Why does someone consider suicide?
Life can be painful and problems can seem overwhelming at times. Some people may think about suicide but do not act upon it. For others, suicide seems like the only way out of their situation or the feelings they are experiencing. They generally feel very alone and hopeless. They believe nobody can help them or understand what they are going through.
There are many reasons why someone considers suicide:
- Relationship break-ups
- Family problems
- Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
- Drug or alcohol problems
- Mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression
- Eating disorders like Anorexia
- Major loss and grief such as a death or the suicide of a friend, family member, public figure
- School, uni or work problems
- Unemployment or being unemployed for a long time
- Feeling like they don't belong anywhere
- Financial or legal problems
- Any problem that they can't see a solution for
Almost everyone who takes their own life gives some clue or warning. Never ignore suicide threats. Take people’s suicidal thoughts and feelings very seriously and help them find effective help.
Possible signs someone may be thinking of suicide
Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognise these warning signs and respond to them.
- Recent loss (a loved one, job, relationship or pet)
- Major disappointment (missed promotion at work, failed exams)
- Change in circumstances (divorce, retirement, separation, children leaving home)
- Mental disorder/illness
- Physical illness/injury
- Suicide of someone they know or recognise
- Financial/Legal problems
- Feeling trapped
- Irritable/moody, angry
- No sense of purpose/reason for living
Previous suicide attempts
- Talking or writing about suicide/death, even if it seems to be a joke
- Seeking access to something they can kill themselves with
- Being moody, withdrawn or sad
- Saying goodbye/giving away possessions
- Losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
- Taking less care of their appearance
- Anxiety or agitation, including difficulty concentrating or sleeping
- Engaging in self-destructive or risky behaviour
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawal from other people
- Sometimes a positive mood after a period of being down may indicate the person has made up their mind to take their own life, and feels relief that the decision has been made
What can you do to help prevent suicide?
1. Reach Out - Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. It needs to be a direct question that can’t be misinterpreted
"Are you thinking about suicide?"
Most people with thoughts of suicide want to talk about it. They want to live – but desperately need someone to hear their pain and offer them help to keep safe.
Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are thinking about suicide. This shows you care and they’re not alone.
2. Listen to them - Allow them to express their feelings. Let them do most of the talking. They will often feel a great sense of relief someone wants to talk to them about their darkest thoughts.
3. Check their safety - If you are really worried don’t leave them alone. Remove any means of suicide including weapons, medications, drugs, alcohol, even access to a car. Get help by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, or emergency services on 000. You can also take them to the local hospital emergency department.
4. Decide what to do and take action - Talk about steps you can take together to keep them safe. Don’t agree to keep it a secret, you shouldn’t be the only one supporting this person. You may need help from someone else to persuade them to get help. You can also help by finding out information on what resources and services are available for a person who is considering suicide.
5. Ask for a promise - Thoughts of suicide may return, so ask them to promise to reach out and tell someone. Asking them to promise makes it more likely they will tell someone.
6. Get help - There are lots of services and people that can help and provide assistance.
Counsellor, psychologist, social worker
Emergency Services 000
Community Health Centres
Crisis support services like Lifeline, Kids helpline
Seek support from family and friends, youth group leader, sports coach, priest, minister or religious leader etc.
In some situations they may refuse help and you can’t force them to get help. You need to ensure the appropriate people are aware of the situation. Don’t shoulder this responsibility yourself.