Man sat against a window looking sad

Understanding why someone
would want to take
their own life


  • 3,128 people died from suicide in Australia in 2017, according to the Australian Bureau Of Statistics.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15 to 44 years.
  • There may be up to 20 suicide attempts for each actual death[i].
  • NQ Connect provides 24/7 free online counselling and phone counselling to people in Cairns, Mackay, Townsville and northern Queensland.


Suicide is such a serious issue that it is considered a major public health problem. Nationally, 3,128 people died as a result of intentional self-harm in 2017, according to the Australian Bureau Of Statistics, a 9 per cent increase over the previous year.

Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death in Australia, up from 15th in 2016 — and as in previous reports, men outnumber women three-to-one in these tragic statistics.


What makes someone think about suicide?

At the heart of a person’s suicidal thoughts is intense emotional pain. The person who is feeling suicidal may see it as a way out which will end their distress. Quite often, these thoughts may arise from multiple stressful life events occurring at the same time. The negative events may reach the point where they build up until they feel overwhelming.

Despite suicide being a widespread problem, the reasons why so many people would consider taking their own life can be difficult to understand. Even so, here are some of the most common reasons why people may be thinking about suicide.

Reasons why people may be thinking about suicide:

  • The person is experiencing relationship breakdown or separation. There may also be conflict or estrangement with friends or family.
  • They’ve experienced trauma or PTSD.
  • Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other issues are amplifying the distress.
  • There is significant distress from the loss or death of a loved one.
  • There is drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The person has experienced abuse (emotional, physical, sexual). This may have occurred in the past or may be ongoing.
  • The person has been bullied at school, work, in their family or among their friends.
  • They are living with physical disability, injury, or are experiencing illness.
  • The person has been exposed to suicidal behaviour or even an actual suicide death.
  • They are homeless or are experiencing financial stress, job loss, drought or bankruptcy.
  • They are failing academically or are struggling with stress or pressure at work.
  • Legal or court action (impending or otherwise) has affected their wellbeing, reputation, financial situation, family access, or employment.

People who are thinking about suicide are likely to give off suicide warning signs. If you are concerned, then it is important that you act. If it is an emergency, call 000. Otherwise, it may involve asking the person directly and supporting them to find professional help.

It is a myth that asking someone about their suicidal thoughts will make them more likely to want to take their own life (if anything, asking them shows that you care and are concerned). Listen without judging, keep your cool, and be supportive. Your goal should be to ensure the person gets professional help.


Talk it out… so you can talk it out

Finding out that someone you know has been thinking about suicide can be an incredibly difficult experience. While it is vital to be the best support that you can, it is also important that you don’t shoulder the burden all on your own.

If you are the person who is dealing with another’s suicidal ideation then the simple act of talking it out with a friend or family member is one of the best things you can do.

Understandably, there can be any number of reasons why you may not be able to have such a difficult conversation with people who are close to you.

If that’s the case then NQ Connect provides free counselling over the phone as well as free online counselling. Counsellors are professionally trained (there are no NQ Connect volunteer counsellors) to listen and help work out strategies to help you cope. Free counselling is available 24 7 to anyone aged 15 or over in northern Queensland.


If the situation is an emergency than call 000. Stay on the line, speak clearly, and be ready to answer the operator’s questions.



Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.