In Australia, and around the world, suicide is a really big issue. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death for men and women between 15 and 44.
During an average year, around 2,500 people in Australia die by suicide. That’s seven people every day.
In each of these cases, the death of one person has a difficult ripple effect, which affects the families, friends, workmates and community of that individual.
This article hopes to inform a little about how suicide can look from the outside, and what the friends and loved ones of someone who is having suicidal thoughts can do to help that person move through this stage in their life.
Even though every person is different, and may not show the same signs when considering suicide, many people do give some signs or clues to those around them. However, these can be incredibly subtle, which explains how they are often missed. The first step in suicide prevention is recognising these warning signs, and taking them seriously.
Some suicide warning signs include:
- A sense of hopelessness, particularly about the future
- Feeling alone and isolated
- Being aggressive or irritable
- Having access to lethal means (i.e. medication or weapons)
- Negative self view
- Marked changes in mood and behaviour
- Regularly talking about their own death
- Self-harming behaviours (i.e. cutting)
- Being unusually risky, as though they aren’t afraid to die
- Making arrangements for their funeral
- Giving away possessions that are expensive or important
- Abusing substances
- Considering themselves a burden to others
- Making suicide threats
What You Should Do
If someone close to you is exhibiting any of these signs, there are things you can do. Talking to someone about their suicidal thoughts can be really difficult, but if you aren’t sure if they’re serious or not, you should just ask.
1. Starting A Conversation
If you are concerned, start a conversation with the person, using some of the tips below:
“You haven’t been yourself lately, and I’m worried about you”
“I’ve noticed that you’ve been doing blank (suicide warning sign), and I’m wondering how everything is going with you.”
2. Establishing Connection
Let them know that you’re there and happy to help with these lines:
- “What can I do to help you?”
- “I’d like to help you, is there anything I can do?”
- “I want to help you, and I’m here anytime you want to talk.”
3. Suicidal Confirmation
These questions can be used to figure out if the person you’re talking to might be suicidal. They show the person has an intention, plan, means and a timeframe:
- “Do you intend to take your life?”
- “Do you have a plan for taking your life?”
- “Do you have the means to follow through with that plan?”
- “Do you have a timeframe for your plan?”