Information

This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.

Suicidal Behaviour

Risk

If you have any reason to believe that a young person is at imminent risk of harm to themselves or others get the young person to present to the nearest emergency department and/or call an ambulance.

Refer to the Emergency and Crisis Support section on this website.

Some factors that indicate someone is at risk of suicide include:

  • History of previous suicide attempts.
  • Having a suicide plan.
  • Depressed or angry mood over at least two weeks.
  • Inexplicable change of mood such as sudden positivity over a shorter time – this may indicate that a decision to suicide has been made.
  • Hopelessness and an inability to think of different options for the future.
  • An inability to think of solutions other than suicide.
  • Knowing someone who has attempted suicide (especially a close friend or family member).
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Recent relationship conflicts or loss of meaningful relationships.
  • Recent loss of usual pleasures, or giving away valued possessions.
  • Excessive talk about suicide or death.

Most, but not all, people who are thinking about suicide tell someone before they attempt it.

No matter what is driving the suicidal feelings, it is important to always take a suicide threat seriously.

Asking someone if they are thinking about killing themselves will NOT make suicide more likely, so talk directly to the person.

Strategies

Professionals

  • Talk to the person.
  • Develop a Safety plan with the young person, with the identification of real strategies and people they can use when they feel like they want to hurt themselves.
  • Try to understand the reasons for their distress.
  • Never talk of suicide lightly or try to joke someone out of it.
  • Ask the young person if they have a plan. If they do try to get as much information in detail about their plan – where, when, how, alone or with someone etc.
  • Talking openly and honestly provides a safe opportunity to learn new solutions to seemingly insolvable problems.
  • If the person will not talk to you, assist them to make contact with someone who they will talk with.
  • If the person has a history of prior attempts and a clear intention to suicide, in the immediate future, you must consult others or make a referral to psychiatric services (or contact police who can section the young person to a mental health facility for their own safety) whether the person consents or not. Your duty of care overrides the need for confidentiality.

Children/Adolescents

  • Talk to someone you trust (school counsellor, trusted friend or doctor).
  • Remember that these feelings were not always there; life has been better and can be again.

Parents/Carers

  • Assist them to speak to a professional about suicidal thoughts.
  • Listen, be non-judgemental.
  • Acknowledge their fear/anxiety/distress.
  • Be sensitive to the seriousness of their thoughts and feelings.
  • Put a support network in place – family, friends, and contacts for emergencies.
  • Be willing to discuss suicidal feelings openly and honestly.

Useful Websites/Resources