These tips are super simple, but they could save the life of someone you love. No one ever really sees suicide coming, so it's better to be overly cautious and ask the questions, than be left wondering, "What if?"
- Remember: most people don't actually want to die, they just want the pain to stop. When a close friend told me this a few years ago about his own experience, it completely shifted my perspective and helped me somewhat in my understanding of how and why suicide happens.
If you've noticed a worrying change in someone's behaviour, tell them. Ask them if they'd like to talk or to just have some company.
- If they do open up to you, listen without judgement and offer to go with them to seek help.
Don't beat around the bush: if you suspect a loved one is thinking about suicide, ask them directly: "Are you thinking about suicide?" According to Lifeline, you shouldn't be scared of being so blunt. "It shows you care and will actually decrease their risk, because it shows someone is willing to talk about it."
Generally speaking, suicidal people feel very alone. Let them know they are not alone and stay with them until they get help they need.
- Oftentimes, people who are suicidal give signs or clues to how they are feeling. Here's a list that Lifeline recommends you look out for:
- Recent loss, like of a loved one, job, relationship or pet
- Physical illness or injury
- Suicide of someone they know or recognise
- Financial or legal problems
- They have depression
- They seem irritable, moody or angry
- They have mentioned feeling worthless and have no sense of purpose or reason for living
- Previous suicide attempts
- Talking or writing about suicide or death, even if it seems to be a joke
- Losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
- Taking less care of their appearance
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawal from other people
You can see the full list here.
If you're worried about a friend or loved one, give Lifeline or BeyondBlue a call and ask exactly what steps you need to take to support them.
Never ignore a suicide threat, even if said in jest.
If a life is in danger, call 000 immediately.
If you aren't feeling great and you need to talk to someone, remember: you are not alone. There are people just on the other side of the phone waiting to speak to you — just call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.