If you are thinking of suicide, or are worried about someone else’s safety, contact emergency services on 000, go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital or make an urgent appointment with your GP.
Supporting someone who is suicidal to access support services is important, and there are services available to help.
In Western Australia, deaths by suicide each year are around double the road toll. This tragic loss of life affects families, friends, colleagues and peers. For every death by suicide, there are around six people likely to experience intense grief, which may continue for many years.
Life often presents us with overwhelming situations that can be difficult to deal with. People who feel suicidal often do not want to die, but can see no other way to stop the psychological or emotional pain they are experiencing. It is important to remember that many people experiencing thoughts of suicide can and do recover.
Are you thinking of suicide?
Thoughts and feelings of suicide can be overwhelming and frightening. It can be difficult to know what to do, but there are people available to support you 24 hours a day:
Click here for other support telephone lines and online services.
What can you do to support someone who may be thinking of suicide?
Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to assist someone in a time of crisis can save lives.
Common warning signs:
- Verbal expressions, such as “you won’t have to bother with me anymore”, “I wish I wasn’t here”, and talk of being worthless, useless or hopeless.
- Withdrawal from friends and family and wanting to be left alone.
- Sudden shifts and changes in behaviour: more sad or withdrawn, increased tiredness or outbursts of anger or violence.
- Loss of interest in social activities that once brought them enjoyment.
- Marked personal changes, including a decline in school or work performance and a lack of self-pride.
- Engaging in risky behaviours, including increased use of alcohol and other drugs, or being careless and reckless.
- Self-harming behaviours, such as cigarette burns or cutting oneself.
- Possessing lethal means, such as medications or weapons.
- Making final arrangements, including a will (not necessarily a formal document), giving away prized possessions, and saying goodbye.
If someone has said that they are feeling suicidal and it is not a crisis situation, encourage and help them to access support services as soon as possible. A GP is a good starting point to conduct an assessment of risk and refer the person to the most appropriate mental health professional to help them in the long term.
Three steps to prevent suicide:
1. Ask. If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly "Are you thinking about suicide?" Don’t be afraid to do this; it shows you care and will actually decrease their risk because it shows someone is willing to talk about it. Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.
2. Listen and stay with them. If they answer 'yes', they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else reliable to stay with them.
3. Get them appropriate help. Call a crisis line, Lifeline 13 11 14, or 000 if a life is in danger. If you can get in straight away, visit a GP or psychologist. Even if the danger is not immediate, they may need longer term support for the issues that led to them feeling this way.
For more information on helpful tips about how to talk to someone about suicide, visit the Conversations Matter website.
The Mental Health Commission has produced a resource on grief and loss titled “When someone takes their own life…what next?”, which contains information on grief, the coroner’s office, finance, how to talk to children and funeral arrangements. It also has sections on social media, getting help and how to support a friend or colleague through the loss of a loved one to suicide. It is also available in hard copy from the Mental Health Commission by request.
Suicide Prevention Training
Training programs are also available to improve mental health literacy and develop skills to better recognise and support vulnerable people who may be at-risk of suicide. Click here for more information.