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. Be sure to let them know that you are always available and ready to help if they are feeling depressed or anxious.
Allow them to express their feelings. Let them do most of the talking. They will often feel a great sense of relief someone wants to talk to them about their darkest thoughts. Make sure to not be judgmental but still help them understand that these thoughts are dangerous and that they shouldn’t listen to them, even though it may be near impossible. If you are struggling with understanding what they are going through please help them find a psychiatrist or therapist.
Check their Safety
If you are really 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. They will be able to help.
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. Help them understand that people care about them and want to help them and that they should accept this help. In order to increase safety make sure that they have a support network with multiple people from all aspects of their life (e.g, family, friends, workplace)
Ask for a Promise
Thoughts of suicide may return, so ask them to promise to reach out and tell someone. Asking them to promise makes it more likely they will tell someone. This is extremely importan
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 they may refuse help and you can’t force them to get help. You need to ensure the appropriate people are aware of the situation. Don’t shoulder this responsibility yourself.
3 steps to prevent suicide
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.
2) Listen and stay with them
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.
3) 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. Even if the danger is not immediate they may need longer term support for the issues that led to them feeling this way.
- Let them know you are concerned Tell them that you are concerned, and that you are there to hel[ Ask if they are thinking about suicide and if they have made any plans
- Talking about suicide will not make them take action
- Asking shows that you care and allows them to talk about their feelings and plans – the first step to getting help.
Take action to get help now
- Tell them that there are other options than suicide
- Don’t agree to keep their suicidal thoughts or plans a secret
- Don’t assume they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own
Encourage them to get professional help
- Make an appointment with a GP and offer for someone to go along with them
- Contact a counsellor or employee assistance program, family member or friend
- Contact a specialist helpline for information and advice — they’re listed below
If they have made a plan to end their life
- Check if they are able to carry out this plan. Do they have a time, place or method?
- Remove access to objects they could use to hurt themselves
- Contact the psychiatric emergency team at your local hospital
- Call 000. Tell them the person is suicidal, has made a plan, and you fear for their safety
Take care of yourself
It is emotionally demanding to support someone who is suicidal. Find someone to talk things over with, like your family, friends or a helpline.
Factors associated with higher risk of suicide
- Talking about feeling hopeless and helpless
- Being socially isolated
- Having a recent loss — relationship, death, job
- Having made a previous suicide attempt
- Having a friend, family member or work colleague who has died by suicide
- Having a mental illness
- Behaving in a risky manner – drugs, alcohol abuse, driving recklessly