A simple framework
- Connect- ask about highs and lows/ what they have been up to
- Discipleship Questions (if appropriate)
- Faith: “How has your relationship with Jesus been… ? Has there been any spiritual disciplines that have been particularly meaningful?
- Community: How are things going with the people you care about? Your parents, siblings, friends etc
- Mission: Ask about their mission , ministry or calling – ‘What is God saying to you , and what do you think you need to do about it? How can I pray and support you in this?
Dealing with specific pastoral care issues
- Listen and ask questions that will help them to understand what the issue really is. “What makes this so difficult for you?
- Explore solutions together
- Consider getting others involved to help. Maybe they need some professional help like a Nurse or Counsellor
- Pray with them
- Make a plan to follow up
Dealing with suicidal thoughts and ideation
Check out the very helpful guide at
Ask about their experience – direct is best! The person should be 100% clear what you’re asking.
- “Have there ever been times when you’ve thought about killing yourself?”
- “Do you mind if I sit and talk with you about it”
- “How recently was the last time you had those thoughts?”
- “Are you thinking about ending your life at the moment?”
Ensure Safety – if there are current thoughts of suicide.
- “This is important, and I think we need some extra help with this – we could try sending a text to Youthline or The Lowdown together?”
- “What can I do to help you keep safe for now?”
- “I’ll stay with you until we can find someone else to help.”
Identify Issues – explore what might have led to thoughts of suicide, and identify strengths.
- “What are some of the things that make you feel that way/like ending your life?”
- “Do things feel worse at home or at school, or somewhere else?
- “Are there things in your life that give you hope?”
- “It sounds like you were actually showing a lot of care toward the other person, even though they didn’t see it that way.”
Observe – look out for changes in activity/personality, and possible anchor points to life.
- “So you mentioned you’ve been drinking a lot more recently / I’ve noticed you not coming around as much anymore / Sounds like you haven’t had much sleep this week / You gave away your card set – I know that meant a lot to you?”
- “Who have been the most important people/places for you so far? What would it take to reconnect with/visit one of them?”
Utilise Supports – connect to support people, both personal and professional, identify coping strategies
- “What are some things that have helped you keep chill/brighten your day in the past?”
- “Is there anyone in your life that you trust to talk about this stuff with?”
- “Let’s figure out what you might say to them when you see them next”
For emergencies, dial 111
The Lowdown – free txt 5626, email@example.com
Youthline – free text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org, 0800 376 633
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Whatsup – 0800 WHATSUP (0800 9428 787)
Healthline – 0800 611 116