Suicidal thoughts, stigma, support and breaking the silence

Suicidal thoughts: don’t be alone

 Who is at risk of suicide?

Suicidal thoughts are common. “SUICIDE IS PART OF THE HUMAN CONDITION: ANYONE COULD FIND THEMSELVES WITH THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE”.  Suicide has been noted in almost every culture and era. However, most people who think about suicide never act on the idea. Suicide is rarely a person’s preferred choice. [Suicide Intervention Handbook. LivingWorks Education Inc. 2004].


suicidal thoughts

suicidal thoughts






*CALL LIFELINE  13 11 14  (available 24 hours, 7 days a week).




suicidal thoughts

If you are having suicidal thoughts this an extremely serious matter. Being alone with your suicidal thoughts is known to increase the risk of harm or death. You are most at risk if you feel completely alone with no connections to any friends, family members, groups, community or spiritual entity (LivingWorks Education Inc., 2004).

Pain and desperation can lead you to suicide. If you are suffering from intense emotional pain you may find it too hard to bear and do anything to stop it, whether for a short time or forever. People like you suffering this level of pain are desperate for relief. Such desperation can lead to suicide. You may be depressed, feel overwhelmed, helpless and hopeless. People like you may feel trapped and think there is no other option. You might feel burdensome.

suicidal thoughts

IT IS BEST TO ASSUME THAT SOMEONE WHO HAS SUICIDAL THOUGHTS IS AT RISK. If a person is asked if they are having suicidal thoughts and the answer is “yes”, the situation is serious and demands a suicide intervention (LivingWorks Education Inc. 2004).

Suicide prevention and intervention

suicidal thoughts

SANE Australia and Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention is integral to all of SANE Australia’s work. See SANE Australia People who attempt suicide provide valuable lessons for suicide prevention. A research study by SANE Australia and the University of New England explores their experiences and what we can learn from them. To learn more visit:…

In this report “Lessons for Life: The experiences of people who attempt suicide” it is noted that developing a positive and empathetic relationship with a health professional was a key factor in recovery from a suicide attempt.


Guide to staying alive

SANE Australia have a guide called “Guide to Staying Alive”. See:

SANE Australia Helpline   1800 18 7263

Recognizing warning signs and having a support network of people in place can help avoid a crisis situation. Preparing a crisis plan with someone you trust is helpful. This might, for example, include making a list of names  and phone numbers to call if you feel at risk. It could include:

  • your local mental health crisis team
  • a doctor or other health professional
  • a family member or friend you’ve agreed to contact if you become suicidal
  • relevant crisis helplines (see below)

suicidal thoughts

suicidal thoughts


See the list of warning signs e.g

*Sleeping problems

*Thinking or talking about death as an “escape” or “relief” from feeling distressed

*Feeling “trapped”…that there is no way out from the feelings of distress that you have

*Talking about the future in negative or hopeless term


Finding support

If you become suicidal keeping in touch with other people, and with treatment and support services is very important to help you get through this danger period. Someone experiencing suicidal thoughts often feel isolated and alone and that nobody understands how they are feeling.

A support network can include medical care (doctors, psychiatrists and mental health workers), psychotherapy (psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists) and community support services. Your informal network of family, friends or others you know who can be supportive is also very important.


Suicide, Stigma and Silence 

Suicide is still a relatively taboo topic with denial, silence and avoidance common. Community education is required to achieve a positive shift in attitude. The SANE research report notes that stigma and judgemental attitudes were found to be pervasive and came from both professionals and non-professionals; this was a large barrier to recovery.

Having suicidal thoughts is not something to be ashamed of. It is  experienced by many people with a mental illness, and talking about it does not increase the risk of someone taking their own life.



If you are having suicidal thoughts:

CALL LIFELINE  13 11 14  (available 24 hours, 7 days a week).

Contact The SANE Help Centre on 1800 18 SANE (7263) for referral to mental health assistance in your area.


  • Lifeline
    13 11 14 – 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. To find local services in your area useLifeline’s Service Finder.
  • Suicide Call Back Service
    1300 659 467 – 24/7 telephone crisis support for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved, as well as online resources and information
  • Kids Helpline
    1800 55 1800 –  24/7 telephone counselling for young people 5-25 years
  • MensLine Australia
    1300 78 99 78 – 24/7 telephone and online support, information and referral service for men
  • beyondblue
    1300 22 4636 – 24/7 telephone support service and online chat 4pm – 10pm (AEST)