If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

Supporting Men

Talking About Suicide

Some men may have passing thoughts of suicide while others can find themselves thinking about suicide frequently. If this is you, a family member or a mate, it’s time to talk to someone you trust and tell them how you’re feeling. You don’t have to feel this way, help is available.

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

It can be hard to tell when someone’s at risk of suicide. There are a few things you can look out for that might give you an idea when someone’s doing it tough:

Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
“No one can help me” or “There is nothing that can solve this”

Feelings of shame, guilt or burden
“They would be better off without me”

Dramatic changes in personality or behavior
eg. anger, calmness, apathy, irrational behavior, recklessness

Dramatic changes in appearance
lack of personal hygiene, extreme weight loss or gain

Changes in sleeping or eating habits

Changes in use of alcohol or other drugs

Avoiding social situations

Severe drop in performance or functioning

Talking or “joking about death”
“I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up” or “I don’t want to be here anymore”

Putting affairs in order, giving away possessions or saying goodbye

Disinterest in the future

Communication of suicide intent

It can be hard to talk about, but it is important to ask directly and listen to his answers.

People who are experiencing suicidal thoughts are often hesitant to bring it up themselves but are likely to feel relieved to be able to talk about it and express how they’re feeling.

If you are concerned that he might be at risk of suicide, the best thing to do is ask the question “Are you thinking of taking your own life?” This can be difficult, but research has shown that asking this question directly is safe and won’t put the idea into somebody’s head.

If he is suicidal, he is likely to feel relieved to have someone ask him and be able to talk about how he is feeling.

  • Be aware of your own reactions, try not to panic, try to listen without judgement and don’t rush the conversation. Let the person speak and really listen to what they are saying.
  • Speak in a calm and reassuring voice.
  • Acknowledge his feelings and experiences, for example “This must be a tough time for you. Have you had these thoughts for long?”
  • Remind him that help is available and encourage him to take action and accept help now, “There is help available, what can we do to keep you safe?”
  • Ask “Have you got a plan?” and “Do you have what you would need to carry out your plan?” This will determine how quickly you will need to find help.

If he has a plan and the means to carry out that plan, it’s important to find help straight away.

If you feel comfortable, you could say “We really need to get some help for you. We can’t let this keep going the way it is. We can ring 000 for an ambo, or we can go to hospital ED, or we can ring 1800 011 511 (the NSW Mental Health Line) to get their advice. Which one do you prefer?”

Doing nothing isn’t an option, it’s important to take action to keep the person safe, but it’s also important to be aware of your own safety as well. If you are feeling unsafe, remove yourself from the situation and call 000 immediately.

If he doesn’t have a plan, or if you are unsure of what to do, call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 for advice.

If you find you’re struggling to have the conversation, enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend or phone a help line such as Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Lifeline 13 11 14 to talk it through.

After having this conversation, it is common to feel shaken and exhausted. Make sure that you look after yourself, talk through things confidentially with someone you trust, phone a helpline such as Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Lifeline 13 11 14, or check out our information on finding professional help.