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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What should one do when they see situations, feelings or behaviors in others that may indicate they have suicidal thoughts?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Lifeline is a national charity delivering 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians. Lifeline connects people to a broad range of national … View Profile

    1. In a caring and non judgemental way, ask someone if they are thinking about suicide.
    2. Check that there are no immediate safety concerns or threats to anyone’s lives – act to remove any danger and contact police or emergency services if you need help.
    3. Listen carefully and closely to the person’s responses – and be prepared to spend time and let them talk.
    4. Use a crisis service such as Lifeline telephone crisis line  - phone 13 11 14 – or a crisis chat service – go to
    5. Seek involvement of more continuing help – from family and friends where appropriate, from trusted social networks, the local GP, from mental health professionals, a psychologist or counsellor.

    Raising the issue of suicide will not increase a person’s risk – and will not plant the thought if the person is not suicidal.

    People experiencing suicidal feelings and thoughts will often appreciate another person raising the issue of suicidality – and this may give them the opportunity for disclose about the background issues and the development of their suicidal feelings and thoughts.

    This can be the first step in providing support and help – towards finding ways to address the issues surrounding the experience of being suicidal.

    Most suicidal persons do not wish to die – they wish that the pain that they are experiencing and the seemingly insurmountable difficulties in their lives can be addressed.

  • Damien Haines

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Damien Haines is a registered Clinical Psychologist who brings a warm and empathetic approach to therapy. He emphasises engagement in the world and encourages clients … View Profile

    I could not agree more with the above post. While it may feel awkward discussing their suicidality, by normalising it it will help with increasing understanding. The lack of understanding is something I often hear as an additional reason for suicidal ideation.

  • Want more love and connection in your life? Want to experience lasting positive change? COMPELLING NEW RESEARCH IN SELF-AWARENESSWe can give you new information that … View Profile

    A. R. E. You a Life Saver? ARE you prepared?

    • A Ask
    • R Respond
    • E — Encourage

    A Ask

    • Ask the person if they are contemplating suicide.

    R Respond

    • Respond with kindness, listen non-judgmentally, and recommend options available for people in crisis.

    E — Encourage

    • Encourage the person to seek help.
    • Assess any barriers to help and develop helping strategies to overcome them.

    Listen carefully, reflective listening not reactive, and be curious. Ask questions gently about what, where, how, and when. Explore their feelings and take every complaint seriously.
       Assess how upset the person is and ask specific questions about plans for suicide. Don’t be mislead and leave the individual alone; make the environment as safe as possible.

    When you know the facts about suicide YOU CAN SAVE LIVES!

    ASK direct questions:

    • “Are having thoughts of suicide?”
    • “Do you wish you were dead?”
    • “Have you had thoughts of killing yourself?”
    • “Sometimes, with all this going on in a person’s life, they might have thoughts of giving up. Are you having thoughts of suicide?”

    Don’t hesitate to raise the subject.

    Talking with people about suicide won’t put ideas into their heads. If you’ve observed any of the warning signs, chances are they’re already thinking about it!

    Explore their PMT:

    • PLAN: “Have you thought about how you will do it?”
    • MEANS: “Have you thought about how you will do it, and do you have access to what you need?
    • TIME SET: “Have you thought about when you will do it, and when someone will find you?

    Assess their level of risk:Low RiskModerate Risk High RiskNon-Lethal Means , No Plan, Safety Plan in place, No HistoryPlan with resource,  Family History, Past Attempts , Safety Plan in place   Highly Lethal Plan, Method & Availability, History of Attempts,  No Safety Plan
    RESPOND with kindness:

    Empathise with their feelings. Empathy is being sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another without the person directly communicating these feelings. Show empathy by asking:

    • “Can you describe how you are feeling?”
    • “How would you like me to help you?”

    Take Action!

    Remove any means such as guns, stockpiled pills, ropes, etc.

    • “I am wondering, while we are talking, would you be willing to put the pills, alcohol, gun… in the next room and close the door?”
    • Stay with them until help and support is identified and, where possible, obtained.

    ENCOURAGE the person to seek professional help.

    • What resources do they have in place? Friends, family, colleagues, a therapist?
    • Make referrals to professional assistance Ron Cruickshank Relationship Transformation Center Ph. 0400606321
    • Lifeline 13 11 14
    • Ambulance and Police 000
    • Suicide Call Back 1300 78 99 78
    • Poison Information Centre 13 11 26


    • Give yourself a pat on the back and a big hug for knowing that you ARE prepared and have responded to their call for help! Well done!
    • Talk to someone about your experience, a counsellor will keep your confidentiality and validate your journey. Anxiety is a natural response to being with someone’s deep pain and it helps to debrief.
    • Connect with someone or something you love and revitalise your soul.

    I will help you through….

    © Ronald Cruickshank 2012

  • David Lawson


    We all have times when we need to talk with a person who really listens to us, someone outside our family or social circle - … View Profile

    I agree with previous posts. Simply ask them how things are going and be prepared to hear their pain/hurt/sadness/fear. It will not be easy listening to them but it is most likely the first time someone has let them talk it out without judging them. Don't underestimate how helpful you can be by just sitting with them and lsitening to them pour their heart out.

  • I am a registered psychologist with many years of counselling experience in the field of relationships and fertility issues. In particular my focus is on … View Profile

    If you are concerned about someone it is better to err on the side of caution by asking if things are so bad they might think about doing something to end the pain. If the answer is yes continue asking if they have an idea of what they might do.

    Encourage them to make an appointment with their doctor or  if they want you to do this for them and if they need you to come with them. If they are suicidal but refuse your help you need to make sure that a family member is notified.

    Lifeline is a good resource to phone or the nearest acute care team or you can phone 000.

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