Suicidal signs to look for in someone

It can be very difficult to understand why someone has reached the point where they are considering ending their life.

People who contemplate suicide are experiencing intense emotional pain and may view suicide as a way to end this pain. The pain they are feeling may be due to any number of experiences or circumstances. Negative life events can sometimes act as triggers for suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

We don’t fully understand suicidal behaviour, and there are normally a number of factors to consider. 

Signs people may be at risk of suicide 

While people at risk of suicide may try to hide how they are feeling, they often give out warning signs.

You might notice changes in their behaviour or be aware of events in their life that could be affecting them. 

Signs to look for include: 

  • previous suicide attempt/s
  • talking about suicide
  • talking about being a burden to others
  • talking about feeling trapped or having unbearable pain
  • agitation, anxiety and/or irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in appearance
  • taking time off work
  • a recent stressful event or loss
  • social withdrawal/feeling alienated
  • seeming preoccupied with an internal thought or problem
  • self-harm or self-injury.

Speaking with someone you are concerned about

If a person says that they ‘feel suicidal’ or phrases suggesting suicidality, such as ‘I just want to end it all’, take this seriously and ask directly, compassionately and openly if they mean that they are considering ending their life.

If you’re worried someone is going to do something to harm themselves, the best way to find out is to ask. You don’t have to be a trained professional to show that you care or offer help, most of the time people just want you to say that you’re there for them. Even if you don’t feel prepared for what the answer might be, listening to how they’re feeling is a good start and you can tell them that you can work it out together. We have some tips on how to have a conversation with someone you're about

Help if you think there is an immediate risk

If someone at work is in crisis and you think that they are at risk of immediate harm, call emergency services (triple zero – 000) or take them to your local hospital emergency department. 

Suicide Call Back Service can provide additional support. Suicide Call Back Service is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationwide service that provides free telephone, video and online counselling. 

Visit suicidecallbackservice.org.au/phone-and-online-counselling. Their professionally trained counsellors can help you if you are concerned about someone.

You can call from anywhere, anytime, on 1300 659 467 to discuss your concerns.

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:

Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.


All done! You should’ve received a confirmation email, so please check when you’re finished here and click the link in the email. If you can’t see it, we might be in your junk mail.

Subscribe failed. Please try later or contact us.