1. Make a plan to keep yourself safe
Take some time to fill in the Personal Safety Plan with a doctor or support person, or by yourself.
This plan asks you to think about what you need to stay safe, your reasons for staying alive, what you can do and who can help.
2. Find people or services you can talk to
Think about who you could talk to – these could be friends, family or whānau members, medical professionals or a free 24/7 helpline like 1737.
People will react in different ways – if the first person you talk to doesn’t listen or support you, try someone else.
3. Remove risks from your environment
This could include getting rid of alcohol, drugs and extra medicines. It might also mean going somewhere to recover, away from people or places that hurt or upset you. Ask your doctor or support person if they can help you to find a safe place, like a respite service.
4. Let other people help you
Keep seeing your doctor, counsellor or health professionals. You could ask someone to help you make appointments, or go with you.
If you’re on new medicines, keep taking them and remember that they will take time to start working. Talk to your doctor about any side-effects you experience, especially if you feel worse.
5. Give yourself a chance
Try to be kind to yourself. You deserve support. It’s okay to take the time you need before returning to work, school or other roles.
You only have to cope one day or one hour at a time. It might be hard, but try to hold on to hope, and connect with people who help you feel hopeful. You won’t always feel this way.
“I didn’t know that life could be as good as it is. Sometimes I cry with gratitude at how much better it is now.” – Sam, 26
What to expect
All health professionals are legally required to maintain their patient’s confidentiality but there are some exceptions. These include if:
- you have given permission to share your personal information
- they believe you may hurt yourself or somebody else
- they need to talk with another health professional about you and your treatment
- they are legally required to share your confidential information.
If you are 16 years or under it's important for a whānau member or carer to know what has happened so that they can support you. This does not mean that they will hear every detail of your conversations, but health professionals can provide them with information that helps them to support you and keep you safe.
If you’re unsure how confidentiality works, ask the health services staff to explain it to you and your support people so everyone understands what information will and won’t be shared.
Before you go home
Sometimes services are full and you may feel you’re being asked to return home when you don’t feel safe to do so. If you do not feel safe to return home, say so, and ask what other options are available. It can be helpful to write this information down so that you can refer to it again later.
Before you head home make sure you understand:
- What you can do to make it easier to get through the next few days (e.g. some small things you can do for yourself that help you to cope, like playing music, colouring, going for a walk or karakia).
- What supports are available and useful to you when you return home – write these down and make sure they’re easy for you to get to
- What you should do if you feel suicidal again – a kind of safety plan. You can download or order a free copy of our safety plan.
- Names and contact details for counsellors or other support services or helplines like 1737.
- Names and contact details for emergency services or your local mental health crisis team.
Health professional responses may differ
It may also change depending on how busy they are and how much support they have to spend time with you and listen to your concerns. Time pressures within the clinic or hospital may also affect the amount of time that they can spend with you.
Some people find it hard to talk about personal stuff – that’s OK, just tell the health professional that – it’s a great place to start!
Consider the advice the health professionals offer you, talk openly about any worries that you have, and ask questions so you fully understand your options for moving forward.
If you do not feel safe to return home, say so and ask what other options are available.
If you’re not happy with the care you receive, you’re entitled to complain. You may also like to find an advocate or peer support worker who can help ensure you are getting the right care and understand your rights.
How do I find out about my rights as a mental health service client?
How can I make a complaint about a health service provider?
Health and Disability Commissioner's complaints information: 0800 11 22 33
Online Complaint Form.
This page outlines the Health and Disability Commissioner's complaints process.
Booklet: Your Rights & How to Make a Complaint (Te Reo Maori)
See also Making Complaints: A Guide for Mental Health Service Users (Human Rights Commission)
Complaints about human rights being violated
Human Rights Commission: 0800 496 877
See also Making Complaints: A Guide for Mental Health Service Users (Human Rights Commission)
Complaint that privacy has been invaded
Privacy Commissioner: 0800 803 909
Forum for people who allege abuse or neglect, or have concerns about their time in Government care (including psychiatric hospitals and wards)
The former Confidential Listening and Assistance Service has closed. You may wish to contact the agency responsible for your care directly. For matters relating to child welfare care contact HistoricClaims@msd.govt.nz or for matters relating to psychiatric care contact the legal services team at email@example.com
How do I find an advocate or peer-support service?
