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How knowing the warning signs of suicide could save a life

Tiana's best friend suicided when she was 15.
'What if..?' were the words that occupied Tiana's mind for months after Shae's death. She asked herself again and again what she could've done differently to catch her friend before it was too late.

Check out the blog Tiana also wrote here on TINO and below is the information featured on the cards Tiana has developed.

The 7 Warning Signs of Suicide

beyondblue Information Line: 1300 22 46 36

  • Making Direct or indirect threats about suicide
  • Dramatic changes in personality, appearance or mood
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • A dramatic drop in performance at school or work
  • Feelings of guilt or low self-esteem
  • Saying goodbye and giving personal belongings away
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Author: Propeller Project
  • Upload Date: 2014-04-07

This video was created by the FYA Propreller Project - helping young people create ideas and make them fly.

Stories on this Topic

Featured Story (text)

Is it Ok to see a counsellor

Is it Ok to see a counsellor

A work by Xin

I had a pretty bad time in high school. Without going into details, I was bullied, I knew what it was like to be hurt and alone, I felt angry, sad, and eventually I felt nothing. I was not okay, and I knew I was not okay, but no one else seemed to care. None of my friends were willing to really open up to me. It was like I was drowning and I was surrounded by people in boats, but none of them were willing to risk reaching out to me.

Read the full story about is it Ok to see a counsellor on the blog

Click to read the text

As part of our blog series Xin takes a personal look into the question, is it Ok to see a counsellor.

  • Author: Xin
  • Upload Date: 2013-02-25

Written by Xin as part of our blog section.


Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.


Wanting to end your life

Do you need help now?

If you need help now please call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you are in immediate danger please call 000. For more information read Reach Out's Emergency help section.

What to do if you want to commit suicide

suicide how to manage suicidal thoughts

Image credit | matthija | Flickr

If you are feeling suicidal or want to end your life, it's important that you keep yourself safe. Try to remember that thoughts about suicide are just thoughts. They do not mean you have to act on them. No matter how overwhelming they are or how often you have them. They also don't mean that you will always have those thoughts.

Everyone goes through tough times and experiences times when things seem hopeless. 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 suicidal or when things feel hopeless.

Some suggestions include:

Postpone any decision to end your life

While it may feel like you have to act now on your thoughts of suicide, try to postpone that decision. Keep a list of other things you can do to distract yourself.
This might include:

  • watching a DVD
  • going to the movies
  • playing a game
  • ringing a friend
  • chatting on msn
  • doing some exercise
  • reading a book
  • listening to music.

You can then put this into action when the suicidal feeling starts to surface. Many people report that by postponing a decision to die, they found that their life did change. They were able to get the support they needed and could move on to a better, happier place.

suicide how to manage suicidal thoughts

Tell Someone

Although it may seem hard, and may seem like a bigger challenge than taking steps to commit suicide, it's important to reach out to others who might help you to see alternative ways of solving or thinking about a problem, and to help you to realise what is important to you, allowing you to have a more positive outlook.

You could tell a family member or friend, counsellor or any person that you feel comfortable with (this might also be a teacher or religious leader). If they don't believe you or don't want to listen, keep trying until someone else does. Sometimes people don't react well at first because they don't know how. This is not your fault, and although it may feel hard, don't give up!

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...'. Or try writing something down and giving the paper to the other person if you're having real difficulty speaking.

Ring a crisis line

If you are having difficulty talking to people you know, phone a crisis line.

  • Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) is free from a landline and won't show up on a phone bill.
  • Lifeline (131 114) is the cost of a local call from a landline.

Both of these services are anonymous and they're open 24hrs a day 7 days a week.

Write down your feelings

Writing down your feelings, or keeping a journal, can be a great way of understanding your feelings and a particular situation. It can also help you think about alternative solutions to problems.

Set small goals

Sometimes people set goals which are almost unachievable and then feel worse when they cannot reach them. Try to set goals that are achievable for you, even if it's on a day by day, or hour by hour, basis. And remember to reward yourself too.

Exercise + eating well

Even though you might not feel like it, exercising and eating well can help when you are feeling down.

Biological factors, as well as social factors, influence how you feel and how you react think about certain things and yourself. Exercise helps stimulate hormones, such as endorphins, which help you feel better about yourself and your life. If you haven't done a lot of exercise before, it might be a good idea to start doing something small a couple of times each week.  A 15 minute walk or 2 or 3 laps of a pool would be a good place to start.

Avoid drugs + alcohol

Try not to use drugs or alcohol in the hopes of feeling better. Using them may help you forget about your problems for a little while but when the effects wear off you'll often just feel worse.

Talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are health workers who have special training in mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, and suicide. Clinical psychologists have a similar training, but do not administer medication.

