Learn more about

suicide

prevention at beyondblue.org.au/suicide 

Have you noticed that a workmate doesn't seem themselves? Do they seem distressed or withdrawn? Are you worried they may be thinking about suicide? It can be hard to know what to do, but there are things you can do to support them.

If you or someone in your workplace needs immediate support, call 000, contact your GP, local area mental health crisis assessment team, or go to your local 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're thinking or feeling. 

Things someone might feel and say:

  • 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 don’t fit in anywhere”.
  • Hopelessness: “What's the point? Things are never going to get any better”.
  • Guilt: “It’s my fault”.
  • Escape: “I just can’t take this any more”.
  • Alone: “No-one cares about me any more; no-one would even notice I was gone”.
  • Feeling damaged: “I’ll never be the same again”.
  • Helplessness: “Nothing I do makes any difference, 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 unbearable pain
  • agitation, anxiety and / or irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • changes in mood
  • changes in appearance

 

  • taking an unusual amount of time off work
  • a recent stressful event
  • social withdrawal
  • preoccupation with internal thoughts or problems
  • putting their affairs in order
  • quitting activities that were previously important
  • showing feelings of sadness, anger, disconnection, hopelessness, loneliness or helplessness.

What to do if you notice any warning signs

  • Avoid trivialising their behaviour or telling the person that they're being stupid.

  • Ask if they're thinking of suicide. Asking the question doesn't 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 anxious or try to dismiss what you've noticed. 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 colleague or manager who has been trained in mental health first aid, or sit with the person while they 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're concerned for your own safety. Call the person's GP, local area mental health crisis assessment team, or call 000 and tell them 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 might suggest a workmate 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.