Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Youth suicide

4-minute read

If you, or someone you know, is having suicidal thoughts and is in immediate danger, please call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Don’t leave the person alone until help arrives.

For help and support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, don’t ignore the warning signs. There are things you can do, both to keep safe now and to get help in the future. It can be very worrying when someone wants to take their own life – but suicide can be prevented.

Many young people have intense emotions and think about dying from time to time. They may feel overwhelmed by distress or pain. They may not actually want to die, but they see taking their life as the only way out. 

With support, things can improve and they can work through the crisis.

Young people and suicide

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young Australians. About 350 young people aged 15–24 take their own lives every year – more than die on the roads. For every youth suicide, there are 100 to 200 more attempts. 

People of all ages, races, genders, incomes and family backgrounds commit suicide. But young people are especially at risk.

Having depression or another mental health condition is one of the most common risk factors for suicide. Other things that put young people at risk include:

  • previous suicide attempts
  • problems with family or romantic relationships
  • being bullied
  • having access to potentially harmful medications or weapons
  • having a physical illness or disability
  • being gay, lesbian, bisexual, gender-diverse or an intersex person
  • being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australian

Young people are protected from attempting suicide if they are resilient and have positive relationships with parents or guardians, close friends and other adults. Helping young people feel safe, supported and part of the community are all important ways to protect them from suicide.

Warning signs

Never ignore the warning signs that a young person may be thinking about suicide. Common warning signs, behaviours and feelings include:

  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling worthless
  • feeling alone, like no-one understands
  • showing a drastic change in mood or behaviour
  • being aggressive and irritable
  • talking about dying a lot, or making arrangements for when they are dead
  • possessing weapons, sharp objects or medication
  • self-harming (such as cutting their skin)
  • doing risky things
  • using a lot of alcohol or illicit drugs

The person might lose interest in their friends or social activities. They may seem to stop caring about other people or events. Their school or work performance might suffer, and they might get into trouble with the police or even run away. They might also have problems sleeping. 

While it’s important not to ignore these signs, sometimes there is no indication that a person is thinking of suicide.  

What to do now

If it’s an emergency, call triple zero (000) or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the first thing to do is to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Talking and listening allows a young person to open up about what they’re going through and take the first steps towards getting help. See below for a list of helplines you can call now.

If you are with a young person who is thinking about suicide, don’t leave them alone. Make sure the young person doesn’t have access to things that they could harm themselves with, including sharp objects, drugs, weapons, medications or a car. 

Don’t promise to keep it a secret – they need professional help. Let them know you will support them. Get them to promise they will always tell you or another adult if they are feeling like this again. 

What to do in the longer term

A young person at risk of suicide needs to see a qualified mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, their situation can improve.

The first step is to see a doctor for a mental health assessment. There are many different treatment options. 

You can also develop a suicide safety plan. This will help the young person go through a series of steps for when they are feeling suicidal, including noticing the warning signs, listing all the reasons to live, and taking steps to make themselves safe.

Beyond Now is an easy-to-use suicide safety planning app for smartphones. You can download it from Beyond Blue.

Where to get help

More information

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

Last reviewed: June 2019

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results


Youth suicide affects families every day in Australia. It is the leading cause of death among young people, with around 350 young people aged 15-24 dying by suicide in 2013.

Read more on beyondblue website

Suicide and teenagers - ReachOut Parents

Understand the causes and risks of youth suicide and what to look out for in your teenager.

Read more on website

Teen suicidal thoughts & suicide attempts | Raising Children Network

If your teenage child is having suicidal thoughts or has made a suicide attempt, you and your child need support. Heres what to do and how to get help.

Read more on website

Risk factors for suicide

Risk factors are pretty much exactly what they sound like issues in a young persons life that increase the likelihood (risk) of them acting on suicidal thoughts. The more challenges a young person has in their life, the greater their risk of suicide.

Read more on beyondblue website


Common myths about mental health

Read more on Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health website

Warning signs for suicide

Research shows that there are some key suicide warning signs to be aware of. Warning signs are behavioural changes, thoughts or feelings that can provide 'clues' or 'red flags' about your young persons risk of suicide.

Read more on beyondblue website

Suicide prevention - Knowing the signs

It is not always possible to know if someone is thinking about suicide; people don’t often talk directly about it, sometimes their communication is indirect and even unclear

Read more on beyondblue website

Suicide and Self-Harm - Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health

People who engage in self-harm deliberately hurt their bodies. The term 'self-harm' (also referred to as 'deliberate self-injury' or parasuicide) refers to a range of behaviours, not a mental disorder or illness.

Read more on Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Helping your children after a suicide

This article is intended for parents whose children or teenagers have experienced the loss of a friend or another student at school through suicide, although much ofthe informationwill apply in other situations

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Suicide TINO : Tune In Not Out

My message goes out to all of the young people going through really tough times and my message is simple: hold on as it can and will get better

Read more on Tune In Not Out website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo