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If you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts and is in immediate danger, please call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Stay with the person until help arrives.
For help and support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
If you believe someone is thinking about ending their life, it’s natural to feel unsure, upset or even want to avoid thinking about it. However, there are a number of practical things you can do to help, that could even save a life.
Let them know you are concerned
If possible, choose a good time and place to have a conversation, where you are both feeling calm and have plenty of time.
Tell them what you have noticed that makes you worried. This shows that you care, and that you are there to help.
You can also ask how they are going, but be prepared to follow up a “good” or “ok” with “How are you really? I want to know because I care”. Or, you can mention explicitly why you are concerned – like any warning signs you’ve noticed.
Ask if they are thinking about suicide
Ask the question directly; “Are you having thoughts about suicide?” This might feel uncomfortable, but a direct question encourages an honest answer.
Remember, talking about suicide will not make a person take their own life or put ideas in the head. It provides the opportunity for someone to say how they’re really going.
Listening without judgment can help reduce the shame they may feel about their suicidal thoughts.
Try to understand what led them to feel this way. Saying things like “That sounds really tough” can show that you are listening and trying to understand what they are going through.
Don’t jump straight into problem solving or convince them they shouldn’t have suicidal thoughts. This can feel dismissive.
Encourage them to get professional help
Tell them you understand they are in pain, but that there are options other than suicide.
Encourage them to make an appointment with a GP or a trusted mental health professional. They can take someone along for support if it helps.
You can also contact a mental health professional or employee assistance program, family member or friend on their behalf. Or, support them to make an appointment.
Professional helplines are also available to help:
If you are worried about their safety right now
Many people experience suicidal thoughts in passing. Most people who experience suicidal thoughts do not die by suicide. But if someone is in immediate danger, call 000.
Sometimes, your gut feeling tells you something is very wrong. But if you are unsure, signs someone might be unsafe include:
If possible, stay with them until emergency services arrive.
Helping someone keep safe
If they are not in immediate danger, but experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are things you can do to help them.
Many of these actions are best discussed with a mental health professional, but you can start these conversations, or check in.
Take care of yourself
It can be emotionally challenging to support someone who is suicidal, so it’s important you try to keep yourself healthy.
You are not alone. SANE has developed a tool for family and friends of people who have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide. Developed in partnership with friends and family who have been there too.