Learn more about

suicide

prevention at beyondblue.org.au/suicide 

Have you noticed that a colleague doesn't quite seem themselves? Do they seem distressed or extremely withdrawn? Are you concerned that they may be at risk of suicide? It can be hard to know how to respond, but there are positive things that you can do to support them.

If you or someone in your workplace is in crisis and you need immediate support, call emergency services (triple zero – 000), contact your doctor or local mental health crisis service, or go to your local hospital emergency department.

Warning signs

While people at risk of suicide may try to hide how they are feeling, they often give warning signs. These can include changes in behaviour, or how they are thinking or feeling. 

Things someone might say include:

  • Feeling trapped: “I can’t see any way out of this mess.”
  • Feeling like a burden: “They’d be better off without me.”
  • Lack of belonging: “I just don’t fit in anywhere.”
  • Hopelessness: “What is the point? Things are never going to get any better.”
  • Guilt: “It’s my fault, I’m to blame.”
  • Escape: “I just can’t take this anymore.”
  • Alone: “I’m on my own… no one cares about me anymore; no one would even notice I was gone.”
  • Feeling damaged: “I’ll never be the same again.”
  • Helplessness: “Nothing I do makes any difference, it’s beyond my control and no one can help me.”

For more information on warning signs, visit the beyondblue website

Behavioural signs to look out for include:

  • previous suicide attempt/s
  • talking about suicide
  • talking about feeling trapped or having unbearable pain
  • agitation, anxiety and/or irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in mood
  • change in appearance

 

  • taking time off work
  • a recent stressful event
  • social withdrawal/feeling alienated
  • seeming preoccupied with internal thoughts or problem
  • putting their affairs in order
  • quitting activities which were previously important
  • showing feelings of sadness, anger, disconnection, hopelessness, loneliness or helplessness.

What to do if you notice any warning signs

  • Avoid telling the person that they are being stupid or trivialising their behaviour.
  • Ask if they are thinking of suicide. Asking the question does not increase the person’s risk but will help you understand how they're feeling.
  • You could start a conversation with something like “You haven’t seemed yourself lately and I’m worried about you," or “I've noticed that you've been doing (X/Y/Z), and I’m wondering how you're going.”
  • Acknowledge your own reactions to the situation. You may feel anxiety or try to dismiss what you're noticing. You might get angry or annoyed that the person is acting withdrawn or irritable.
  • If you feel out of your depth, consider asking the person if you can contact someone else who could help. You could ask a work colleague or manager who has been trained in suicide first aid, or go with the person to call a crisis line such as Lifeline – 13 11 14.
  • If the situation is urgent and you’re concerned that the person is in immediate danger, don't leave them alone, unless you are concerned for your own safety. Call the person’s doctor, mental health crisis service or dial 000 and say that the person’s life is at risk.

For more information on what to do in a crisis situation, visit the beyondblue website.

Narelle came close to taking her own life in 2008. She shares some of the changes in mood and behaviour that could suggest a colleague is considering suicide.

Additional support

  • Lifeline 
    13 11 14
    Access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services, telephone and chat services.
  • Suicide Call Back Service
    1300 659 467
    Free, nationwide telephone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide.
  • Conversations Matter
    Practical online resource to support safe and effective community discussions about suicide.