Suicide prevention

Feelings of despair and hopelessness are common in a young person with anxiety and depression. If you do feel isolated and alone and have thoughts of suicide, then you need to let someone know that you need help.

If you, or someone you care about, is in crisis and you think immediate action is needed, call emergency services (triple zero – 000), contact your doctor or mental health crisis service, or go to your local hospital emergency department. Do not leave the person alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety.

 

To speak to someone immediately contact the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636.


Why do people think about suicide?

There are a broad range of reasons that might contribute to a young person considering suicide. These can be related to their mood, what has happened in the past, what is happening currently in their lives, how they are coping and how supported and connected they feel. Young people who think about taking their life often believe that nobody cares about them, that they don’t belong and that things are hopeless. They are often exhausted by their distress and unable to think clearly through any other options. They might be so unhappy that they are unable to sleep, eat, or enjoy any part of their life.

Feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide can be much worse following very stressful experiences. These might include a relationship breakup or traumatic life event, feeling totally alone and without any friends or family, grief after the death of someone close, losing a job or failing a big exam. People with conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse are more likely to think about suicide.

Warning signs

Sometimes people say or do things that can help you begin to understand how they are feeling. It might be the words they use (“No one cares about me anymore"), a change in how they act around you (no longer wanting to hang out), or perhaps a dramatic change in their mood (sad, desperate and hopeless). It is not uncommon for young people to display one or more of these behaviours at times of stress. If you see these signs then it is important to ask about what is going on, how they feel and whether they are thinking about suicide.

You can read more about how to spot warning signs in the fact sheet below.

If you are suicidal

Having suicidal thoughts can be scary. You may have never had them before, or perhaps the thoughts have been there for a while and you are not sure what to do. In the short term, you need to find ways to stay safe. Once you're safe, you can work out how to get the help you need. 

Stay safe

  • Remember that thoughts of suicide are just thoughts; you do not have to act on them. These thoughts might only last a few minutes; you might feel differently in a few hours.
  • Postpone any decisions to end your life. Give yourself time to get the support you need.
  • Remove anything in the house that you might use to impulsively harm yourself – maybe give it to a friend.
  • Keep crisis line phone numbers or weblinks in your mobile phone for easy use.
  • Avoid being alone. Have someone near you until your thoughts of suicide decrease.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can intensify how you feel and make decision making harder.
  • Think about who you can contact (beyondblue Support Service, Kids Helpline, eheadspace, Lifeline, Suicide Callback Service).

Let someone know

  • Share how you feel with someone you trust and feel comfortable with –  a family member, teacher, doctor or other health professional.
  • Try and think about it as any other conversation. You can describe what has happened, how you feel and what help you need. It's best to be direct so that they understand how you feel.  
  • Be prepared for their reaction. Often people who learn that someone is suicidal can be quite confused and emotional at first. Just keep talking and together you can find a way through it.
  • Ask your friends/family member to help you find support; in person, online, over the phone.

Make a safety plan

Make a list of things that you can do when you notice your suicidal thoughts returning. Include things that calm you down, things you enjoy such as talking with friends, and things that help you to refocus your thoughts. 

Seek support from others

Having supportive people around you is always important. Surround yourself with people that you trust, who will listen to you without judgment and that you enjoy being with.

Seek support from health professionals

Sometimes you need more than the assistance of your support network. By seeing a health professional you can begin to address feelings or situations without being judged and instead be supported to find new ways to cope with difficult decisions, experiences or emotions.

Talk to your GP or find a mental health professional

Find what works for you

If you have had suicidal thoughts, it's important to share how you're feeling with someone you trust. It's also important to get support from a health professional in person, online or over the phone. A health professional can help you work out how you are feeling and offer ideas about ways to approach the problem. These steps might also help you feel stronger and better equipped if the suicidal thoughts come back.   

  • Set yourself some tasks to do on a day-to-day basis, or even hour by hour if you need to. Reward yourself as you achieve small goals.
  • Learn about different coping strategies, including mindfulness. www.smilingmind.com.au helps you to practice mindfulness; a useful tool to manage suicidal thoughts.
  • Do some physical exercise every day, preferably outside, no matter how hard it is to get going. Not only will this help to give a natural boost, it should help you to sleep better at night. Get a friend to come along too.
  • Notice the times that you feel a bit better. These times might be short at first, 5 to 10 minutes, but as you learn to cope in different ways these times should become more frequent and last longer.
  • Do things regularly that you enjoy. Catch up with friends, neighbours and family members, or perhaps join a group doing something that interests you.
  • Try to challenge how you think about things. By thinking in more realistic, positive and reassuring ways you can influence how you feel. It’s about changing your unhelpful thoughts to thoughts that can help you to move forward and feel more in control. It’s often useful to ask yourself “Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?

Supporting a friend

If a friend tells you about their thoughts of suicide you might react in a range of ways – upset, confused, shocked, angry, fearful or surprised. It can be hard to understand why someone wants to take their own life but whatever your reaction, it is important to talk with them about it

It can be a challenging, unfamiliar and uncomfortable conversation to start but it might be life-saving. Conversations Matter is a website that offers some practical suggestions on having a conversation about suicide.

Look

  • If you notice any of the warning signs and are worried about a friend talk about it with them.

Listen

  • Make time to listen. Sometimes listening is what the person really needs as it helps to let it out.
  • Let them know you are there if they need to talk.

Talk

  • Ask them directly about suicide. “You’ve been really down lately and you haven’t been going out for weeks, I’m wondering how you are feeling? I’m wondering if they might be so bad that you are thinking about killing yourself and if you have made any plans?"
  • Talking about suicide gives young people a chance to share how they feel and explore what they might need to feel better.
  • If you think you said the wrong thing, try again. Let them know you care, that you found it hard to hear, but that you want to help them. You don’t need to have all the answers but you can help them to stay safe while they get other support.

Seek help

Speak up

  • If your friend is joking or talking about suicide, giving possessions away, or saying goodbye then you need to take it seriously. You might tell their parents, partner or trusted adult, or contact emergency services for help.
  • Even if you promised not to tell, what’s most important is that your friend needs your help to stay safe. You can talk with them another time about why others had to get involved. Suicide is not an easy situation to cope with. It’s not your sole responsibility to take care of your friend. It’s ok to ask for the support of others.

Take care of yourself

  • Supporting someone who is suicidal can be confronting and emotionally exhausting.
  • Try to find the balance between supporting them and looking after yourself.
  • Be clear about your boundaries – e.g. telling them they can call you ‘any time’ might mean that you miss out on much needed sleep, night after night. Know what your limits and boundaries are. If you run yourself into the ground you won’t have anything to offer your friend.
  • Look after your physical health: eat well, exercise daily and get regular sleep.
  • Look after your emotional health too; talk with someone about what is happening. You can respect your friend’s privacy but still have a conversation with someone about how it is affecting you and what you should do to help your friend.
  • Online and phone support services can also help you in these situations.
If we can spread happiness, you might just save a friend from the darkness of depression.
Stefanie , 25