Recognise the Signs

It is distressing to realise that someone close to you may be considering taking their own life. It is often difficult to know what to say or what to do. People need to know that it is OK to Talk. Recognising the warning signs is one way that you can support someone who you are concerned about.

Below are some suggested signs that you might look out for in someone you know who may be at risk:

  • Have you noticed any changes in their behaviour? For instance have they began giving away precious objects;
  • Has the person begun to withdraw? To they make excuses not to go out with friends and family like they have in the past?
  • Has the person you are concerned about stopped engaging in the activities that they usually enjoy?

Why do people take their own life?

There are no simple explanations as to why people take their own life and often the reasons are not clear to others. A person’sdesire to take their own life may be driven by a number of factors. It is often related to a desire to escape intolerable emotionalor physical pain or a sense of hopelessness.

There are a number of factors that are known to increase a person’s risk (risk factors):

  • Poor physical or mental health;
  • A history of deliberate self-harm;
  • Social or financial problems;
  • Discrimination;
  • Low educational achievement;
  • Legal problems;
  • Imprisonment;
  • Lack of parental bonding;
  • Family violence or disharmony;
  • Lack of friends;
  • Experiences of bullying;
  • Experiences of harassment;
  • Experiences of abuse; and
  • Social isolation.

There are also some things that may reduce the possibility that an individual or group of individual’s will become suicidal(protective factors):

  • Good physical and mental health;
  • Economic security;
  • Self-esteem;
  • A spiritual or religious belief;
  • A personal sense of meaning or purpose to life;
  • Personal resilience and problem-solving skills;
  • Connectedness to family and school;
  • Responsibility for children;
  • Functional family communication patterns;
  • The presence of a significant other person in an individual’s life;
  • Community and social integration; and
  • Non-stigmatised community attitudes to mental illness.


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Page last updated on: 17 Oct 2018