Below you’ll find information to understand, identify and manage suicidal thoughts.
If you feel like your life may be in immediate danger or you have made plans to take your life, please reach out for support now. Talk to a trusted family member, friend or health professional. Other options are to get in touch with Lifeline by calling 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
It might feel overwhelming if you are having suicidal thoughts. It might even feel like these thoughts will never go away. However, remember that the thoughts will ease or stop given time – just like other thoughts do.
If you are having suicidal thoughts it is important to share these with someone you trust so you get support and don’t act on these thoughts.
It can be tough to find the words to tell others about how you’re feeling, particularly if you are feeling a sense of being a burden on those around you and are struggling to remember the positive things you bring to their lives.
It’s ok to be confused by how you’re feeling. Below we’ve shared some warning signs for you to look out for, as well as some ways to stay safe if suicidal thoughts intensify.
Recognising how you are feeling and when you need to get support is important for everyone. Being able to tell whether your feelings are out of the ordinary can be hard to work out sometimes. It helps to know that changes in your feelings or behaviour can provide a clue.
Changes in your actions
- Spending less time with friends or family than usual, or pushing people away
- Eating less, or more, than usual
- Sleeping problems – sleeping too little or too much (and still feeling tired)
- Being more reckless than usual (for example, spending too much money, driving dangerously)
- Not looking after yourself (for example, not bothering to wash or to brush teeth)
- Giving away possessions or putting affairs in order
- Researching methods of how to harm yourself or end your life
- Making a plan on how you will harm yourself or end your life.
Changes in your emotions and thoughts
- Feeling ‘trapped’ or thinking or talking about death as an ‘escape’ or ‘relief’ from feeling distressed
- Feeling guilty or like a burden on others
- Having little or no interest in the future, or assuming that the future will be bad
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling at peace because you have a plan to end your life.
Changes in your life circumstances
Stressful events or major life changes can be difficult for anyone. For some people, this stress may lead to thoughts of suicide, particularly if already overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Some of these could include:
- Being unemployed or having difficulties with school or work
- Difficulty with the law or financial problems
- Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, menopause, or other changes in life
- Problems with alcohol or other drugs, including difficulty coming off or changing medication
- Moving to a new house or neighbourhood or moving to live alone
- Being abused or bullied or dealing with past experience of this pain
- Experiencing the death of somebody close, ending a close relationship or the anniversary of sad event in your life
- Being diagnosed with a physical or mental health problem.
Sometimes positive life events can be stressful too, such as the birth of a child, or a new job or relationship.
What should you do if you see these signs in yourself?
Not everyone who experiences warning signs or stressful events becomes suicidal. However, if some of these changes occur for you, or if many of them occur at the same time, it's important to take extra care of yourself and to seek support.
Staying safe and getting help
Because it can be hard to think clearly when you're feeling suicidal, it is a good idea to have a safety plan in place. A safety plan aims to give you ideas about what you can do, who you can talk to or where you can get help if are having thoughts about suicide or harming yourself.
Beyond Blue has an app that walks you through the development of a safety plan you can have in your pocket when you feel distressed or suicidal. There's also an online version that you can use on your computer or laptop. Many people also find it helpful to create their safety plan with the help of family and friends, or a professional.
You don’t have to manage your suicidal thoughts on your own. A health professional can help you understand your suicidal thoughts and learn coping skills that might help manage them.
Staying safe when thoughts move to plans to take your life
If ever you feel like you will act on your plan to take your life, tell someone how you feel (for example, a family member, friend, or a health professional). Ask them to stay with you until you get help. Being with someone, even over the phone, increases your safety.
Try to focus your thoughts on finding ways to stay safe. Once you’re safe you can work out how to get the help you need.
- If you have already created a safety plan, refer to the information in it.
- Delay any decisions to end your life, even if you don’t think you will change your mind. Give yourself time to get support.
- Remove anything in the house that you might use to impulsively harm yourself – maybe give it to a friend.
- Avoid being alone, if possible.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can intensify how you feel and make decision making more impulsive.
- Call or message local services and national support to help keep you safe.
You are not alone in this. There are people ready to listen to how you’re feeling.
If your life is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your closest emergency department.
You are not alone and you can get through this. Life after a suicide attempt is not easy but with time and the right support you can find your way back to a life filled with hope, connection and a new sense of purpose and meaning.
This resource is a starting point for working through some of the questions that can come up after a suicide attempt. Developed by people who have been there, it has ideas about what may assist you in regaining a sense of control and to get back on track.
“Looking back now, I wish I did open up a lot earlier and speak up to my family. Yes, I did with professionals, but not the people that saw me every day and were there for me no matter what. So, my best advice is, as uncomfortable as it is, as much as your voice will shake and your heart will pound like a drum kit, just open up.”
Find support services
If you or someone you know feels unsafe, there are a number of local and national services that can help you.