How to talk about suicide

If you are overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, anger or pain you may want to escape, and thoughts of suicide can start to surface. This can be an isolating experience but know that you are not alone and help is available. It is vital to reach out and talk with someone you trust if this is happening to you. While it may seem hard to open up, talking to the right person can help a lot with how you are feeling.

Who can you talk to about suicide?

Talking about suicide with someone 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. These are common thoughts for people who are struggling with thoughts of suicide but know that with the right person, these worries will not be an issue.

It’s essential to choose someone you feel comfortable with and can trust. This person may be a close friend, family member, your GP, or a mental health professional. The key is to find someone who will listen without judgment and provide the support you need.

The counsellors at SuicideLine Victoria are available 24/7 by phone or webchat for free support, if you aren’t sure where to start.


How do I start the conversation?

It’s natural to feel nervous or unsure about how to begin discussing your struggles. Keep in mind that the person you’re talking to cares about you and wants to help. You can start by talking about what’s upsetting you. Let them know how you’ve been struggling and what you’re feeling. This is a difficult conversation to start, so take your time so you are comfortable and ready. You may even like to write a few things down first if that would help you remember.

Here are some ideas to get you started or you can use your own words:

  • “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.”
  • “I have been struggling with thoughts of suicide recently and I was hoping we could talk about it?”


Tips to communicate effectively

  • Choose a time and place where you feel comfortable and won’t be interrupted.
  • Be honest about your emotions and thoughts. The more open you are, the better the person can understand your situation and offer support.
  • Remember that it’s okay to feel emotional during the conversation. Allow yourself to express your feelings.
  • Be patient with yourself and the person you’re talking to. It might take time for them to process the information and offer guidance.


How to talk about suicide with a health professional

Telling a health care professional about suicidal thoughts is a good step towards feeling better. They provide a safe, confidential space for you to share openly, offer practical advice and strategies to manage your thoughts and feelings, and connect you with other relevant services. Health professionals will also be able to help guide the conversation if you aren’t sure what to say next.

Many people start by speaking with their GP. You can also talk to a psychologist or counsellor. You can start the conversation in a similar way to how you would with a friend or family member using the tips in the above section.

Remember, you can talk to a counsellor on a helpline such as SuicideLine Victoria by calling 1300 651 251. SuicideLine Victoria 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.

When talking suicide with a professional, 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.

Talking about suicide is difficult, but it is important to get support for yourself at this time. To find out more see our Get help with professional support page for information on professional support options, and our Help when feeling overwhelmed and suicidal page for tips on ways you can manage these difficult feelings.


How can talking to someone about it help?

Opening up and telling someone you have been experiencing thoughts of suicide is an important first step towards feeling better. If you keep it to yourself and not seek help, things may build up inside you and start to worsen. Letting someone you trust know what’s going on can help keep you safe and ensure someone is there to support and look out for you. Being open and honest about what you are going through can help to relief the pressure.

If the person you are talking to isn’t sure what steps to take next, you may want to ask them to help build a safety plan with you or come with you to talk to a professional. Having a support person while you take these key steps can be really helpful.


What to do 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

For further information and services please visit our Get help with professional support page.

Get help now


Don’t let it build up. SuicideLine Victoria is a free 24/7 telephone and online counselling service offering professional support to people who are concerned about their emotional and mental health. Call 1300 651 251. If it is an emergency, call 000.

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