What to do if you're thinking about how to commit suicide

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.

If you’re thinking about ways to end your life, you must be feeling completely overwhelmed and hopeless right now. Remember there are things you can do to manage these thoughts, you can start by reading the tips below. And know that there’s always someone you can talk to.

This can help if:

  • you can’t think of any other solution to your problems

  • you’re feeling overwhelmed with negative and suicidal thoughts

  • you’re seriously thinking about how to commit suicide

  • you want to know how to help someone who is suicidal.

Man with red scarf

Postpone any decision to end your life

When suicidal thoughts are strong, it may feel like you have to act on your thoughts immediately. It’s really important to postpone the decision to end your life and to remind yourself that these thoughts will pass.

Many people report that by putting off the decision to die, they’re able to get the support they need. Studies have shown that almost all people who have experienced suicidal thoughts have eventually been able to recover from them and feel healthy again. Many of these people, who were able to postpone their decision to die, say that doing this was the best thing they ever did.

Ways to distract yourself from suicidal thoughts

Keep a list of things you can do to distract yourself. This might include:

  • watching television

  • playing sport

  • going to the movies

  • ringing a friend

  • going for a walk or a run

  • reading a book

  • listening to music.

Tell someone you're feeling suicidal

If you're considering suicide, talking to someone you trust can help you to see other ways of solving or thinking about overwhelming problems or feelings. It can also help to remind you that people care about you, and that they want you to be safe. It can help you to realise what’s important to you and clarify your reasons for living. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Think of people you could have an open and honest conversation with. You could chat to a family member, friend, teacher, mental health professional, or any person that you feel comfortable talking to. Helplines like Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) and 13YARN (13 92 76; for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also there for you.

  2. Clearly explain how you’re feeling. If you’re experiencing feelings of suicide, it’s important that the person clearly understands how you’re feeling so that they can help you. It can be uncomfortable to bring up, but it will help you stay safe in the long term. If you find it hard to talk about how you’re feeling, try writing something down for the other person to read.

  3. Continue the conversation. Now that you’ve brought this up, you’ve got someone you can come back to when you’re not feeling well. If the first person you told wasn’t a great person to talk to, it could be helpful to talk to someone else. Sometimes it can take some time to find someone who you feel comfortable with and who is a good listener. It may feel hard, but don't give up!

For more tips, check our article on how to talk to someone if you’re thinking about suicide.

Call a suicide helpline

If you feel like there is no one you can turn to, call a crisis helpline. They’re available 24/7 to listen and offer help.

Make your environment safe

Here are a few ways to make sure you’ve got a safe environment for now:

  • If you’ve been making serious plans for how to end your life, let someone know the details of these plans.

  • Get rid of anything you’ve been thinking about using to harm yourself and avoid going to places where you’ve considered killing yourself.

  • Don’t use any alcohol or drugs, and remove these from your home – they can cloud your judgement and make you feel worse.

  • Make time for things in your life that make you feel good.

Think about getting help from a professional

If you’ve been contemplating suicide, one of the most helpful things you can do is to see a mental health professional. Not only are mental health professionals trained in the best strategies to help you recover, but they have years of experience helping people who have been in your situation.

Mental health professionals who can support those with suicidal thoughts

Here are a few examples of mental health professionals who are experienced in supporting those dealing with thoughts of suicide:

If you’d like to see a psychologist, pay a visit to your GP and ask to make a mental health plan.

a woman and teenager stand in a kitchen talking

Amy’s story: the importance of finding someone to talk to

The truth is, almost all people who experience suicidal thoughts eventually feel like life is worth living again.

In high school, Amy began to lose her connections to friends and family as her depression started to play a bigger and bigger role in her life. She felt completely helpless, and she started developing thoughts of suicide.

But thankfully, everything changed for Amy when she was finally able to talk to someone who understood her.

‘One day at the hairdresser’s, I picked up a business card for a counsellor. I called her a few days later. I was so scared, but she became a huge support.’

‘For once I felt like it was okay to feel how I felt, and that someone accepted me for who I was and didn't dismiss me as just a teenager with a bad case of angst.’

Read more about Amy’s story here.

What can I do now?

  • Call a crisis support line to talk about how you’re feeling.

  • Download the BeyondNow app and develop a safety plan.

  • Postpone any decision to end your life for 24 hours, and find someone to talk to.

  • Watch a video about what will happen when you call a helpline.