Suicide – the reality

As a major cause of death in Australia, suicide takes the lives of eight people each day. This is more deaths than are caused by motor vehicles.

In general, suicide rates are increasing Australia-wide and within several demographic groups, such as rural communities, those in high-risk occupations, those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+ people and the low socioeconomic class

How can we contribute to the reduction of suicide

  • Orienting the mental health system towards mental wellbeing, suicide prevention and early behavioural intervention
  • Developing the most effective, evidence-based activities and messages to improve mental health literacy in at-risk rural communities
  • Combining ‘universal’ interventions (population-wide), ‘selective’ interventions (for high-risk groups) and ‘indicated’ interventions (for individuals)
  • Providing nationally recognised training to health professionals (particularly general practitioners) on the mental health needs of high-risk demographic groups
  • Recognising the important contribution that social determinants of health can have on individual suicide risk
  • Facilitating support groups and delivering free, confidential counselling for carers (including partners, family and close friends) following a suicide attempt
  • Enhancing digital connectivity and digital literacy for at-risk communities to maximise the effective use of telehealth services for mental health consultations, counselling, and peer support.

Warning signs that someone may be suicidal

  • Talking about wanting to harm themselves, or to die
  • Inflicting harm such as burning or cutting themselves
  • Feelings of hopelessness, like nothing may ever get better
  • Deep emotional pain, that just wont away. This may include struggling to overcome a big disappointment or loss in their life
  • A worrying, unusual change in behaviour. Often showing signs of anger, irrational behaviour or being withdrawn

Symptoms of Suicide

  • Depression or extreme sadness.
  • Trouble paying attention.
  • Numbness or feeling like nothing matters.
  • Strong mood swings (happy-to-sad or happy-to-angry).
  • Feeling really annoyed or irritable.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, anxious, panicky, or worried.
  • Self-injury, such as cutting, scratching, or burning themselves on purpose.
  • Disordered eating, such as eating too much or too little, making themselves throw up, or exercising too much.
  • Impulsive or reckless behaviour, like doing things without thinking or not caring if they might get hurt.
  • Drinking, smoking, or using drugs too often.

How can you respond

  • Ask them if they are okay or if they are thinking of hurting or killing themself. Asking about suicide will not “put the idea in their head.” In fact, a lot of people thinking about suicide feel relieved when they can talk about their feelings.
  • Listen. Someone thinking about suicide needs your support. So don’t say they’re being silly, dramatic, or overreacting. Don’t interrupt or try to say things are not as bad as they think; just let them talk about their thoughts and feelings, and be a good listener
  • Tell them you are worried and concerned about them
  • Let them know they have been heard. Don’t be afraid to repeat back to them what you have heard to make sure you understand. Don’t judge what they say; just let them know that you have been listening and understand why they are upset.
  • Tell them they are not alone. Having mental health concerns can be very lonely. People may feel like they are different from everyone else or that no one can understand. Even more importantly, let them know that you and others care, and you’re there to support them.
  • If you believe someone is going to hurt themself right now or has already hurt themself, call 000 immediately.