Healthy living

Understanding suicide

What is suicide?

Suicide is a major cause of death in Australia. It is a result of a range of complex issues, which include personal, emotional, social and medical issues. Suicide is a tragic loss of life that causes great sadness and emotional upheaval among family, friends and peers as they struggle to understand why.

Getting support and information is crucial, particularly if you or someone you care about is at risk of harm.

Common warning signs

There are some common warning signs that a person who is contemplating suicide might show, including:

  • overwhelming emotional pain: feelings that seem impossible to deal with
  • hopelessness: the feeling that things will never get better
  • powerlessness: the feeling that the emotional pain will not stop or go away
  • feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, or 'no one cares'
  • sudden shifts and changes in behaviour: more sad or withdrawn, increased tiredness or angry outbursts
  • fear of losing control, harming yourself or others.

It is important to remember that it is normal for people to occasionally experience some of these symptoms. However, if the problems are getting in the way of living life, or last for a prolonged time, it is important to talk to someone.

Usually when someone is considering hurting themselves, they might think that suicide is a solution to their problems and pain. If you are someone who is thinking of suicide, or you know someone who is thinking of suicide, help is available.

More information

Visit the Mental Health Commission (external site) for more information on mental health issues and mental illness.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)
    Metro callers 1300 55 788
    Peel 1800 676 822
  • RuralLink
    Rural and remote areas 1800 552 002


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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