Responding to warning signs


Speak up if you are worried

Talking to someone about his or her suicidal thoughts can be challenging but if you are unsure whether someone is going to kill him or herself, the best way to find out is to ask.

You might be worried that you will ‘put the idea of suicide into a person’s head’ if you ask about suicide. However, you cannot make a person suicidal by showing your concern. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can give relief from isolation and pent-up negative feelings, and may in fact reduce the risk of suicide.

How to start a conversation about suicide

  • “You haven’t seemed yourself lately and I’m worried about you.”
  • “I have noticed that you have been doing (X/Y/Z), and I’m wondering how you are going?”

Questions you can ask

  • “What can I do to help you?”
  • “I’d like to help you get through this, is there something I can do for you?”

What you can say that helps

  •  “I want to help you and I am here for you when you want to talk.”

The following questions can be used to establish if the person may be suicidal:

  • Do you intend to take your life? (INTENTION)
  • Do you have a plan to take your life? (PLAN)
  • Do you have access to the means to carry out your plan? (MEANS)
  • Do you have a timeframe for taking your life? (TIMEFRAME)

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

If someone is planning to take their own life they need to be linked into help immediately and not left alone. In an emergency see below for immediate support or visit the Get support now page for more options.

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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