How to support someone at risk of suicide

If you are worried that someone is in imminent danger call 000.

September 08 2017


How to support someone at risk of suicide



If you are worried that someone is in imminent danger call 000.  Stay with them until help is arranged.

When someone is expressing that they want to harm themselves, it is important to take it seriously.  Contrary to popular belief, most people who attempt suicide show warning signs beforehand. These warning signs include help-seeking behaviours such as telling a trusted friend or family member. 

It can be frightening and overwhelming to hear that someone you care about wants to end their life. If you listen to their concerns, you can be more help than you realise, just by lending an ear.  You can also be integral in getting them the right kind of help. 

There are lots of avenues to consider for getting help:



Encourage them to see their general practitioner (GP) and go with them to the appointment if they want you to. Make sure the GP understands the seriousness of the situation.

The mental health team attached to your local hospital are also there to help. They may be able to assess the person you are worried about and arrange appropriate care.

Contact the local police who are able to conduct a welfare check.  If you are not near the person you are worried about, or they aren’t where you expect them to be, the police can help to locate the person and check on their wellbeing.  If they are in any danger, the police will usually ensure they are safe and this can include taking them to a hospital for proper care and assessment.

If they have seen a counsellor or psychologist previously, encourage them to make another appointment.  Encourage them to be open about their thoughts of harming themselves.  Go with them to the appointment if they want you to, even if you just sit in the waiting room during the appointment.  Your presence is a great support. 

The Suicide Call Back Service is an excellent national resource.  You can find out more at suicidecallback.org.au or by calling 1300 659 467.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may also be available to help you.  Your EAP counsellor will help you identify the best local resources and get help for the person you are worried about.  MAX staff, friends and family can contact the EAP any time on 1800 629 277 or support@maxsolutions.com.au.

References and more resources:


1.       Rudd, M. D., Berman, A. L., Joiner,Thomas E.,Jr, Nock, M. K., & al, e. (2006). Warning signs for suicide: Theory, research, and clinical applications. Suicide & Life - Threatening Behavior, 36(3), 255-62.

2.       Square (Suicide, questions, answers & resources)

3.       Suicide Call Back Service

4.       Lifeline or phone 13 11 14

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