Suicide prevention

Posted: Jul 05 2021

Each year in Australia more than 3,000 people end their lives[1]. This is around 8 people a day - more than the number of people who die on our roads each year. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the suicide rates are twice as high, and for young people, it is the leading cause of death.

Suicide prevention

If you are concerned that someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can help them by doing the following:

  • Stay with them, or arrange for someone else to stay with them until they can see a healthcare professional
  • remove access to harmful items such as dangerous objects, alcohol and drugs
  • call 000, go to a local hospital emergency department, or contact a mental health service

Signs and symptoms

People who are at risk of suicide may:

  • withdraw from friends and family
  • seem moody and depressed
  • be less interested in looking after themselves
  • engage in reckless or risky behaviour
  • be distracted or more introverted
  • seem angry or frustrated
  • suffer from insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • increase or commence use of drugs or alcohol
  • give away treasured belongings, renew wills, discuss care arrangements for dependants or pets.

They may also talk about a feeling of hopelessness or feeling worthless or alone, or they may talk about their death or wanting to die.

What causes suicidal thoughts?

Lifeline Australia’s Head of Clinical Services, Rachel Bowes, says there are many things which can contribute to suicidal thoughts, such as a person's mood, their life circumstances and their overall mental health.

“For many people, suicidal thoughts come as a result of not being able to imagine another way out of what they are going through, or an end to their pain,” Rachel says. “They may feel like they there is no hope, and although it can be challenging to reach out, it’s vital that people experiencing suicidal thinking are connected with others and are able to share their experiences.”

When should I seek support from a professional?

Rachel says suicidal thoughts are frightening, and you may be feeling helpless and alone.

“If you are having these thoughts it is most important that you seek help and take steps to manage your safety,” Rachel says. “Put off any decision to act on these thoughts and give yourself time to get some support and to get past this difficult period. If you are struggling, please remember that you are not alone. Lifeline is here 24 hours a day, our Crisis Supporters are ready to listen. Talking through what’s worrying you can really help.”

Where possible, make an appointment with your GP quickly, and they can help you make a Mental Health Plan to assist with seeing a mental health professional. You can also speak with a counsellor at school, a teacher, or someone at an Employee Assistance Program. Some other ways to help get through tough times include:

  • ask for support
  • create a safety plan
  • understand what self-care looks like for you
  • let others know what you are going through
  • immediate urgent help can be provided by emergency services

“It’s also important for people to realise that they can make a positive difference to the lives of others. If you know someone who may be going through a difficult time, please reach out to them. Ask them if they are going ok and if they are not, work with them to get them the support they need. You can always call Lifeline alongside them to support them to talk with our Crisis Supporters.” Said Rachel.

Resources and information

Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis support line receives a call every 30 seconds. There are more than 4,500 Crisis Supporters working with Lifeline so that no person in Australia has to face their darkest moments alone.
The Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people affected by suicide.
ReachOut has a range of information and resources relating to suicide prevention particularly relating to young people.
Beyond Blue offers support, advice and action to assist in suicide prevention. They also have online forums where you can share your experiences with others.

Reviewed by Sarah Davies, registered psychologist.


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Posted: Jul 05 2021


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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