If life in danger call Triple Zero 000
If life in danger call Triple Zero 000

Helping someone at risk of suicide

If you are concerned that someone you know is considering suicide, support is available for both you and your loved one. Suicide is preventable and starting a conversation with someone you’re worried about can save a life.

Why does someone consider suicide?

Thoughts of suicide can occur for many people for a range of reasons. People considering suicide may be feeling isolated and alone. They may feel that nobody can help or understand them and that suicide is the only way out of the difficulties they are experiencing.

Someone I care about may be considering suicide- what do I do?

  • Acknowledge your own reaction
    Talking about suicide can feel overwhelming, especially if you are worried about a loved one. Before  reaching out to check in on others, it’s first important to check in with yourself to ensure you are feeling able to have this important conversation. Whatever your reaction or feelings, it’s important to be aware of these before reaching out to support others. Getting some support for yourself, thinking about what you will say and having a plan may assist you. Speak with a trusted friend or professional, or contact services such as Lifeline for additional support. You don’t have to bear this responsibility alone.

  • Ask directly
    Unless someone tells you, the only way to know if a person is thinking of suicide is to directly ask. Asking the question shows that you have noticed things, been listening, that you care and that they’re not alone. Talking about suicide will not put the idea into their head but will encourage them to talk about their feelings. Most people thinking about suicide don’t necessarily want to die but just need someone to help them. With the right support, recovery is possible and they can go on to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

  • Be there and listen
    Listening to the person is essential to showing them that you care and that you want to understand what they are going through. Let them do most of them talking without offering any judgements or advice. Stay with them and work with them to ensure they aren’t alone – that might mean physically staying with them or finding someone else they trust to be there with them.

  • Check out their safety
    You may need to ask the person some more questions to understand their safety and if there is any immediate danger. Asking the person:
    • Do they have a specific plan on how they will end their life?
    • Are they able to carry out this plan (for example do they have access to a weapon, car, drugs, medicines)? If possible, try removing these objects as this can also help keep the person safe.

  • Get help
    If someone’s life is in danger, call 000.

Other services that can offer support include:

    • Lifeline 24/7 support by phoning 13 11 14, texting 0477 13 11 14 or online chat 
    • 13YARN (13 92 76) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporters to yarn to 24/7 from any mobile or pay phone.
    • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
    • Men's Line Australia 1300 78 99 78
    • The Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
    • Speaking with someone that they trust
    • Accessing help from a healthcare professional such as a GP, a counsellor or other mental health professional

      Encourage the person to get help and to reach out for support. They don’t have to go through this alone. Supporting others having a difficult time can also impact you. Remember, you don’t have to take on all of this responsibility by yourself. It’s important for you to have a strong support network around you too.

  • Follow up
    After you’ve had this important first conversation, it’s important to check in with the person soon afterwards to show them that you care, but also that you’re serious about supporting them. Showing them that you’re there for them can make all the difference. Ask them some questions about what support they have involved and offer to help them however they might need, for example to attend any appointments. Reminding them that while you don’t know how they’re feeling exactly, you want to help them get through this difficult time. Offering them hope that this difficult time will pass and there is help available to them. They’re not in this alone.

For additional resources about discussing suicide visit Conversation Matters 



Fact sheet - Help someone at risk of suicide

Situations - what’s happening in the person’s life?

Have they experienced any life changes recently?

  • Recent loss (a loved one, a job, an income/ livelihood, a relationship, a pet)
  • Major disappointment (failed exams, missed job promotions)
  • Change in circumstances (eg separation/divorce, retirement)
  • Mental disorder or physical illness/injury
  • Suicide of a family member, friend or a public figure
  • Financial and/or legal problems

Feelings – how does the person feel about their life?

Be aware of:

  • How the person feels about what’s happened
  • What it means to them
  • Whether the pain feels bearable

Behaviours – what are they doing?

People at risk of suicide usually give clues by the way they behave. These may include:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Being moody, sad and withdrawn
  • Talking of feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
  • Taking less care of themselves and their appearance
  • Losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or sleeping
  • Being more irritable or agitated
  • Talking or joking about suicide/death
  • Expressing thoughts about death through drawings, stories, songs etc.
  • Saying goodbye to others and/or giving away possessions
  • Engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviour
  • Increasing alcohol/drug use

For Crisis support contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 (available 24/7) or via chat or text (available 24/7) to speak with a Crisis Supporter

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.