How to approach talking about Suicide
18 August 2021
Casey wants to empower Western Australians to become suicide prevention champions in our community by giving them the tools to approach a someone they are worried about and ask this important question.
It can seem like an uncomfortable word when said out loud.
Uncomfortable because we might not know how to respond if we ask if someone is having thoughts of suicide and the answer is yes. Casey was apprehensive to use the word so directly before starting as a Crisis Supporter at Lifeline WA.
Once she went through the training, Casey soon learnt that “you cannot underestimate the power of listening, validating, and providing a safe space to talk openly about suicide”.
So how can we do this - talk about suicide?
To begin with let’s bust the myth that if we talk or ask about suicide, we could plant the idea in their minds – this is a myth-BUSTED.
In fact, by asking, we show the person that we care, take them seriously, and can hold a safe space for them to talk about their thoughts of suicide.
When asking about suicide we should ask someone directly and with context.
“I have noticed you’re not yourself lately and you have mentioned being overwhelmed, are you having any thoughts of suicide?”
If the response is no, an opportunity has been provided to show you’re someone who is open to talking about suicide.
If the response is yes, it is possible to feel a variety of emotions, this is a normal reaction to what may be a new experience.
What happens next?
Follow these steps:
If you are worried about someone, maybe you’ve noticed a change in someone you know, finding the time to approach and to ask the question “are you thinking about suicide” could save a life.
It is important keep in mind to seek support for yourself if you feel impacted by the conversation or the ongoing support you may provide.
Lastly: Take care of you and your own well-being. You matter. There is support here for you too. You can call 13 11 14 and let us guide through this conversation and any feelings that come up after that conversation.
Toolkit | helping someone at risk of suicide: https://www.lifeline.org.au/media/wyjpzxw5/web_sept_ll-4pp-tool-kit_help-someone-at-risk-of-suicide.pdf
Information | I am worried about someone: https://wa.lifeline.org.au/get-help/i-m-worried-about-someone/
How to ask if ‘are you ok?’: https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask
How to support someone: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-others/what-to-do-if-someone-you-know-is-suicidal
Written by Casey Metcalf