Thinking of suicide - Finding help if you're feeling suicidal

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Thinking about suicide does not mean you are a bad person, or weak, or flawed. It doesn’t even mean that you really want to die – it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now.

Remember, no problem lasts forever. Don't solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution. You are feeling this way for a reason, and there is help available, now and in the long term. 

Steps to take if you are feeling suicidal

1. If you feel immediately suicidal and feel you can’t hold on:

  • Tell someone how you feel (for example, partner or other family member, friend, school counsellor).
  • Ask them to stay with you until you get help. Being with someone, even over the phone increases your safety.
  • Contact a medical professional and tell them it is an emergency: 
    • Call your local hospital and ask to speak to the Mental Health Team.
    • Go to your GP or hospital emergency department. Wait there until you see a doctor.
    • Call 000. The police or ambulance may be able to take you to hospital.
    • Call your doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor or case worker.
    • Call an appropriate crisis Helpline – see the front of White Pages.

    2. With help you should start to feel better and be able to keep yourself safe. Until then, there are things you can do to relieve some of the pain and reduce the desire to end your life:

    • Try to distance your thoughts and actions. Say to yourself, ‘I will wait 24 hours before I do anything’, so that you can seek help during that period.
    • Put any items you could use to hurt yourself out of reach, or ask a trusted friend to look after them.
    • Do something that has brought you even a small amount of pleasure before, such as taking a walk, listening to music, taking a hot bath, watching a funny movie, reading or some slow deep breathing.
    • Get together with others, even if you don't feel like it, to prevent isolation.
    • Reduce drug or alcohol use. These can make it more likely that you may harm yourself, by making you more impulsive and increasing feelings of depression.
    • Write about your thoughts and feelings. Remember especially to write about the things in your life that you value and appreciate, no matter how small they may seem to you.

    3. Most suicidal thoughts are associated with underlying causes such as mental illness (for example, depression), a trauma or other issues. These can be helped by psychological treatments, medication and support, or a combination of these. Remember people do get through this – even people who feel as badly as you feel now. So get help now – you can survive. Call the SANE Freecall Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263), Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm for information on mental illness, advice and referral to support agencies in your community.

    Where to call for help

    • Immediate assistance
      Police: 000
      Local hospital Psychiatric Emergency Team
    • Telephone counselling
      Lifeline: 13 11 14
      Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467
      Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
    • Information and referral
      1800 18 SANE (7263),
      9-5 weekdays EST. Request free InfoPack 24 hours.

    How do I find out more?

    SANE Australia produces a range of easy-to-read publications and multimedia resources on mental illness. For more information see other SANE Factsheets and:

    • SANE Guide to Staying Alive - Provides practical step-by step hints and advice for dealing with suicidal thoughts and behaviourwhen there is mental illness.
    • SANE Guide to Depression - Helps people diagnosed with depression and their family and friends by explaining what itmeans to have depression, the treatments available and whata person can do to help themselves.
    • SANE Guide to Healthy Living - A comprehensive guide to healthy living for people with a mental illness. The Guide provides information and tips on a healthier lifestyle and where to find support.

    To order visit the SANE Bookshop at or call 1800 18 SANE (7263).

    SANE Australia . . . Thinking about suicide - Getting help if you're feeling suicidal

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    This Factsheet may be freely downloaded, copied and distributed on condition no change is made to the content. SANE Australia is not responsible for any actions taken as a result of information or opinions contained in the Factsheet. (Version English, 2014)