Supporting someone to get help

Looking after someone who is suicidal can be a difficult and overwhelming experience, but you do not need to do it alone. After you've talked to them about how they're feeling, the next step is to support them to get help to deal with these feelings and keep them safe. 

 

IN AN EMERGENCY

If the person is in immediate danger, or you are concerned for their safety: 

 

  • Call 000 and request an ambulance. Stay on the line, speak clearly, and be ready to answer the operator's questions
  • Take the person to your local hospital's emergency department
  • Call your local Public Emergency Mental Health Service

 

Each of these emergency services teams are specially trained to support people in crisis, including people feeling suicidal, and are able to keep the person safe. 

There are a number of services and professionals available to help your loved one through this overwhelming time. Depending on what is going on for the person and their personal preferences, they may wish to speak to someone over the phone, or prefer to seek help face to face. Whichever they choose, it's important that they are as honest as possible about their situation and the way they're feeling, so they can get the right help. 

 

If they are reluctant to seek help

  • Be clear that you are unable to provide sufficient support on your own and you need to bring in extra support from a professional.
  • Remind them that their safety is the ultimate priority, and professional support will help keep them safe. 
  • Normalise the idea of seeking help as much as possible.
  • If they're reluctant to see someone face to face, online counselling can be a non-threatening way to get support. The Suicide Call Back Service offers online counselling to people at risk of suicide. 
  • If you are comfortable, offer to accompany them to their first appointment to support them.
  • It may also help to let your loved one know that accessing professional support will help both of you.

 

The following is a list of support options available to help someone who is suicidal:

 

Telephone helplines

There are a number of telephone counselling and crisis helplines available to provide support and referrals to people who are feeling suicidal. Telephone helplines allow people access to immediate support, without having to wait for an appointment or travel to a medical centre. Such services are particularly useful for people in rural or remote areas, or for when they can't access their regular healthcare provider.

 

Suicide Call Back Service "1300 659 467"

The Suicide Call Back Service is a 24-hour service provides immediate support to anyone feeling suicidal. In addition, they can provide ongoing support through up to six 50 minute telephone counselling sessions that will provide longer term support.

 

Lifeline "13 11 14"

Lifeline is a national 24-hour telephone helpline offering support to anyone in crisis. 

 

General Practitioners (GPs)

A GP is a good first contact for concerns about mental and emotional health. Encourage your loved one to speak as openly and honestly as possible to their GP, as this will ensure the most appropriate referral is provided. This may involve psychological (counselling) or medical treatment. Additionally, GPs have a good knowledge of local services, and will be able to refer to other professionals if necessary. 

 

How to access a GP:

If the person already has a regular GP and is feeling suicidal, they can contact their GP and explain it is an emergency. Encourage your loved one to see the GP as soon as possible. It is a good idea to book a longer appointment to ensure there is plenty of time to discuss their circumstances. 

 

Mental health services

Your loved one may benefit from accessing some of the services available through their local mental health team. The team will consist of a range of mental health professionals who are trained to support people in crisis, including people who are feeling suicidal. 

 

How to access mental health services:

Each area in Australia has its own Area Health Service, consisting of a number of different local teams and services. We have a list of services by area, available through the Emergency section of this website.

 

Other health professionals

There are other health professionals who are able to assist someone who is feeling suicidal. Depending on their role and area of expertise, they may be able to provide the person with various types of psychological therapy or refer them on to other services. If your loved one is already seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor, therapist or other professional, encourage them to make contact to arrange an appointment to see them as soon as possible, explaining that it is an emergency. 

 

If you would like to find a professional or service in your area, you can search JIGSAW. JIGSAW is an Australia-wide database of community services, and offers a geographical search facility. It has a comprehensive listing of a wide range of services, specialising in the areas of suicide prevention and mental health and wellbeing.

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