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

Having suicidal thoughts

Feeling suicidal? You are not alone … every year many Australians experience suicidal thoughts. But help is available.

What does it mean to be suicidal?

Feeling suicidal? You are not alone … every year approximately 400,000 Australians experience suicidal thoughts1, 62,000 make suicide attempts2, 35,000 are admitted to hospital for suicide-related injuries3 and over 3,000 die from suicide4. But help is available.

Reasons for suicide

The reasons why people think about suicide are varied and personal. Often, it is because of a combination of factors related to their feelings or thoughts, or they may have recently experienced a ‘triggering’ event. People thinking about suicide may feel:

  • like suicide is their only way out
  • alone, isolated and disconnected from the world around them
  • helpless
  • an unbearable amount of pain
  • that no one understands them or that they are a burden
  • that nothing will change to improve their situation.

1 Blackdog Institute (2014) 2 ABS — National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2008) 3 Blackdog Institute (2014) 4 ABS - Cause of Deaths (2018)

Some 'triggering' events

Some ‘triggering’ events that may cause someone to consider suicide include:

  • relationship break downs
  • recent loss (a loved one, job, relationship, pet or public figure)
  • family problems
  • physical illness or injury
  • sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • drug or alcohol problems

  • mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression
  • eating disorders
  • school, uni or work problems
  • unemployment or being unemployed for a long time
  • feeling like they don’t belong anywhere
  • financial or legal problems
  • major disappointments
  • change in circumstances (retirement, separation, children leaving home).

Almost everyone who takes their own life gives some clue or warning. Never ignore talking about suicide. Take people’s suicidal thoughts and feelings very seriously and help them find effective help. If you suspect that someone may have suicidal thoughts, ask them. This will give them permission to talk about it. Asking about suicidal thinking does not precipitate suicidal action.
There are a number of warning signs that a person might be thinking about suicide. Some of these include:

  • discussions surrounding suicide, even if it seems to be a joke
  • being moody, withdrawn or sad (Note: a sudden positive mood can also be a bad sign as it may mean a person has made up their mind to suicide)
  • losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • taking less care of their appearance
  • anxiety or agitation, including difficulty
  • engaging in self-destructive or risky behaviour
  • increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • previous suicide attempts
  • giving possessions away and saying goodbye
  • gaining access to a means of ending their life
  • unusual behaviour, including a happy disposition.

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via chat or text (available 24/7).

  • Reach Out — Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. It needs to be a direct question that can’t be misinterpreted. “Are you thinking about suicide?” Most people with thoughts of suicide want to talk about it. They want to live — but desperately need someone to hear their pain and offer them help to keep safe. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are thinking about suicide. This shows you care and they’re not alone.
  • Listen to them — Allow them to express their feelings. Let them do most of the talking. They will often feel a great sense of relief that someone wants to talk to them about their darkest thoughts.
  • Check their safety — If you are worried don’t leave them alone. Remove any means of suicide including weapons, medications, drugs, alcohol, even access to a car. Get help by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, or emergency services on 000. You can also take them to the local hospital emergency department.
  • Decide what to do and take action — Talk about steps you can take together to keep them safe. Don’t agree to keep it a secret, you shouldn’t be the only one supporting this person. You may need help from someone else to persuade them to get help. You can also help by finding out information on what resources and services are available for a person who is considering suicide. Provide them a list of emergency numbers in case they need it later.

Get help — There are lots of services and people that can help and provide assistance:

  • GP (doctor)
  • Counsellor, psychologist, social worker
  • School Counsellor
  • Emergency Services 000
  • Community Health Centres
  • Crisis support services like Lifeline, Kids helpline
  • Seek support from family and friends, youth group leader, sports coach, priest, minister or religious leader etc.

In some situations a person might refuse help. In these cases, ensure the appropriate people are aware of the situation. Don’t shoulder the situation yourself. If they are unable to stay safe you may have to contact help against their wishes, but talk to them about this first if possible.

Are you having thoughts of suicide? It’s OK. We can talk about it. Thinking about suicide does not make you ‘bad’ or ‘weak’. There are people you can turn to for help.

  • Contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 (available 24/7) or chat to a Crisis Supporter online at lifeline.org.au
  • Use available resources — smartphone apps, online support groups
  • Talk to someone you trust — you don’t have to go through this alone. Tell them how you feel, and that you are thinking of suicide. Ask them to help you keep safe.
  • Get help and support to stay alive — contact a helpline, your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist, a hospital emergency department, minister, teacher or anyone you trust to keep you safe.
  • If your life is in danger — call emergency services 000.