F A Q - Suicide

1. Why do people attempt suicide?

People usually attempt suicide to stop unbearable emotional pain, which can be caused by a range of problems. It is often a cry for help ...


2. Aren't all suicidal people crazy?

No, having suicidal thoughts does not imply that you are crazy, or necessarily mentally ill. People who attempt suicide are often acutely distressed and the vast majority are depressed to some extent ...


3. Doesn't talking about suicide encourage it?

It depends what aspect you talk about. Talking about the feelings surrounding suicide promotes understanding and can greatly reduce the immediate distress of a suicidal person ...


4. So what sort of things can contribute to someone feeling suicidal?

The stress or trauma generated by a given event will vary from person to person depending on their background and how they deal with that particular cause of stress. People can usually deal with isolated stressful or traumatic events and experiences reasonably well, but when there is an accumulation of such events over an extended period, our normal coping strategies can be pushed to the limit ...


5. How would I know if someone I care about was contemplating suicide?

Suicidal people will often give warning signs, consciously or unconsciously, indicating that they need help and often in the hope that they will be rescued. These usually occur in clusters, so often several warning signs will be apparent -  withdrawing, depression, negative comments about ones self and so on ...


6. I'm a bit uncomfortable about the topic; can't it just go away?

Suicide has traditionally been a taboo topic in western society, which has led to further alienation and only made the problem worse...


7. So what can I do about it?

There usually are people to whom a suicidal person can turn for help; if you ever know someone is feeling suicidal, or feel suicidal yourself, seek out people who could help, and keep seeking until you find someone who will listen. Once again, the only way to know if someone is feeling suicidal is if you ask them and they tell you. Suicidal people, like all of us, need love, understanding and care...


8. Help? Counselling? But isn't counselling just a waste of time?

Certainly it is true that counselling is not a magic cure-all. It is not a "solution" in itself, but it can be a vital, effective and helpful step along the way...


9. Talk, talk, talk. It's all just talk. How's that going to help?

While it's not a long-term solution in itself, asking a person and having them talk about how they feel greatly reduces their feelings of isolation and distress, which in turn significantly reduces the immediate risk of suicide...


10. How do telephone counselling and suicide hot-line services work?

Different services vary in what they offer, but in general you can ring up and speak anonymously to a counsellor about any sort of problem in a no-pressure context that's less threatening than a face-to-face session. Talking the situation over with a caring, independent person can be of great assistance whether you're in a crisis yourself, or worried about someone else who is...


11. What about me; am I at risk?

It's quite likely that some people that read this will one day attempt suicide, so here's a quick suicide prevention exercise: think of a list of 5 people who you might talk to if you had no-one else to turn to, starting with the most preferred person at the top of the list. Form a "no-suicide contract" with yourself ...


12. How does suicide affect friends and family members?

Suicide is often extremely traumatic for the friends and family members that remain (the survivors), even though people that attempt suicide often think that no-one cares about them. In addition to the feelings of grief normally associated with a person's death, there may be guilt, anger...


13. Hang on; isn't it illegal though? Doesn't that stop people?

Whether it is legal or not makes no difference to someone who is in such distress that they are trying to kill themselves. You can't legislate against emotional pain. However it is not illegal in NZ...


14. But don't people have the right to kill themselves if they want to?

Yes, and it must always remain the person's own responsibility to choose what they wish to do. However, helping people to avoid choices that they would normally regret empowers people with their rights...


15. Who attempts or completes suicide?

All kinds of people attempt or complete suicide: young and old, rich and poor, male and female, of all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. However it must be remembered that it is only a small group of people that complete suicide. It is not a normal or readily acceptable response to pain or adverse circumstances.
Demographic breakdown
Factors causing suicide
Key statistics



16. How does a completed suicide affect the survivors (the family and friends)? How can I support them?

Family, friends and other survivors who have experienced the suicidal death of someone they know are driven by the search for reasons as to why the suicide occured. They feel guilt and grief. Their trust in eroded and they are at risk of attemting suicide themselves.
You can support them by getting them to a counsellor and a survivor support group. Accept their need to search out the reasons why. Encourage them to talk and be a good listener.Try to get them to put off making any major decisions.
Supporting Survivors


17. How does an attempted suicide affect the family and friends?

Any suicidal act has a marked emotional effect on all involved. The person's family, friends, and doctor may feel guilt, shame, and remorse at not having prevented the suicide. They may also feel anger toward the person.


18. How Do Children Respond To a Suicide of Someone Close To Them?

Children often feel responsible for deaths. They feel upset and full of guilt. You cannot cover it up, you must talk to childen about a suicide.


19. Of any 10 persons who complete suicide, how many give prior warning?

8 of 10 suicides give warnings prior to killing themselves. Most people give clues - verbal or non-verbal - before a suicide attempt. For warning signs to look for...


20. Are all people who complete suicide depressed?

Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent. Suicide occurs when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. Factors Causing Suicide
Depressed People at Risk from Suicide


21. When is a death called a suicide?

Only a coroner can classify a death as a suicide. A coroner will inquire into a death whenever there is something violent, unnatural, unexpected, or suspicious about a death, or where a doctor cannot issue a medical certificate as to a cause of death. We describe more about what kinds of deaths are registered as suicide here and the ongoing debate about the numbers recorded...


22. Is suicide painless?

Most forms of suicide are painful, NOT a 'painless, easy way out'. Since it is not the purpose of this website to advocate or promote suicide, we do not describe those methods that are relatively painless.


23. What should I do for my depressed child/teenager?

The number-one cause of suicide is untreated depression. If your child or teenager talks about suicide, to you or anyone else, or shows warning signs such as giving belongings away and being preoccupied with death, consult with your child's doctor or mental health professional immediately.


24. What if my teen refuses to see a medical professional?

Sometimes young people who show signs that they are planning suicide will not agree to visit a doctor, a counsellor, or other health professional.