How to talk about suicide

Talking to someone about your suicidal thoughts can be very tough. You may be concerned about what the other person will think and that they may tell you that you are overreacting. You might feel nervous or embarrassed. You might feel that it is easier to keep it to yourself rather than taking the risk of telling someone. 

However, if you chose the right person, then talking with them about how you are feeling can help. 

 

In an emergency

If you are in immediate danger, or concerned for your safety in any way:

  • Call 000 and request an ambulance. Stay on the line, speak clearly, and be ready to answer the operator’s questions
  • Attend your local hospital’s emergency department;
  • Call your local Public Emergency Mental Health Service (See our list of services by area here)

Each of these emergency services teams are specially trained to support people in crisis, including people feeling suicidal, and are able to keep you safe.

 

Who can I talk to?

Someone you trust

Choose someone who you can be honest with and who you can trust. It may be a friend or family member, a doctor, counsellor or someone else in your life who you feel comfortable with. 

You can also talk to a counsellor on a helpline such as SuicideLine, which is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Be clear and honest with them about what has been going on for you, including your suicidal thoughts and feelings.

You can start by talking about what’s upsetting you. Let them know how you’ve been struggling and what you’re feeling. Listed below are some ideas to get you started or you can use your own words. This is a difficult conversation to start so take your time so you are comfortable and ready.

 

What do I say?

  • “Things have been getting on top of me lately and I'm wondering if we can talk about it.”
  • “I've been feeling really upset and I'm worried about some of the things I've been thinking lately.”
  • “I'm feeling a bit out of control recently and am feeling really distressed. I need to talk about it.” 

 

A health professional

When talking to a professional about your suicidal thoughts, it is important to let them know whether you have: 

 

  • been thinking more often or in more detail about how you would kill or hurt yourself
  • access to the means to carry out these ideas, or taken steps to obtain these means
  • thought about when and how you would kill or hurt yourself
  • tried to hurt or kill yourself before, and if so how what you did
  • made a definite decision to kill or hurt yourself

 

Sharing this information with a professional is an important step in making sure you get the right support to keep yourself safe.

 

What do I say? 

Here are some examples of how you might talk to a health professional about how you are feeling and the thoughts you are having:

 

  • “I've had thoughts of killing myself and I've been thinking about how I might do it.”
  • “I can’t stop thinking about hurting myself and I have a plan about how and when I am going to do it.”
  • “These thoughts of killing myself are getting too much for me and I'm worried that I'm going to do it.”

 

Talking about suicide is difficult, but it is important to get support for yourself at this time. To find out more see Suicide: where to get help for information on professional support options, and Self-help for suicidal feelings for tips on ways you can manage these difficult feelings.

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