You may be able to find them through your GP, your local community health centre, or through colleges of psychiatry and psychology. Some GPs and other allied health staff also do counselling. You may be able to obtain details through divisions of general practice in your area, and/or through your community health centre. Check out Reach Out's Who can help you section for more info.

Why do people want to commit suicide?

Sometimes living can become very painful and problems can seem overwhelming. At some point many people think about suicide, 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 problem or situation that appears hopeless or as if there is no solution.

Situations that might contribute to a feeling of hopelessness include:

  • relationship break-ups
  • family problems
  • sexual, physical or mental abuse
  • drug or alcohol problems
  • mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar and depression
  • major loss and grief such as a death
  • school, uni or work problems
  • unemployment or being unemployed for a long time
  • feeling like you don't belong anywhere
  • any problem that you can't see a solution for and is ongoing.

Is deliberate self-harm the same as wanting to commit suicide?

Wanting to end your life, or suicide, is not necessarily the same as deliberate self-harm. Deliberate self-harm, such as cutting or burning oneself, is often used to cope with difficult or painful feelings. When someone can not express in words or make sense of their feelings or emotions, they may choose to hurt themselves physically.

However, most people who engage in deliberate self-harm do not wish to die. For more information about deliberate self-harm check out our info page

Worried about a friend

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.
However, if someone talks about wanting to commit suicide, the positive thing is that they are not keeping it to themselves; by telling someone they are most likely reaching out for help for themselves.

suicide how to manage suicidal thoughtsSuggestions for helping your friend who is suicidal

There are things you can do to support and help your friend if they threaten to commit suicide.

Don't keep it a secret that they are suicidal

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 keep safe.

Your friend may have asked you to keep it a secret or made you promise not to tell anyone. This is could be because they are frightened of what might happen if someone else knew. It is very important that you do tell someone - even if you have promised your friend that you would keep it a secret.

Your friend might get mad at you - but it's better that they are alive and well. The situation puts a lot of pressure on you - so the best thing to do is to talk to a counsellor, teacher, or doctor.
Another option is to call a helpline such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Encourage your friend to seek help

It's important your friend seeks help from a counsellor, psychologist, youth worker, teacher or doctor, or one of the helplines mentioned above. Although it might seem hard, these people have training to help your friend move to a better, happier place. They won't be angry at your friend or you for coming to them with this issue. Reach Out's Who can help you section can give you more information about how these people can help.

If your friend refuses to see someone

Keep encouraging them to. If you feel able to, you might offer to go with your friend when they speak to someone about their suicidal thoughts. It might also be helpful to forward them the fact sheets and stories listed on the left hand side.

Offer your support

It can be scary when you realise you need help. Let your friend know that you care and spend time with them. Just knowing that somebody cares about them can be reassuring as they may feel very alone and as if no one cares.
If they do talk to you about how they are feeling, it might help if you acknowledge that they are feeling down and that things might seem hard, while at the same time trying to remain positive and encouraging.

Choosing when to talk

Timing can be an important part of talking to someone about sensitive stuff. If possible, and if they are not at immediate risk of harming themselves, try to choose a time when you're both relaxed. Avoid talking with them during an argument or if they are really upset. If you talk to them during an aggressive or defensive moment you may end up getting a bad reaction and distancing them.

If you're not sure what to say, you might try saying 'I'm worried about you', 'You told me the other day you felt like ending your life, do you still feel that way?'.

Ask them to postpone the decision / create a toolkit

suicide how to manage suicidal thoughts

Image credit: 11363525@N02 | Flickr

While your friend may feel like they have to act now they can try to postpone that decision. They can keep a list of other things they can do to distract themselves. This might include watching a DVD or going to the movies, playing a game, ringing a friend, chatting online, doing some exercise, reading a book or listening to music. They can then put this into action when the feeling starts to surface.

Many people report that by postponing a decision to die they found that life did change. They got the support they needed and could move on to a better, happier place.

Thoughts don't need to lead to action

Remind your friend that thoughts about taking their life are just thoughts. They do not mean they have to act on them. No matter how overwhelming they are or how often they have them. They also don't mean that they will always have those thoughts.

Get informed

It might be helpful to have a general knowledge of suicide and depression. By doing this you may be able to better understand what your friend is going through and what might help. Check out our depression, anxiety and stress section for further info.

Looking after yourself

When you are worried about a friend you might feel stressed or overwhelmed and forget to look after yourself. It is important that you take care of how you are feeling. Speak to someone you trust, such as a family member, friend or counsellor. Having time away from your friend can be important and allow you to relax. Make sure you spend some time doing what you enjoy. You may want to play sport, hang out with other friends, listen to music, or go for a walk.


It's also important to remember that even though you can offer support, you are not responsible for the actions or behaviour of your friend. If they are not willing to help themselves it is not your fault.

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  1. [...] you would like more information now on suicide please visit our section on suicide with factsheet information as well as two podcast on suicide prevention and suicide. If you are in [...]

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