DISCUSSION & TIPS
Suicide is an unfortunately common and large issue across the globe. The below statistics from The Australian Bureau of Statistics and Lifeline will outline how much suicide impacts Australia’s population alone in recent years:
- Nine Australians die every day as a result of suicide
- More than twice as many people die by suicide than road toll deaths
- Over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt each year
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44
- The suicide rate is twice as high in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- People in rural populations are 2 times more likely to die by suicide
- LGBTIQ+ community members experience significantly higher rates of suicide
- For each life lost to suicide, the impacts are felt by up to 135 people including family members, work colleagues, friends and first responders at the time of death.
What might you notice in someone who is suicidal?
- Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
- Themes of death or dying in their conversation
- Organizing finances and wills, saying goodbyes, giving things away
- Hopelessness or talking like there is no future for themselves
- Acting recklessly and endangering their life
- Withdrawing from friends, family, work, and hobbies
- Reduced self-care
- Sense of purposelessness
- Feeling trapped
- Sudden brightness in mood after a period of depression
- Previous attempts
- Accessing means such as stockpiling pills
What can I do if I am worried that someone I care about may be thinking about suicide?
One of the best things you can do is ask them! When asking them, be direct and specific “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”. Often, people are afraid that asking about suicide might put the idea into the head of their loved one but there is no research indicating that this is the case. By asking, you have the opportunity to show them you are concerned and follow up with support. Some things to consider in approaching how you will talk to them include:
- Distractions – Ensure it is a time when you are both free of distractions
- Confidentiality – Is there is anyone else around who might overhear?
- Comfort – Are you in a place where you are both comfortable to talk?
- Confidence – If you ask them confidently, you also show them that you can handle their answer
- No Pressure – If they do not want to talk, that is okay and you can let them know it is okay and that you are available to talk when they are ready
- Tone of Voice – Express empathy and understanding, never guilt or shame
If someone tells you they have been thinking about suicide, it might help to find out a bit more about the types of thoughts they are having and how likely they are to act on these thoughts.
If they are in immediate risk of acting on their thoughts and cannot be kept safe then seeking immediate help will be necessary by
- Calling 000
- Taking them to an emergency department of your local hospital for clinical assessment
- Psychiatric Triage can also be accessed via phone for guidance and advice
If they are currently safe but having suicidal thoughts with no plans to act on them then you can discuss with them appropriate support options including:
- Seeing a GP, often a GP will refer to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for ongoing support
- Develop a safety plan together on how they can stay safe and manage these thoughts, Beyond Now is a great app designed for this very purpose
- Discuss who else they would like to tell such as a partner or a parent
- Provide them with the number for Beyond Blue, which is a 24 hour phone counselling hotline and/or suicide hotline
- By talking to them you show you care and can give them hope that support is available and things can get better
- Set up a time to check in on them again in the future