You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for your local numbers 0800 367 222.
What you might be thinking or feeling
You can experience a range of feelings, and you might find these feelings can change quickly and unexpectedly.
- You might feel exhausted, numb, remorseful or embarrassed. Or you might feel shame or guilt, worried about how your attempt has affected those around you.
- You might also feel angry about what has happened and find it hard to see any hope for the future.
- Alternatively you might be relieved and glad you have survived but unsure about what happens now.
- Let other people help you where possible.
- If you live alone, consider asking someone you trust to stay with you until things settle down. Alternatively, you might prefer to stay at their home.
- Follow the advice of doctors and health professionals and take any medication they have prescribed.
- Try to establish a routine with sleeping, meals and exercise.
- Keep appointments with counsellors and doctors.
- Remove things in and around the house that you could harm yourself with.
- Keep the use of alcohol and drugs to a minimum and preferably avoid them altogether. They can impair your judgement and make you feel worse.
- If people are trying to be helpful, acknowledge and respond to them. Although you may still not be in a space to talk in any detail, let them know you will talk more when you feel ready.
- If people from your support network are not available and you feel worried, unsure or suicidal again, consider calling a helpline or support service.
- Make a safety plan.
Support for you
People supporting you – how to talk to them
They’re probably worried about saying the wrong thing. Here are some ways you can connect with them and help them to help you:
- Acknowledge and thank those who make contact, even if you’re not ready to talk.
- If you are unsure about what to say, thank them for their concern and let them know you are handling things as best as you can.
- If you find it comforting to have people with you then tell them that and ask them to stay with you.
- Consider sharing how you feel and seeking support from those you trust and who care about you.
You get to decide what you’re comfortable sharing or discussing – if someone only wants to talk about your suicide attempt, you can tell them this makes you upset or uncomfortable and tell them what you’d like to talk about instead.
If you can, be clear about what you need: For example:
“What I need is for you to listen to me without telling me what I need to do.” Or
“I’d really appreciate it if we could talk about other things at the moment. I just want to get my mind off it.”
How to use your support network – what other people can do for you, what to ask for
- Asking them to attend medical appointments with you and take notes for you to read over later.
- Asking them to call your school or workplace, share the information you’re comfortable sharing and arrange some time off.
- Helping you to access cultural support – such as connecting you with a kaumātua or kuia.
- Looking after your children.
- Helping with meals or house-cleaning.
- Support with accessing professional help (e.g. finding a free counsellor).
- Support with managing finances (e.g. they may be able to help you access support from Work and Income NZ if necessary).
- Helping you to remember to take your medication.
- Supporting you to exercise or spend time in nature.
- Doing things with you that you enjoy and find meaningful.
Returning to work and study
Before returning, it may be useful to talk to your manager, counsellor or teacher about:
- flexible days or hours when you first return
- time-off to attend appointments
- initial reduced work or study load while you transition back
- flexible deadlines for work or study tasks
- identifying who else can support you at work or school.
If you don’t have close relationships with the people you work or study with you may not want to talk about what has happened; you might want to keep your personal and work/school life separate. However, letting someone know what’s happened and that you will need some help creates opportunities to receive additional support. It’s up to you whether this is the right choice for you.
By law, under the Human Rights Act, workplaces and teaching institutions are required to make reasonable adjustments to support people who have been or are unwell.
Before returning to either work or study, you may wish to get advice, or find out about your rights and/or what supports are available from services such as:
- your workplace’s human resources department
- the Employee Assistance Programme provider or Student Counselling Service
- the Human Rights Commission
- the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.
Recovery & the future
It might help to see this time as a turning point; an opportunity for you to find your way back. You will still have ups and downs. However, by focusing on the potential for change following your darkest times, and accepting the assistance of others, you can create opportunities that offer hope and direction for your future.
This online resource was developed by bringing together the wisdom and experiences of people affected by suicide and combining it with what we know to be helpful.
The people involved in the Beyond Blue project, Finding your way back, talked about suicide being a part of their past, but that it was not going to define their future. They wished the same for you, that you can look to the future with a sense of hope and take a step towards the life you want to live.
(Source: Finding your way back - a resource for people how have attempted suicide (adapted to include NZ law and terms) with kind permission from Beyond Blue).