What are the warning signs?

Sometimes, when someone is having a hard time, they may consider harming themselves or taking their own life.

Suicidal behaviour indicates deep unhappiness, not necessarily a mental health issue. Many people living with mental health issues aren’t suicidal, and not all people who take their own lives have a mental health issue.

When someone talks about harming themselves or suicide, they’re usually saying 'I’m not coping right now' or 'I need some help'. They may harm themselves because they want to stop or release some of the unbearable pain they’re experiencing.

Things to look out for

Someone who is thinking about suicide will usually give some clues or signs to people around them, even though these might be subtle. Suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and taking them seriously.

Warning signs might include:

  • A sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future.
  • Isolation or feeling alone – “No one understands me”.
  • Aggressiveness and irritability – “Leave me alone”.
  • Possessing lethal means – medication, weapons.
  • Negative view of self – “I'm worthless”.
  • Drastic changes in mood and behaviour.
  • Frequently talking about death – “If I died would you miss me?”.
  • Self-harming behaviours like cutting.
  • Risk-taking behaviours – “I’ll try anything, I’m not afraid to die". 
  • Making funeral arrangements.
  • Giving things away (clothes, expensive gifts) – “When I'm gone, I want you to have this”.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Feeling like a burden to others – “You'd be better off without me”.
  • Talking about suicide – “Sometimes I feel like I just want to die”.

map of things to look out for

The video below features extracts from interviews with Beyond Blue's blueVoices members reflecting on the warning signs they saw with family and friends who died by suicide.

Noticing the warning signs

"Her mood would change dramatically. One minute she would be her bubbly self and the next she'd get really dark"

Visit the Conversations Matter website for helpful tips on how to talk about suicide. 

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:

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