I'm Worried About Someone
If you think someone you care about is at risk of suicide or has recently tried to take their own life then communication and support is vital. If you’re not sure how to talk to them, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 and one of our trained Telephone Crisis Supporters will be there to support you.
How to help
If you see the signs that someone you know is struggling, you can be a great support to them by asking if they are OK and being willing to listen and get them to help if needed. Don’t ever understimate the power you have to connect with another person and help them find hope and stay safe.
Everyone experiences emotional distress in different ways. Not everyone who is having a difficult timne will show outward signs.
However, here are some signs to look out for if you are worried about someone:
- Restlessness and increased agitation
- Emotional outbursts
- Withdrawing from people they would usually connect with
- Withdrawing from regular activities such as work or school
- Describing feeling helpless, hopeless or worthless
- Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Not replying to messages, calls or emails, or being distant
- Talking about not being around anymore
Three Steps to Prevent Suicide
If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide”? Don’t be afraid to do this, it shows you care and will actually decrease their risk because it shows someone is willing to talk about it. Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.
2. Listen and Stay
If they say ‘yes’, they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else reliable to stay with them.
3. Get Help
Get them appropriate help. Call a crisis line like Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 000 if life is in danger. If you can get in straight away, visit a HP or psychologist. Offer to make the appointment and accompany them if it is their wish. Even if the danger is not immediate, they may need longer-term support for the issues that led them to feeling this way.
What is the person feeling?
Everyone is different, and suicidal thoughts and behaviours are complex. It can help for you to understand what is going on for the person by asking them how they are feeling, and what led them to feel this way. If they are ready to talk, ensure you listen respectfully.
Try not to interrupt or ask too many questions. Let them know you’re listening by your body language and by summarising what they have said where appropriate. It can really help for the person to feel truly heard, and you will understand more how to help them also.
Tips to support people
Every one of us has the inherent ability to be a support to another person. If you see signs that someone you know is struggling, you can be a great support to them by asking if they are OK and being willing to listen and get them to help if needed. Don’t ever underestimate the power you have to connect with another person and help them find hope and stay safe.
- Ask them directly how you can help, everyone is different and require different things to feel supported. Feel free to make suggestions of ways to help, but not too many as it may be overwhelming.
- Check in with the person in a non-confronting way. It may be easier for someone to reply to a text or email than having to answer a phone call or answering the door. However others may prefer a hug and a chat over a cup of tea so it’s always a good idea to ask. Don’t create an elephant in the room, ask how someone is if they have been unwell but you can also discuss other aspects of life.
- Listen — Create a non-judgemental environment, be empathetic, listen and be patient. A mental health problem or suicide attempt can take time to work through and often creates difficult behaviours such as irritability or lack of motivation.
- Encourage staying with a treatment plan and making a suicide safety plan so the individual knows where to go for help and how to delay acting on any suicidal thoughts. For more info on safety planning visit www.beyondblue.com.au/get-support/beyondnow-suicidesafety-planning
- Avoid telling people that you know how they feel, that it was ‘meant to be’, that they just need to ‘get on with it’ etc. it is showing the person that you do not understand how they feel.
- Positive — Encourage the person to engage in positive activities, no matter how small. It may be a shower, a chat with a friend, going to pick up bread and milk, sitting in the sunshine, throwing a ball for the dog, all of which may improve mood.
Self-care for you as a supporter
Supporting someone who is suicidal can cause a great deal of stress and can be physically and emotionally exhausting. It is important that you are aware of your own emotional wellbeing when helping others. If you feel you are unable to help the person who needs support, it is essential that you get them to someone reliable that they trust that can assist them, a GP, a Psychologist, or call Lifeline.
If you need support yourself, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Carers Australia 1800 242 636 which offers short-term counselling, emotional and psychological support services for carers and their families in each state and territory.