Everyone in the workplace should learn about the warning signs for suicide and how to spot if a workmate could be at risk. If you're concerned about someone at work, start by asking if they're OK. Offer to go with them to speak to a manager, or to drive them to see a health professional if they need it.

 

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.

 

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.

 


 

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 to look out for

  • Things someone might say include:

  • Behavioural signs to look out for include:

 

For more information on warning signs, visit the beyondblue website

 


 

What to do

What to do if you notice any warning signs:

  • Avoid telling the person that they are being stupid; how this would hurt their family and friends, trivialising their behaviour as attention-seeking; or, telling them what they've got to live for.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Acknowledge your own reactions to the situation. You may feel anxious 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 You might get angry or annoyed that the person is acting withdrawn or irritable.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.

 


 

Supporting someone returning to work after a suicide attempt 

Someone returning to work after a suicide attempt is likely to feel isolated and alone. Any genuine care and concern that you can offer could make a real difference, helping them feel connected.

People who have attempted suicide may or may not want to talk to their workmates about what has happened straight away, if at all. If not, it is important to respect their choice, but you can still make it clear you're there for them if they do want to talk about it.

 

Support tips

  • Things to remember

 


 

Tips on having the conversation

Kev and Shane share some tips on having a conversation with someone who has attempted suicide or is having suicidal thoughts, including how colleagues supported them at work.

 

 


 

Supporting others after a workmates suicide

The suicide of a colleague can have a profound emotional effect in the workplace, and it's important for you and your co-workers to support each other. Some people may struggle with guilt and unanswered questions about what happened and what more they could have done to help.

Consider talking with a counsellor to help you cope with the suicide. Your employer is likely to provide counselling through your company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If not, speak to your GP to get a referral or call the beyondblue Support Service for information about mental health professionals in your local area.

 

 


 

Supporting someone bereaved by suicide

The loss of a loved one by suicide is often shocking, painful and unexpected. The stigma surrounding suicide can make it harder to talk about, and the bereaved person may feel like they're being judged. There are a number of things you can do to support a colleague bereaved by suicide.

beyondblue has more information on how to support someone bereaved by suicide.

For more information on how to talk to someone bereaved by suicide, visit Conversations Matter.

 

Support guidelines

  • Do

  • Don't

  • What should I say?

 

How can I help?

In this series of videos, people share their experience of losing a loved one, and how their colleagues and managers supported them.

 

Emma shares some of the ways colleagues looked out for her, after her teenage son took his own life.

Tiana talks about going back to work following her best friend's suicide, as well as some tips for providing support.

 
​Leigh returned to work soon after his dad took his own life. He reflects on what employers can do to help someone bereaved by suicide.
​Courtney talks about how her HR manager supported her after losing her brother to suicide. Checking in and having a conversation can make a huge difference to the person grieving, helping them feel connected and supported.

 


 

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.
  • BeyondNow
    A suicide safety planning app that allows people experiencing suicidal thoughts to create a personalised plan and help them stay safe.

 

Suicide prevention training and resources

  • LivingWorks Australia
    Suicide awareness training programs to improve understanding and help people intervene to support a colleague at risk.
  • Mental Health First Aid
    Courses teach mental health first aid strategies to members of the public. The training equips people to support someone developing a mental health problem, or experiencing a mental health-related crisis, until appropriate professional treatment is received or the crisis resolved.
  • Supporting someone in the workplace at risk of suicide fact sheet (PDF, 4pg, 346KB)
    This beyondblue resource provides guidance for managers on supporting a direct report, including their return to work after a suicide attempt.
  • Managing bereavement, grief and loss
    This e-learning module by SuperFriend equips employees and employers with the skills and confidence to support themselves and workmates experiencing loss

Suicide prevention - information for managers