This article discusses suicide. If you feel like you’re going to act on suicidal thoughts, call 000 if you live in Australia. A number of crisis support services are also there for you – have a look at our urgent help page.
Having a friend who’s suicidal can be pretty confronting. It can feel daunting, but there are things you can do to help. If you’re worried that your friend is in immediate danger, there are services you can call. Be sure to look after yourself as well and talk to someone who can help you if it all feels too much.
This can help if:
- you’re worried about your friend
- you think your friend is suicidal
- you’re not sure what to do.
What you can do right now
If you need help now, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If your friend is in immediate danger, call 000. For more information, read our urgent help section.
How can I be sure they need my help?
If your friend tells you they’re feeling suicidal, you’ve got to take it seriously. Hearing them say this might make you feel overwhelmed or sick with worry, especially if they’re upset or angry. However, if someone talks about wanting to commit suicide, the positive thing is that they’re not keeping it to themselves, which means they’re reaching out for help.
Things you can do
Pick your moment
Timing is everything when talking to someone about sensitive stuff. If possible, and if your friend is not in immediate danger, choose a time when you're both relaxed. If you're not sure what to say, you might try saying: 'I'm worried about you. You told me the other day you felt like ending your life. Do you still feel that way?'
Don't keep it a secret
So, your friend has asked you not to tell anyone? They may be frightened of what might happen if someone else knows. It’s very important that you do tell someone, even if you’ve promised not to. Your friend might get mad at you – but for you, as their friend, it’s more important that you’ve kept them alive and well.
The situation puts a lot of pressure on you, so the best thing to do is to talk to a parent, counsellor, teacher or doctor.
Encourage your friend to seek help
Your friend needs to seek help from a parent or a teacher, or talk to a counsellor, psychologist, youth worker, doctor, or one of the helplines mentioned above. Although it might seem hard for them, these people are trained to help others move to a better, happier mindset.
Be there for them
It’s probably really scary for your friend to realise they need help. Offer to go with them when they speak to someone about what’s going on. Just knowing that somebody cares about them can be reassuring, because they may feel very alone and unloved.
Ask them to delay their decision
While your friend may feel like they have to act now, you can encourage them to hold off on making that decision. Suggest that they keep a list of positive things they can do to distract themselves. Remind your friend that thoughts about taking their life are just that, thoughts, and it doesn’t mean they have to act on them. They might find that their suicidal thoughts go away over time.
Look after yourself
When you’re worried about a friend, you might feel stressed or overwhelmed and forget to look after yourself. Speak to someone you trust, such as a family member, friend or counsellor, and make sure you spend some time doing things you enjoy. You may want to play sport, hang out with other friends, listen to music, or go for a walk.
Remember that, even though you can offer support – and that’s really kind and caring of you – you’re not responsible for your mate’s actions or behaviour. If they’re unwilling to help themselves, it’s not your fault and you can’t control what they decide to do.
What can I do now?
- Organise to do something your mate enjoys, such as going for a hike or watching a movie.
- Talk to someone who can help, such as a teacher, parent or doctor.
- Encourage your mate to call a helpline if they’re in distress.
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