Reasons for suicidal feelings

Suicidal behaviour results from a complex interaction between a wide variety of risk factors, immediate triggers and a lack of protective factors. 

There are certain indications that may help us determine whether a person may be at risk of suicide.

risk factors

Defining risk and protective factors

The reasons that people take their own lives are often very complex. Factors influencing whether someone is likely to be suicidal include:

  • Risk factors – sometimes called vulnerability factors,  these factors increase the likelihood of suicidal behaviour.
  • Protective factors – these reduce the likelihood of suicidal behaviour, and work to improve a person’s ability to cope with difficult circumstances.

Risk and protective factors can occur:

  • at an individual or personal level. This includes mental and physical health, self-esteem, and ability to deal with difficult circumstances, manage emotions, or cope with stress
  • at a social level. This includes relationships and involvement with others such as family, friends, workmates, the wider community and the person’s sense of belonging
  • at a contextual level. This is also known as a person's broader life environment. This includes cultural, environmental, spiritual, religious, political and economic factors that all contribute to available options and quality of life.

For more information on risk and protective factors, you can visit youth suicide risk factors on this website or visit the Youthbeyondblue website for more information.


Risk factors

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • History of substance abuse
  • History of mental health conditions – depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD
  • Relationship problems – conflict with parents and / or romantic partners
  • Legal or disciplinary problems
  • Access to harmful means, such as medication or weapons
  • Recent death or suicide of a family member or a close friend
  • Ongoing exposure to bullying behaviour
  • Physical illness or disability.

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: