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Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts?

4-minute read

If you’re thinking about suicide, you’re not alone - and there is hope. Lots of people have suicidal thoughts, but have got through without harming themselves. There is help 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 you to know that lots of people struggle with life, and that many people who have had similar thoughts to you have found a way through it.

Remember that there's a big difference between thoughts and actions. Thoughts come and go, and don't have to be acted on.

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

  • personal problems - for example, relationship break-ups, being abused, or being bullied
  • major stresses - like problems with money or getting a job
  • mental health issues - such as overwhelming depression or anxiety
  • loss or grief - for example, the death of someone close to you
  • problems with drugs or alcohol
  • long-term pain or ill health
  • feeling alone and like you don't belong.

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

  1. Let someone know how you're feeling. Talk to a friend, family member, counsellor, or doctor - or contact a crisis service like Lifeline.
  2. Keep yourself safe. If you feel in danger, call triple zero (000) or go to your nearest hospital. Get rid of anything you could use to hurt yourself, and don't go to any places where you've thought about killing yourself.
  3. Don't make any hasty decisions. Remember that thoughts and feelings do pass with time.
  4. Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can make you feel worse or do things you wouldn't do if you were sober.
  5. Try not to be alone. Stay with someone you trust until you feel better. If that's not possible, talk to someone at a crisis service (see 'Where to get help').
  6. Make a safety plan. Sit down with your doctor or another support person, and work out a plan to follow when you're feeling suicidal. You might find the BeyondNow app helpful.
  7. 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?

If you decide to talk to 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.

Visit beyondblue's website for tips on things to say.

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 have access to something you could use to kill yourself
  • if you've tried to hurt yourself before

If you feel more comfortable talking to someone you don't know, call a crisis service - see 'Where to get help' below.

Where to get help

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

There are also many organisations out there 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: January 2018

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