Following the tragic death of Robin Williams, Lifeline Australia saw a 25% increase in calls.

When faced with someone in crisis, many people don’t know what to do, or how to help. Some are concerned about making things worse. This means many people don’t approach the person at all. The person in crisis may feel that no one cares or can help.

If you’re worried about someone, having a simple, real conversation with them can be the most important thing.  Here are 3 simple steps that really work:

 1) Ask

If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” Don’t be afraid to do this, it shows you care and will actually decrease their risk because it shows someone is willing to talk about it. Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously.

2) Listen and stay with them

If they say ‘yes’, they are suicidal, listen to them and allow them to express how they are feeling. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them or get someone else reliable to stay with them.

3) Get help

Get them appropriate help. Call a crisis line like Lifeline 13 11 14 or 000 if life is in danger. If life is not in danger and you can get in straight away, visit a GP or psychologist. Even if the danger is not immediate the person will often need longer term support for the issues that led to them feeling this way.

These three steps were outlined by Lifeline chair John Brogden on the Sunrise program (see link below)

When she saw this five minute segment, one woman took notice. She asked a friend if he was suicidal, and he was – in fact he was writing farewell notes at the time. Together they called Lifeline and got him to the help he needed.  See

For further information about Lifeline see

For information about training for your organisation on suicide prevention, mental health and supporting people in distress, contact [email protected]

– By Ann Evans, MAPS, National Practice Adviser, Lifeline Australia

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