People tell me they are considering suicide or have attempted suicide a lot more often that I would like. Not necessarily because it makes me uncomfortable or triggers my own feelings and memories around it, but just that far too many people get to that dark, horrible place where it seems like the only viable option.
And since I started as an ambassador for Lifeline and Lifeline Hunter Central Coast, other people have asked me what they should do if they are worried about one of their friends or family, or if someone they know speaks to them about their suicidal thinking.
It’s confronting, and sad. But you can actually play a very big role in saving (and improving) someone’s life.
The first thing to know, as the World Health Organisation report ‘Preventing Suicide’ points out, is that just asking someone if they are suicidal will not tip them over the edge, but provide a safe starting point for a solution. So many of us are terrified to even have the conversation, that we might be missing an opportunity to catch something early on. I often start with the simple question, “are you safe right now”?
There isn’t really a long list of things to do after that in my opinion. If the person is in Australia, I suggest that they ring Lifeline on 13 11 14, or use the online chat facility at here.
If they are outside of Australia, I refer them to the SOS page on my website, or suggest that they seek out help immediately. Even if they are just starting to have some dark thoughts, it’s never too early to start talking about this stuff.
And that’s it. I don’t counsel anyone, or have a beer with them, or anything else like that. I refer them to organised and professional help. Those emergency helplines have the very best and appropriate organisations and professionals to refer people to, so I trust them to help the person who has reached out to me.
Please remember, as the crew from Livin say, #itaintweaktospeak. Get people talking. Give them the numbers they need. Be kind.