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Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts?

7-minute read

If you, or someone else, is at immediate risk of suicide, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance now.

What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts are thoughts about wanting to end your life. You might be thinking about the ways you might end your life, or the emotional pain you’re feeling.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you are not alone — 3% of Australians have considered suicide in the past 12 months.

Remember — help is at hand.

Why do I feel like this?

Finding yourself thinking about suicide can be frightening. You might feel alone, and like nobody can understand what you're going through. It may help to know that lots of people struggle with life. Many people who have had the same thoughts have found a way through.

Remember that there's a big difference between thoughts and actions. Thoughts come and go, and don't have to be acted on. Your thoughts are not always the ‘truth’.

People have all sorts of reasons for thinking about suicide. It might be one big thing, or it might be a mixture of things. Some of the most common reasons for suicidal thoughts are:

Personal problems can include:

Major stresses might include problems with your:

  • money
  • health
  • housing
  • job

Whatever your reason, life can be very hard, and you may feel like there's no hope for the future. That's when it's time to get help.

What should I do if I have suicidal thoughts?

If you, or someone else, is at immediate risk of suicide, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance now.

If you're having suicidal thoughts, there are some things you need to do.

  • Let someone know how you're feeling. Talk to a friend, family member, counsellor, or doctor. Or call a crisis service like Lifeline.
  • Keep yourself safe. If you feel in danger, call triple zero (000) or go to your nearest hospital. Get rid of anything you can use to hurt yourself. Don't go anywhere where you've thought about killing yourself.
  • Don't make any hasty decisions. Remember that thoughts and feelings pass with time.
  • Do not use drugs and alcohol. They can make you feel worse or do things you wouldn't do if you were sober.
  • Try not to be alone. Stay with someone you trust until you feel better. Or call a crisis service (see 'Where to get help' below).
  • Make a safety plan. Sit down with your doctor or support person and make a safety plan. Follow this if you're feeling suicidal. Your plan will remind you of reasons to live. It will also help to connect you with people and services who can help you during difficult times. You might find the BeyondNow app helpful.
  • Help yourself — follow some tips for managing suicidal feelings to see if they help.

Watch this video from Lifeline's YouTube channel, in which survivors of suicide share their stories to encourage others to seek help.

How to talk to someone about suicidal thoughts

When you're feeling bad, it can seem like the hardest time to talk about how you feel. But if you don't, it can make things seem even worse.

You might worry about what people will think of you, or how they might react. But while talking can be hard, it's the first step to feeling better. So how do you have the conversation?

Talking with a friend or family member

If you decide to talk with a friend or family member:

  • be patient with yourself, take your time
  • start by letting them know you're struggling and need to talk
  • be honest and clear, so they can understand what's going on
  • be prepared for their reaction

It might be hard for them to hear what you're saying but keep going, they will adjust.

Talking with a professional

If you decide to talk to a health professional, tell them:

  • you've been having suicidal thoughts
  • how often and in how much detail you think about suicide
  • if you can get something you could use to hurt yourself
  • if you've tried to hurt yourself before

They will guide the conversation once you get started, so hang in there.

Visit Beyond Blue's website for tips on things to say.

Can suicidal thoughts be prevented?

There are ways you can improve your mental health, which will help to protect you from suicidal thoughts. These include:

  • building resilience
  • working on creating strong, healthy relationships with your family and friends
  • trying to create a safe environment
  • accessing health services to support you

Where to get help

If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start.

There are also many organisations that can help you. Here are some you can visit online or call anytime (24 hours a day, 7 days a week):

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2022

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