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Working together to prevent suicide

Working together to prevent suicide

Working together to prevent suicide

World Suicide Prevention Day 2018 is on Monday 10 September. ‘Working together to prevent suicide’ is the theme this year, and everyone is being encouraged to take a minute to reach out to others in the community – a family member, friend, colleague or even a stranger – to help keep them safe.

This World Suicide Prevention Day, for those people who are feeling vulnerable, the theme ‘Working together to prevent suicide’ reinforces that they can reach out to those they can trust to help keep themselves safe.

It’s an important message of empathy and action and optimism, says Paul Martin, suicide prevention coordinator for the Southern district New Zealand.

“There are improvements to be made, but good work is being done by dedicated health professionals, support workers, counsellors and others – and people’s lives are being saved because they have sought and received help, ” he says. “It is important to remember that we all can reach out. And doing so could change someone’s life.”

While there are no simple solutions to suicide prevention, there are simple steps we all can take, starting with talking and listening:


  • People who have lived through a suicide attempt often say they desperately wanted someone to ask if they were okay.
  • Connection and conversation are the keys to helping those who are vulnerable to suicide. We know that sharing, bringing hope, caring and compassion help us all feel good about our world.
  • It is okay to ask someone if they are suicidal. If you suspect that they are, if your gut feeling tells you ‘something does not feel right’, or you know that they are suicidal, asking them something like “what you have just talked about sounds pretty hard to cope with right now; sometimes people in those kind of situations start thinking about suicide – are you thinking about killing yourself?’ This will not trigger something. If they say ‘yes’, you can guide them to people who can support them and keep them safe.


  • Suicidal people are often looking for someone to ask them how they are, and they do really want to talk to someone about what they are feeling. Once you have asked them the question, it is important to listen to them, to hear them out in a caring and comforting environment and help them to access the support they need.
  • Stigma around suicide plays a large role in why people do not reach out for help. If you are talking to someone about suicide, it is vital that you listen without judgment.
  • People having thoughts of suicide cannot see another way out of their current situation, but there is always another, better option than suicide. Let them talk about how they are feeling in a way that they feel understood and not judged. Understand that it is their life’s journey to date that has made them conclude suicide is an option. They simply need more options, skills and people they can trust to get them through this bad patch.
  • Know where to go for help in your local community: emergency services, counselling services, your GP. Who else in the whānau or local community can be a trusted contact for this person?
  • As a family member or friend, you can use a Safety Plan working in trust alongside a vulnerable person to help guide them to a safer place and give them the tools to get there, along with their access to professional support.

Where to get help

  • Beyond Blue ( has a list of management strategies you can access and follow. Chat online or call 1300 22 4636.
  • Lifeline Australia’s 24-hour crisis line: 13 11 14. Or chat online at
  • The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand ( has information on anxiety and CBT.
  • For NZ Lifeline, call 0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999 or free text 4357 (HELP). NZ Youthline is on 0800 376 633.
  • To find a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy practitioner or a meditation instructor in Australia, go to
  • To find a mindfulness meditation teacher in New Zealand, go to
  • For a Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher in New Zealand, go to
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