New beyondblue research tackles signs of suicide

A new research from beyondblue has found that while few people express their suicidal thoughts directly to others, they often show signs through changes in their behaviour.

The study found that while family, workmates, and friends want to help people contemplating suicide, they are unsure how to identify and respond to the warning signs.

The research also recommended simple and safe steps that friends, families, and workmates can take to identify and support someone at risk.

The recommendations include:

  • Asking the person how they are feeling and explain changes you have noticed in their behaviour
  • Listening without judgement and without trying to advise them how to ‘fix’ their situation;
  • Asking direct questions about whether the person is thinking of suicide and has a plan;
  • Showing support and suggesting they seek help from GP or a mental health professional

“You don’t need to be an expert,” said beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman. “There are simple things every one of us can do and say that can reduce suicide.

“It’s natural for family, friends, and workmates to worry about saying or doing the right thing if someone is feeling suicidal.

“But people who have thought about suicide told us through the research that having someone listen to them and show care and support was the most important thing to them – and you don’t need to be a health professional to do that.

“And you can’t put the idea of suicide in somebody’s mind – the research supports that.

“Asking how someone is feeling and asking directly about suicide could be the first step to help someone reconnect with living, and get them the support they need.”

Ms. Harman said those considering suicide usually have changes in their behaviours.

“People consider suicide when they have no hope for life,” she said. “While they may not openly discuss suicide, there may be changes in the way they act or talk about life that raises alarm bells.”

Ms. Harman stressed the importance of taking suicide indicators seriously.

“It’s important that we and our sector colleagues use this research and continue to work with the community to ensure people have access to information, training, and support so they can act with confidence,” she said.

Stressful working conditions is a major risk factor for mental health problems and suicide among Australian workers. Issues like relationship breakdown, alcoholism, workplace bullying and one’s nature of work, coupled with poor job security and fluctuating incomes are just some of the common reasons why people fall into depression.

More information about identifying and responding to warning signs of suicide is available on beyondblue.

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