Mental Health First Aid for the Suicidal Person course as featured on the ABC

Suicide first aid: Would you know what to do if someone

was thinking of taking their own life?

PHOTO: Trys Reddick asks his students to write on post it notes what they know about suicide. (ABC News: Eliza Borrello)
Would you know what to do if you thought someone you love was suicidal?

It’s a complex situation best handled by professionals, but like physical emergencies, knowing mental health first aid can help.

The concept has been around since the 1990s but a new course focused on suicide is running in Perth.

Trys Reddick, an accredited Mental Health First Aid instructor, runs in person the course through his organisation Passionate Lives.

He relies on grant money to be able to deliver the service free of charge to the community.

At the moment the course is so popular he has 200 people on a waiting list.

What are the signs someone is feeling suicidal?

Ten signs to look out for

  • Threatening to hurt or kill themselves
  • Looking for ways to kill themselves
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless, enraged, angry, seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, as if there is no way out
  • Increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic changes in mood
  • No reason for living, no sense of purpose in life

Source: Mental Health First Aid Australia

The course teaches 10 signs to look out for.

They include feelings of hopelessness, someone threatening to hurt of kill themselves, writing a will, making amends with people or giving away possessions.

Helping someone who is suicidal is complicated, but the course suggests three key actions to take.

The first is if you think someone’s suicidal, ask them directly.

If they say yes, don’t leave them alone, and try to get them professional help. GPs are the first port of call.

One of Mr Reddicks’ students knows more about suicide than most.

What to do

  • If you think someone may be suicidal, ask them directly
  • If they say yes, do not leave them alone. (ie stay with them, invite them to your house if appropriate, or link them with friends)
  • Link them with professional help. A GP is the first port of call

Source: Mental Health First Aid Australia 

Three years ago Paul Mallett tried to end his life.

“I don’t want to hide things, I’ve always drunk alcohol, it hasn’t been great,” Mr Mallett said.

“I probably still drink too much alcohol but ultimately a family breakdown led to a crisis for me.”

After 20 minutes, the 51-year-old called an ambulance.

If you or anyone you know needs help:

“I guess it dawned on me, if I can’t look after my kids, who’s going to do it?

“The experiences I’ve had since then are things I wouldn’t trade for the world — teaching my son to drive a car, helping with homework, just chatting, going to the movies, all those things that normal people do.”

The course Mr Reddick teaches, which was developed by Mental Health First Aid Australia, has won a big tick of approval from Beyond Blue’s Grant Blashki.

“Mental health first aid is really appropriate for anyone in the community but especially people who are in the education sector or community groups or having a lot of contact with members of the public,” he said.

To book a mental health first aid course visit the shop.

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