If you believe someone is thinking about ending their life, it’s natural to feel panic or even want to avoid thinking about it. However, there are a number of practical things you can do to help . . .
Let them know you are concerned
- Tell them that you are concerned, and that you are there to help.
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.
- Asking will help them 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 to 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.
If the person is thinking about suicide, encourage them to:
- 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.
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?
- Do what you can to keep them safe by removing access to items.
- Contact the Psychiatric Emergency Team at the local hospital and the police on 000. Report that the person is suicidal, has made a plan, and you fear for their safety.
Take care of yourself too
Look after yourself – it is emotionally demanding to support someone who is suicidal. Also find someone to talk things over with, such as 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
- making 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.
Where to call for help
- Police: 000
- Local hospital Psychiatric Emergency Team
Information and advice
- SANE Help Centre: 1800 18 SANE (7263) (9am – 5pm, weekdays EST)
How do I find out more?
SANE Australia also produces a range of easy-to-read publications and multimedia resources on mental illness.