Do you know someone struggling with negative thoughts or depression? Are you worried they might be at risk for suicide? Be proactive. Start a conversation.

Unfortunately, most of us are afraid to broach the subject. We stress about not knowing what to say. Or what not to say.

Not to fret! This fear is unfounded because what really matters is connecting. Creating connection is the most powerful tool in preventing suicide. Let them know you care and are ready to listen.

So, invite them to take a walk with you.

Wait! What? Walk, not talk?

Yes, because conversations always flow better when you’re walking with someone.

Why does walking foster talking?

  • Walking and talking can reduce the intensity of a difficult conversation.
  • Walking together reduces loneliness and isolation. 
  • Movement moves emotions. Studies show that moving your body changes your brain. Endorphins, feel good hormones, get released.
  • When walking with someone you naturally begin matching each other’s stride. You synchronize and “get in step” with each other. You feel more connected.
  • Walking with someone encourages a deeper level of conversation. Sitting and talking can feel too intense. The other person can feel put on the spot, stifling their willingness to open up.
  • Walking side by side creates a supportive feeling of “facing the world together” – you’re not alone in this.

What are the best tips when inviting someone on a walk-&-talk?

  • Initiate the first step. Ask the other person to join you for a walk.
  • Pick a location conducive to listening and walking side by side.
  • Choose a nature walk instead of a busy street. Trees, fresh air, and singing birds restore the soul.
  • Keep the pace slow enough to allow for easy conversation.
  • Be okay with companionable silence. Just being together and connecting goes a long way to overcoming dark thoughts.
  • Start the conversation by making non-judgmental statements and asking open-ended questions. [Ex. – “You seem down or sad lately. Am I reading you right? I’m listening and wonder what’s going on.”]
  • Listen. Repeat or paraphrase what they say. This technique helps others feel listened to and heard. Don’t try to “cheer them up” or put a positive spin on their situation.
  • This is not the time to “fix” someone, supply answers, lecture, or add drama.

Talking (and walking) is the first step to preventing suicide. But if your person doesn’t want to go on a walk, don’t try to force them. Do other things together. Share a pot of tea, see a movie together, work side by side on a hobby, or some other activity they enjoyed before.

People contemplating suicide often have a persistent critical inner voice. The inner voice keeps telling them they are less than they should be. Or that they don’t matter.

Connecting and listening lets them know they do matter and that you care. Have the courage to start a conversation.

For more help and practical tips go to, Talk Away the Dark website.


Walk With Me
October 7, 2023
for the

Fall Out of the Darkness Community Walks

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention/Oregon 

Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,

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