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  • What do you do if someone you support is struggling with suicidal thoughts?

What do you do if someone you support is struggling with suicidal thoughts?

Some people may have suicidal thoughts. It is important to know who you can contact
in an emergency.

Critical, emergency support

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harming yourself or others, do not hesitate to call emergency service right now at 000.
Ask the police for assistance if the person is behaving aggressively towards you or
threatening you with a weapon.
Ask for an ambulance if someone is injured or harmed.

24/7 support services 

You’re never alone. Help is available free of charge 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week, 365 days a year. You’ll be answered by a person who is trained to listen and who will treat your call with the utmost respect and confidentiality.
They may also connect you with other services in your area where you can go
for in-person support if that’s what you would like.
Lifeline Australia – Call 13 11 14
Lifeline also offers an online Crisis Support
 from 7pm to midnight Sydney time, 7 days a week.
MensLine Australia – Call 1300 789 978
A men-only telephone counselling service. You can also access their help via online chat and video counselling.
Beyond Blue – Call 1300 224 636
Whatever your age, Beyond Blue is on hand to provide
support and information to help you achieve your best possible mental health. You can also chat online with a counsellor from 3pm to midnight, 7 days a week or join the community forums. Beyond Blue invites people who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment to contact them by phone using the National Relay Service. The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is available for those for whom English is not their first language.
Suicide Call Back Service – Call 1300 659 467
Call or use their online chat or video chat services any time.
Kids Helpline – Call 1800 551 800
Kids Helpline offers free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online
counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. They also offer an online webchat service and online peer support groups and can be contacted via email for support.
Open Arms  – Call 1800 011 046
Mental health and wellbeing support for current and ex-serving Australian Defence
Force personnel and their families

Other Services 

The following services provide free mental health and wellbeing support.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

For culturally diverse people

For young people

For LGBTQIA+ people

For eating disorders

If you don’t feel like you can call any of the above services, you can also:

  • Talk to someone you trust
  • contact your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist
  • visit a hospital emergency department

It can be incredibly difficult to watch someone you support go through a hard time. Sometimes it can be hard to know if someone is just going through a rough patch or whether there might be something more serious going on. When you start to suspect that someone is thinking about taking their own life, you may also feel confused and scared about what to do next.

Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15-44.

Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs. Though these may vary between people, here are some of the more common warning signs when it comes to suicide:

  • Social isolation or feeling alone
  • Aggression or irritability
  • Possessing lethal means
  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Dramatic changes in mood and behaviour
  • Frequently talking about death
  • A history of suicidal behaviour
  • Engaging in ‘risky’ behaviours
  • Feeling like you don’t belong
  • Giving things away
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling worthless
  • A sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future

If you notice warning signs in someone you support, it’s important to start the conversation. Talking to someone about whether they’re having suicidal thoughts can be hard. However, know that you’re not putting the idea of suicide into their head. Rather, you are reminding them that they are not alone and that there are supports out there to help them.

So how do you start the conversation? The best way is to be honest with them about what you’ve noticed and how you feel: “You haven’t seemed yourself lately and I’m worried about you.”

Follow this up with assuring them that you are there for them: “I want to help you and I’m here for you if you want to talk.”

By learning about suicide and the language to use, you’ll feel more equipped to have these hard conversations. The Conversations Matter website is a useful resource on what to say/not to say when it comes to suicide. However whilst it’s great to utilise these resources, it’s also important to recognise that you don’t have to be an expert. You don’t need to have the answers or offer solutions to anyone’s problems. It’s more important to ensure you’re being a mindful listener.

Encourage the person to create a suicide safety plan. This is a structured plan of
strategies and supports that they can work through when they’re feeling suicidal. They can do this alone ,with a professional or with a support person. It’s important that their safety plan is easily accessible – it can be done by using the BeyondNow app, the form on the Beyond Blue website or on a piece of paper.

To assist you to understand the right language, here are some links to “Conversations Matter”.
You can listen to presentation, or read the fact sheet.

Link to factsheet: