Talking about your experience with suicide

You may or may not want to talk about feeling suicidal, attempting suicide or being bereaved by suicide. It is common to feel unsure, worried and even distressed about what to say to others.

When you are ready, talking and connecting with trusted friends and family prevents isolation and helps you feel supported. But it can be useful to have a clear agreement about what information should be shared and with whom. Often a short message about what has happened and how you are now coping is enough for most people.

Considerations for sharing online
Often, you can find an incredible amount of support simply by turning to the people who may be going through a similar experience. Joining an online forum or peer support group and receiving advice from people who have been where you are can make you feel more validated and less alone.

But you do have to think carefully about whether certain social media platforms are the right place to talk about what has happened, and how you are feeling. While it is good to talk to others and get support, everyone is different and you might want to think about the following things first:

  • It is hard to know how other people reading the messages might react – they could become upset and worried about what has happened to you or it might bring up feelings for them that you may not know about. 
  • It might start with other people talking about what has happened to you before you are ready to tell them.
  • It can be harder to get private support that you may need on a public forum.
Sharing your story at work

Returning to work or study after being suicidal, attempting suicide or bereaved by suicide is a good sign that you are getting back on track, but it can be difficult to explain why you have been away.

If you don’t have close relationships with the people you work or study with you may not want to talk about what has happened; you might want to keep your personal and work/study life separate. However, by letting someone know (such as managers, supervisors, study coordinators), you can receive additional support.

It may be useful to discuss the possibility of:

  • flexible days or times in the initial return to work or study
  • the potential need to have time off to attend appointments
  • initial reduced work or study load while you transition back
  • flexible deadlines for work or study tasks
  • identifying who else can support you in the work or study setting.

In the video below, blueVoices member Shane talks about how support from his employer and colleagues made a huge impact on his recovery, and how it helped him feel supported to return to work. You can find more information and videos of people sharing their personal stories about returning to work following a traumatic experience on the Heads Up website.

Under equal opportunity laws, workplaces and teaching institutions (such as universities and TAFE) are required to make adjustments to support people who have been or are physically or mentally unwell. Before returning to either work or study, you may wish to get advice, or find out about your rights and/or what supports are available from services such as:

  • your workplace’s Human Resources department
  • the Employee Assistance Program provider or Student Counselling Service
  • the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Find out more on Heads Up
Seek help and support

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Seek out an understanding friend, family member or support group. It is best to do this sooner rather than later as it can make a real difference to you, your family and your friends.

When a family is affected by suicide, it is important to communicate with one another while also respecting each other's way of handling the experience. It can be a balancing act but give each other space and time to process emotions but also check in with each other to avoid distancing and isolation.

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Crisis support

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Other services include: