If life is in danger
call 000

I'm worried about someone

If you are concerned that someone is at-risk of suicide and you aren't sure how to talk to them, you can call Lifeline for advice on 13 11 14. Or, you can call us while you're with them and we can help you have the conversation.

When should I check-in?

If someone you know is struggling to cope or having a difficult time, you might feel unsure of what to say or how to help. While checking in and asking if they are okay might seem like a difficult conversation to have, it could be a life-saving one.

Everyone experiences emotional distress in different ways. Not everyone who is having a difficult time will show outward signs, however, signs to look out for if you are worried about someone might include:

  • Restlessness and increased agitation
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Withdrawing from people they would usually connect with
  • Withdrawing from regular activities such as work or school
  • Describing feeling helpless, hopeless or worthless
  • Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Not replying messages, calls or emails, or being distant
  • Talking about not being around any more

   

Common triggers

Sometimes events and experiences impact people in different ways too. What one person may find upsetting or difficult another may not. Some common life events or issues that people may find challenging to cope with include:

  • Painful or disabling physical illness
  • Ongoing mental health difficulties
  • Relationship and family problems
  • Heavy use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Job or study related stress
  • Traumatic event including natural disasters
  • Loss or death of friends or family
  • Financial worries
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Life changes such as divorce or moving

There are also signs that may be an indicator that you should ask a person if they are considering suicide.  While these signs are not always present, and can sometimes be unrelated, you will do no harm by asking “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” if you do observe them, but you could save a life if you do ask:

  • Giving away or selling property
  • Unusually happy (or a significant change in behaviour)
  • Suffering from a co-morbidity that may be overwhelming for them
  • Struggling with trauma, including childhood trauma and abuse
  • Expression of intense feelings of hopelessness or burden

If you notice someone struggling

Every one of us has the inherent ability to be a support to another person. If you see signs that someone you know is struggling, you can be a great support to them by asking if they are OK and being willing to listen and get them to help if needed. Don't ever underestimate the power you have to connect with another person and help them find hope and stay safe.

  • Reach out, ask if they are OK, and make time to Listen to them, acknowledge their struggle, encourage them to keep talking.
  • Encourage them to seek help wherever they feel most comfortable. This might be their GP, family or friend, religious or community leader, or anyone they feel they can trust. If they're searching for local support but don't know where to start, see our Service Finder.
  • Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. It needs to be a direct question that can’t be misinterpreted such as: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”
  • If they're thinking about taking their own life, encourage them to call Lifeline on 13 11 14 - or you can reach out on their behalf, we can help you keep them safe.

If you are worried about the immediate safety of the person contact emergency services on 000.

Three steps to prevent suicide

Ask

If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly "Are you thinking about suicide?" Don’t be afraid to do this, it shows you care and will actually decrease their risk because it shows someone is willing to talk about it. Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.

Listen and stay

If they say 'yes', they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else reliable to stay with them.

Get help

Get them appropriate help. Call a crisis line like Lifeline 13 11 14 or 000 if life is in danger. If you can get in straight away, visit a GP or psychologist. Offer to make the appointment and accompany them if it is their wish. Even if the danger is not immediate they may need longer-term support for the issues that led to them feeling this way.

   #YouCanTalk

Lifeline is proud to be part of the #YouCanTalk movement, a collaboration of suicide prevention and mental health service providers committed to empowering all Australians to have a conversation with a friend, family member, or work colleague they are concerned about.  For a range of resources, visit: 

     

You Can Talk Logo

  

  

Self-care for you as a supporter

It is important that you as a carer, are aware of your own emotional wellbeing in order to assist others.  If you feel you are unable to help the person who needs support, it is important that you get them to someone reliable that they trust that can assist them, a GP, a Psychologist, or call Lifeline.

If you need support yourself, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Carers Australia 1800 242 636 which offers short-term counselling, emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.