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Sometimes living in today's society can become very painful and problems can seem overwhelming. Many people think about suicide at some point but do not plan or act on it.  However, for others the thought of suicide might begin to seem like a real alternative to a hopeless situation or a situation that appears to have no solution.

Situations that might contribute to a feeling of hopelessness include:

  • Relationship break-ups
  • Family problems
  • Sexual, physical or mental abuse
  • Drug, alcohol or gambling problems
  • Mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar and depression
  • Major loss and grief such as a death
  • School, uni or work problems
  • Unemployment or financial debt
  • Feeling like you don't belong anywhere
  • Any ongoing problem that you can't see a solution for

Everyone goes through tough times and experiences problems that seem unshakable. If you are feeling suicidal or want to end your life, it's important that you keep yourself safe. It is possible to get through these times by creating your own 'tool kit' of coping strategies, which you can use when you're feeling desperate or when your situation is hopeless. Some suggestions include:  

Postpone any decision to end your life: While it may feel like you have to act now, try to postpone that decision. 

Tell someone:  Although it may seem hard, and might be a bigger challenge than taking steps to end your life, it's important to reach out to others who might be able help you. If you are having difficulty speaking about what you're going through, you might start with sentences such as 'Right now, I'm feeling...', 'I think it started when...', 'I've been feeling this for...', 'My sleep has been...', 'Lately school/work/uni has been...'.

Ring a crisis line: If you feel you are having difficulty relating to people you know, phone a crisis line and someone will be able to talk to you about your feelings and what you are experiencing at the moment. 

What are the signs?

  • Ending/settling of affairs (e.g. closing accounts, giving others large sums of money, giving away loved possessions, or selling the house)
  • Hints that the person won't be around for much longer or statements like "I'm going on a really long trip"
  • Previous attempts at suicide
  • Inappropriately saying goodbye
  • Self harming behaviour
  • Statement of suicidal feelings
  • Reckless behaviour (e.g. increased promiscuity, drug taking or binge drinking)
  • Death or terminal illness of loved one
  • Sudden broken relationships

What are the causes?

In many cases, suicidality is difficult to predict. Immense dissatisfaction with current life situation alongside perceived inability to cope with life are predisposing factors for suicide.

How is suicidality treated?

The underlying mental disorder must be assessed and counselling is a must for all people who attempt or talk about suicide. Therapy will aim to reduce intense suffering, assist in expanding individuals narrow views of options for coping and assist with tolerating distress in life.

Sources of information: Reach Out! 

Information from Suicideline Victoria

Suicideline has detailed information on their site about understanding suicide, helping someone who is suicidal, how to make a suicide safety plan and where to go for help in Victoria.

Suicidal behaviour fact sheet by Sane Australia

SANE Australia is a national charity working for a better life for people affected by mental illness. Their information pages about suicide and self harm includes relationship with mental illness, why people feel suicidal/self harm, warning signs, treatment and prevention.

Information page about suicide and suicidal feelings by Reach Out!

The aim of Reach Out! is to improve young people's mental health and well being by providing support information and referrals. Their information page explains the difference between self harm and suicide, how to make a safe plan, and suicide support services.

If your friend tells you they are feeling suicidal or that they want to end their life, take it seriously. Hearing this might make you feel overwhelmed or worried, especially if your friend is very upset or angry.

Don't keep it a secret - Secrets can be dangerous if your friend is going to get hurt or die. It is important to tell someone who can help you and can help your friend stay safe. This may be a counsellor, teacher, or doctor. Another option is to call a helpline such as Lifeline or Kidshelpline (contact details on right hand side of this page).

If you believe someone is thinking about ending their life the Suicide Helpline Victoria recommends the following steps:

1. Let them know you are concerned

- Tell them that you are concerned, and that you are there to help

2. Ask if they are thinking about suicide and if they have made any plans

- Talking about suicide will not make them take action

- Asking shows that you care

- Asking will help them talk about their feelings and plans - the first step to getting help

3. Take action to get help now

- Tell them that there are other options to suicide

- Don't agree to keep their suicidal thoughts or plans a secret

- Don't assume they will get better without help or that they will seek help on their own

 If the person is thinking about suicide, encourage them to :

- Make an appointment with a GP - offer to go along with them

- Contact a counsellor, family member or friend

- Contact a specialist helpline for information and advice

If a plan to end their life has been made :

- Check if they are able to carry out this plan - do they have a time, place or method?

- Do what you can to keep them safe by removing access to items such as knives, guns, etc. 

- Contact the Psychiatric Emergency Team at the local hospital and the police on 000, report that the person is suicidal, has made a plan, and you fear for their safety.

4. Take care of yourself too

- Look after yourself - it is emotionally demanding to support someone who is suicidal

- Find someone to talk things over with - colleagues, family, friends or a telephone helpline.

Factors that increase the risk of suicide include:

- Expressing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

- Being socially isolated

- Having a recent loss - relationship, death, job, financial security 

- Making a previous suicide attempt

- Having a friend, family member or work colleague who has died by suicide

- Having a mental illness

- Behaving in a risky manner - drugs, alcohol abuse, driving recklessly.


A community based service for people aged 12 - 25 and their families, Headspace provides help for issues including health, education, work, mental health and drug & alcohol use.

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

SANE Australia

SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends. It also operates a busy telephone helpline and website.

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