Creating hope with action

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Photo by Amirmohammad Taheri from Pexels

This article was contributed by the Department of Health.


“Creating Hope with Action” is the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2021-2023. 

Let’s learn more about suicide prevention and find hope for people in need. 

Studies have found that:

  • talking about suicide DOES NOT increase others’ motivation to commit suicide
  • properly asking about suicidal thoughts and related behaviors may RELIEVE the person’s mental distress

Most suicidal persons:

  • have experienced major life stress events or lost some very important people and things (for example, loss of close relatives, lovers or health, etc.)
  • suffer from severe mental distress and emotional pain 

Some common warning signs of suicide:

  • Depressed, guilt, anxious, etc.
  • Unexpected or drastic changes, such as usually cheerful ones become sad


  • Loss of interest in favorites, usually silent 
  • Withdrawal from relatives and friends, isolate oneself
  • Giving beloved items to others or entrust others to fulfill their hopes
  • Searching for information and ways of suicide
  • Significant changes in appetite and weight
  • Tiredness, lags in response
  • Poor sleep quality, e.g. insomnia or over sleep  


  • Negative thoughts, e.g. feeling useless, helpless, hopeless
  • Express suicidal thoughts in words or on social media


Some people want to persuade others not to commit suicide.  But their use of words may make people feel rejected and more uncomfortable. For example:

X “Someone is much worse than you are”

X “You are avoiding the problem”

X “You need to take care of others, instead of just focusing on yourself.”

Try to say:

√ “I understand you are really sad”

√ “It must be very hard for you to bear the problem so long”

√ “Let’s talk slowly and find some way out”

How to help?

  • Take initiative to open up the topic, enable them to express the suppressed distress.
  • Empathically, listen to their difficulties and feelings in their position, give kind support and relieve their distress.
  • After alleviating their distress, find solutions with them together.
  • For some more difficult problems, encourage or accompany them to seek professional.
  • For emergency, immediately seek professional assistance, such as calling 999 or go to the Accident and Emergency services of the hospital.

Emergency hotline:

Organization Telephone
Hospital Authority Mental Health Direct Line 2466 7350

Social Welfare Department Departmental Hotline Service
2343 2255
Suicide Prevention Hotline Services 2382 0000
The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong 

(24-hour emotional support service )

2389 2222
The Samaritan 24 Hour Multi-Lingual Suicide Prevention Service  2896 0000