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Suicide and crisis care: warning signs and support

If you or someone you know needs help now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If someone is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about someone you know, there is help available.

Warning signs

Suicidal behaviour is complex, and while not all suicide deaths can be prevented, early intervention can prevent many suicide deaths.

When at risk of suicide, someone may display various behaviours and experience various emotions.

Warning signs of suicidal thoughts or plans to commit suicide include:

  • looking for ways to hurt or kill oneself
  • talking and writing about suicide or death
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • expressing rage, anger or revenge
  • engaging in reckless or risky behaviours
  • previous suicide attempts or self-harming
  • increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • withdrawing from friends and families
  • quitting activities that were previously important
  • putting affairs in order, e.g. giving away possessions, especially those that have special significance for the person
  • anxiety or agitation
  • abnormal sleep patterns
  • dramatic changes in mood, such as sudden feelings of happiness after a long period of sadness, or depression
  • writing a suicide note or goodbye letters to people.

Why does someone consider suicide?

Suicide can seem like the only way out of a situation or the negative feelings that someone is experiencing. There are many reasons why someone considers suicide, such as:

  • an argument with a loved one or significant person
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • the suicide of a family member, friend or public role model
  • the onset or recurrence of a mental or physical illness
  • unexpected changes in life circumstances
  • unemployment
  • financial or legal problems
  • a traumatic life event (for example abuse, bullying or violence).

Suicide prevention

Suicide can’t be prevented with certainty, but you can reduce the risk if you:

  • know the risk factors
  • are alert to the signs of depression and other mental disorders
  • recognise the warning signs for suicide
  • intervene before the person can act on suicidal thoughts.

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?

People who receive support from friends and family, and have access to mental health services, are less likely to act on their suicidal impulses than those who are socially isolated. If someone you know is exhibiting warning signs:

  • ask if they are depressed or thinking about suicide
  • check if they are seeing a therapist or taking medication
  • assure them they are not alone and there is hope of things getting better
  • tell them that you care and encourage them to seek professional help.

If you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of committing suicide:

  • do not leave them alone—if possible, ask for help from friends or family members
  • ask them to give you any weapons they have, and remove sharp objects or anything else they could use to hurt themselves
  • try to keep them as calm as possible
  • call Triple Zero (000) or take them to an emergency room.

Support for survivors

Compassionate Friends Queensland is part of a world-wide network that offers friendship and grief education to families following the death of a child, at any age and from any cause.

The Survivors of suicide website provides useful resources for anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide and anyone who is supporting them through the grieving process. 

The Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support Association (SOSBSA) have online resources, events and seminars to help cope with and manage loss. SOSBSA support group meetings in Brisbane provide a safe environment to share experiences of suicide-related grief and loss with others who understand.

Learn about ways to manage grief and understand the effects it can have on your life.

Kids Helpline also provides helpful information about managing grief and loss. They can help by suggesting steps you can take to help you through the grieving process.

 Help and support

Lifeline Australia provides a 24-hour phone crisis support service to anyone at anytime. Lifeline also provides information and training for family and friends of people at risk of suicide.
Phone 13 11 14
 
Kids Helpline is a free 24-hour counselling service for Australian kids and young people aged 5–25 years. Talk to a counsellor by phone, email or web chat about any issues.
Phone 1800 551 800

Reach Out is a web-based service that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 14–25, with resources including videos, a forum, a blog and fact sheets for young people aged 14–25 years.

Salvocare Line is a 24-hour phone counselling service to people during times of crisis, loneliness, or depression. 
Phone 1300 363 622

Suicide Call Back Service is a 24-hour, 7 days a week phone crisis counselling service for people at risk of suicide, carers of someone who is suicidal and those bereaved by suicide. You can also access up to 6 sessions of counselling with the same counsellor at times scheduled to suit you, if you don’t already have professional support.
Phone 1300 659 467

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service provides counselling and group programs for all Australian veterans, peacekeepers and their families, including after-hours phone counselling.
Phone 1800 011 046

Find out more about mental health support and counselling services.

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
18 November 2013

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