What to do if someone you know is feeling suicidal?
With September marking the yearly R U OK Day and World Suicide Prevention Day, it seemed vital for us to provide some helpful tips for assisting those around us who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. We can often feel stuck with how we can help in these situations, however, there are a few practical steps we can take, that can help save a life.
Step one: look out for warning signs
Look out for warning signs that suggest someone might be at risk:
Talking about suicide.
Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or burdensomeness.
Withdrawing and isolating from social contact.
Getting the means that may aid in taking their own life.
Having someone in their life who has died by suicide.
Saying goodbye as if they won’t be seen again.
Giving away all their possessions.
Engaging in self-destructive or risky behaviour, such as excessive drinking or drug use, or driving recklessly.
Step two: asking and offering support
Asking and offering support:
Let the person know you are concerned by approaching them calmly, in a caring manner, and describing what you have noticed that makes you worried.
Ask directly if they are having thoughts about suicide.
This may feel uncomfortable, but simply asking is not increasing the risk for the person, it is providing the opportunity for the person to say how they are really going.
Listen without judgment.
Empathise with their position.
Initially, avoid offering solutions or trying to convince them they should not be having these thoughts.
Step three: identify if they have a plan
Identify if the person has made a suicide plan:
Do they have a time, place, or method in mind?
Help them identify reasons for staying alive to dismantle this plan.
Step four: encourage the person to get professional help
Encourage the person to get professional help:
Encourage and support them to make an appointment with a GP/doctor or a mental health professional.
Contact a crisis support line:
If the person is in immediate danger, encourage and support them to attend the nearest Emergency Department or call 000 for assistance.
Step five: take care of yourself
Take care of yourself. It can be emotionally challenging to support a person in a suicide crisis. Make sure you are properly looking after yourself by sharing your experience with supportive people in your life, and continuing to do things you enjoy.
Written by Nina Loncarevic, Clinical Psychologist.
If you're concerned about yourself or someone you care for and would like to learn more about how to help someone who is feeling suicidal, or to book an appointment one of our experienced clinical psychologists, contact our friendly client team by calling 6143 4499 or email via our contact page.
Monday to Thurs 8:30am - 7:30pm
Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Saturday 8:30am - 2:30pm
6 Outram Street
West Perth, 6005 WA
36 St Quentin Avenue
Claremont, 6010 WA
In the spirit of reconciliation, Lawson Clinical Psychology acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
Lawson Clinical Psychology celebrates the extraordinary diversity of people’s bodies, ability, genders, sexualities and relationships that they represent.