Talking about suicide

Talking about suicide with someone can be very difficult. However, if you choose the right person, then talking with them about how you are feeling will usually help.

You may be worried that you will be told to stop overreacting or that such thoughts are a sign of weakness. You might feel embarrassed or ashamed. You might feel that it is easier to keep it to yourself rather than taking the risk of telling someone.


Talking about suicide: Who can I talk to?

It is important to choose someone who you can trust and who you can be honest with. It can 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 the Suicide Call Back Service, which is free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Talking about suicide: What do I say?

Be clear and honest with them about all of the things that are troubling you, including your suicidal thoughts and feelings. Begin by talking to someone about what’s stressing or upsetting you, let them know how you’ve been struggling and how you’re feeling. Listed below are some ideas to get you started and you can adapt these or use your own words. This is a difficult conversation to start so take your time so you are comfortable and ready.

  • “I have been having a difficult time lately, I am wondering if we can talk about it.”
  • “I am feeling really upset and worried about my thoughts at the moment”
  • “Things have felt a bit out of control recently and I am feeling really upset, I need to talk about it.”


Talking about suicide: Talking with a professional

When talking about your thoughts about wanting to end your life or hurt yourself to a health professional, it is important to let them know whether you have:

  • been thinking more often or in more detail about how you would end your life 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 end your life or hurt yourself
  • tried to hurt yourself or end your life before, and if so, how you did it
  • made a definite decision to end your life or hurt yourself.

Telling a health professional this information is an important part of making sure you get the right support to help you through these stressful times.

Some examples of how you might talk about how you are feeling and the thoughts you are having are:

  • “I have had thoughts of ending my life and I have 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 ending my life are getting too much for me and I am worried that I am going to do it.”

Talking about suicide is hard, but it is important to get support for yourself at this difficult time.


Accessing professional support

Feeling suicidal can be an overwhelming and painful experience, but it is not something you have to bear alone. Asking for help is an important step towards getting the support you need.

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.

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.

There are a number of services and professionals available to help you through this difficult time. You may wish to speak to someone over the phone, or prefer to seek help face to face. Whichever you choose, it’s important that you are as honest about your situation and the way you’re feeling as possible, so you can get the support you need. Talking to someone about such a painful issue can be difficult, so you may want to check out our How to talk about suicide page for information and tips on how to start a conversation.


The Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 provides immediate support to anyone feeling suicidal.

In addition, they can provide ongoing support with up to six 50 minute telephone counselling sessions that will provide you with longer term support. The Suicide Call Back Service also offers online counselling.