Getting help for someone else

When you are worried about someone you care about, a partner, friend or family member it is sometimes hard to know how to offer them help.  You may have noticed they are feeling hopeless or you may have identified some signs of suicide. For immediate help when life may be in danger, call 000.

Offering help

It can be difficult to ask the hard question 'Are you thinking of suicide?' but you might be the only person who asks. It is important to offer them help, but equally important to look after yourself. 

If you decide to offer help to someone here are some suggestions that might help:

  1. Plan to talk and listen. Plan a time to talk without interruptions. Listen to him or her without judgement and reassure them that you care.
  2. Be direct. Ask 'Are you thinking of suicide?', 'Are you thinking of killing yourself?' or 'Are you thinking of ending your life?'. It is a myth that you put the idea into someone’s head by asking this. It can be hard to ask this question when you are face to face with someone you care about so it would help to practice saying these words so you are prepared when you need to have the conversation. Asking them directly can lead to getting them the help they need.
  3. Be strong. Do not leave the person at risk alone or promise not to tell anyone that they are having suicidal thoughts.
  4. Choose a support person together. Jointly choose an appropriate support person – this might be a doctor or Open Arms counsellor – and offer to make and take them to an appointment.
  5. Look after yourself. Remember to look after yourself and seek help for yourself if needed.
  6. Find out more. Learn more about suicide prevention and how to protect yourself against suicide.

Staying calm

If you may be feeling helpless, distressed, overwhelmed or not sure what to do. Our brains tend to flood in crisis and make it difficult to think clearly. The first thing to do is regain control and then you can think things through.

The Staying Calm video presents a simple exercise to help get your brain back on-line. It won’t solve your problems and may seem trivial at first but try it, as you may find it helps to settle you enough to feel back in charge of your own thoughts.

If you are helping someone else, ask them to watch the video with you. Try to get them started with at least the first step and then encourage them to keep going until the exercise is completed.

See also

  • risk factors

    Signals and risk factors

    There are observable warning signs of a suicidal crisis needing immediate attention and other situations where help is needed.
  • call us 1800 011 046

    Referral to Open Arms

    There are several ways to refer a client to Open Arms for counselling and support.
  • soldier walks down a dirt road

    Audio series - 'Open Conversations'

    Our new audio series presents stories of recovery from the veteran community, featuring people that have accessed support services to improve their lives, and the lives of those around them.