Suicide awareness and prevention

There are lots of things you can do to support your loved one if they are experiencing anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings. Understanding suicide and ways to prevent it is the first step.  Noticing changes in your loved one's behaviour and assisting them to find the support they need could save their life.

If you’re loved one is having suicidal thoughts, there may be some behavioural and physical changes.


Non-verbal changes may include:

  • Social withdrawal

  • Disinterest in their appearance

  • Poor health or rapid weight changes

  • Being easily distracted

  • Anger and out-of-character outbursts 

  • Alcohol or drug abuse.


Indirect verbal expressions may include:

  • Believing they are a burden to others

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Failing to see a brighter future

  • Talking about death.


You can read more about warning signs at Beyond Blue


Follow your gut instinct.  If you feel something is not right, have a conversation with them in a safe and calm environment.


Ask them directly . . . “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” or “Are you thinking of suicide?” or “Do you want to kill yourself?” 


If they say yes, then ask . . . “Have you got a plan to kill yourself?” as this will be an indication of the type and urgency of support needed.


What not to say:

  • Don’t soften it . . . “You are not going to be silly or do something silly are you?” or “Are you ok?”

  • Don’t try to talk them out of suicide by reminding them ‘what they’ve got going for them’ or ‘how much it would hurt their friends and family'

  • Don’t try to fix their problems, but rather listen with empathy and without judgement

  • Don’t dismiss their behaviour as ‘attention seeking’.  Take them seriously and acknowledge the reasons they want to die.


What do I do if they don’t want help:

  • Offer reliable information and encourage them to see that seeking help is a good idea.  Beyond Blue offers some good resources and helpful information.

  • Encourage them to seek professional help.

  • Do not use guilt to change their mind.

  • Let them know you are prepared to talk when they are ready.

  • If their symptoms become severe, you may need to seek help even though it is against their wishes by contacting family, a GP, taking them to hospital, calling 000 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.


When you are sure they are safe from immediate danger you could:

  • Talk about the support they currently have and explore some options including speaking to a GP or a counsellor either of their own choosing (for police officers), with a WA Police Psychologist (available to all employees) or the Employee Assistance Program (available to all employees and their families), or accessing online information.

  • If they want to talk to someone you could help by making the first appointment or staying with them while they make the call. 

  • Stay with them or get someone they trust to be with them.

  • Make sure they don’t have access to anything they can hurt themselves with (e.g. pills, weapons).


 In summary:

  • If you think your loved one may be suicidal, ask them: if they say yes, ask whether they have a plan.

  • Encourage them to link in with support options like family, friends, a GP, a counsellor, or Lifeline by calling 13 11 14.

  • Suggest seeking counselling from a WA Police Force psychologist call 6229 5615 (8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday) or email Police Family Support or the independent counselling service (Employee Assistance Program), free for WA Police Force personnel and their immediate family on 1300 687 327
    (available 24/7). Police officers are also entitled to out of pocket costs associated with seeing a
    psychologist of their choice (with a referral).


Please remember, it’s also important to make sure you have support during this difficult time. Helping someone with anxiety and depression is not easy and can take both an emotional and physical toll.  Make sure you have some help and the chance to talk with someone who can check in with how you’re feeling on a regular basis.  Make sure you providing support to others at the cost of your own wellbeing.


The independent counselling service (Employee Assistance Program), free for WA Police Force personnel and their immediate family on 1300 687 327 (available 24/7) or contact the Police Family Support Email or call 6229 5615 (8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday).