Short-term help if you're suicidal

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Practical things you can do in the moment to feel better

If you or someone you care about is at risk of dying by suicide, call emergency services right away on 000. If you’re experiencing a suicidal crisis and you need somebody to talk to, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Create a suicide safety plan

A suicide safety plan is a document containing a list of things you can do when you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, feelings, and urges. The purpose of a safety plan is to give you some tools and ideas to help you cope and get help when you need it. It includes information about:

  • Your personal warning signs, which helps create awareness for you and your loved ones about what it looks like when you’re experiencing an emotional crisis and need help
  • Information about making your environment safe, such as getting rid of anything you could use to harm yourself
  • Reminders of your personal reasons for living
  • Activities to help ease your emotional pain
  • A list of safe places you can go to if needed
  • A list of people you trust and can talk to
  • Emergency contact details.

For more information and to create a safety plan, click here.

It’s a good idea to ask a trusted friend, relative, or psychologist to help you come up with a suicide safety plan. They can also keep a copy of your safety plan so there’s someone to look out for you when you’re emotionally distressed.

Identify coping strategies that work for you

Suicidal thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are often a response to feeling like you can’t cope. You may feel that you can’t overcome the emotional pain you’re experiencing, or that there are no solutions to your problems.

Creating healthy ways to manage intense emotions can help you cope better, and avoid risk of suicide. Coping strategies vary from person to person so it's important to try different approaches and see what works for you.

Below are some coping strategies you can try, depending on whether you’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, feelings, or behaviours:

For suicidal thoughts

  • Be kind to yourself
  • Challenge your thoughts
  • Use grounding techniques
  • Practice relaxation techniques

For suicidal feelings

  • Grounding activities

    Grounding activities are activities that can help you cope with intense emotional pain. The grounding activities below are meant to give you relief by taking your focus off of the pain you’re experiencing:

    • Find an item in your immediate environment and pick it up. Try to describe it in as much detail as possible using as many of your senses as you can.
    • Smell something with a strong scent, such as a cup of tea, a scented candle, herbs, or soap. As you inhale, try to describe what you can smell: is the scent sweet, fruity, floral, or something else?
    • Come up with a category, such as cars or animals and try to mentally list as many things that fit into that category as you can.
    • Imagine leaving your painful feelings behind. Visualise yourself watching your emotions as if they were being broadcast on TV. Then, visualise yourself grabbing the remote and switching channels or lowering the volume.
  • Don’t get caught up in self-blame
  • Write yourself a letter filled with hope
  • Sing your own praises
  • Plan things to look forward to
  • Connect with others
  • Do an activity you enjoy
  • Create a feel-good box
I have a box full of things that make me feel better, such as a soft toy or a note from a friend. I also have things that help me if I'm feeling frustrated, angry or depressed.

For suicidal behaviours/urges

Sometimes suicidal feelings can be so intense that you don’t know how to cope. You may get the urge to harm yourself or do something to stop the pain.

Although physical pain may give you some relief from emotional pain, it can be dangerous and sometimes, it can result in fatality. So if you’re thinking about acting on your suicidal thoughts, here’s what you can do:

  • Contact Lifeline

    Lifeline is available 24/7 to help. When you call, text or message Lifeline, you’ll be connected to a compassionate supporter who will listen to you for as long as you need. You can stay anonymous and everything you share will be treated as completely private.

  • Call a trusted friend or relative
  • Delay the urge to act on your suicidal thoughts
Wait three days, and if at any point during those three days, you feel like there's a ray of hope, start again and then make a connection with a professional.
  • Distract yourself from the urge to act on your suicidal thoughts
  • Divert the urge to act on your suicidal thoughts
  • Remove the means to hurt yourself
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs

After a suicide attempt, you may be at a greater risk for attempting suicide again. It's normal to feel a range of emotions right after an attempt, such as shame, anger, relief, disappointment, and/or confusion. Although you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that your emotions will pass. Putting a safety plan together should be a first priority, together with practising self-care and getting professional support. If possible, you should try to have someone stay with you until you feel able to cope on your own.

Look after your physical health

Physical and mental health are closely related. Taking care of your physical health will improve your mental health, whereas neglecting it may result in your mental health getting worse. Paying attention to what you eat, and getting enough exercise and sleep will help you cope better on an emotional level.

Below are some tips for looking after your physical health:

  • Eat a balanced meal

    Research shows that what we eat and drink can impact how we feel and how we cope with stress. Here are some tips on how to fuel your body in a way that will best fuel your mind:

    • Include a variety of foods from different food groups in your meal
    • Aim for a balanced intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats
    • Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your meal
    • Limit processed and sugary foods, which can alter your mood
    • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and reduce sugary drinks.
  • Get out for some exercise
  • Get enough sleep
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