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The caring environment of a church will attract and cater to the needs of people who may be experiencing difficulties in their lives that could result in them experiencing thoughts centred on ending their own life.

This policy has been developed to provide guidance to pastors, elders, ministry leaders and members of the care team with guidance to assist with helping a person who is in crisis and who is suspected of being at risk of suicide.

Your Approach

If a leader learns of an individual considering suicide or talking about self-harm they are to contact Ps Donna Hill for advice on how to proceed. Advice can also be obtained by contacting Lifeline on  Ph. 13 11 14. Lifeline will be able to provide advice for the you as the concerned person.

If Donna Hill is unable to be contacted or the situation is considered to be an emergency, immediately contact emergency services on ‘000’.

If possible, try to engage the person in conversation being sure to listen carefully and take the situation seriously. Empathy and support are critical at this time. Do not minimise what the person is sharing with you. Do not compare other peoples experience, including your own, with the person you are helping.

If possible, try to achieve the following five steps:

  1. Ask:
  • Are you having thoughts of harming yourself?
  • Do you every wish you could go to sleep and never wake up?
  • Do you have a plan for harming yourself?
  • Do you have the means to do so?

If the response to these questions leads you to believe this is an emergency situation please contact 000 immediately and do not leave the person alone until help is available.

  1. Recognise the limits of confidentiality:

If you asked to keep the conversation a secret your response needs to be, “ I Know this is hard to talk about, but I can’t make any promises until I know that you are safe.” 

  1. Connect them with someone they feel safe to talk with about their suicidal thoughts. This person must be a good fit and understand what it is you are asking them to do.

If the suicidal person is under 18, you must inform their parents/legal guardian.

  1. Refer the person to professional counselling. We are not appropriately trained to provide the appropriate therapy for suicidal people. The person may already be seeing a counsellor. Make sure you ask whether they are already in counselling and ask them for the name and contact details of the professional they are seeing.
  1. Do not leave a person at imminent risk of suicide alone.  
  • Let them know that you care. 
  • Let them know that they are not alone. 
  • Let them know that you are there to help.

If the person becomes, uncooperative or combative, or if the person appears to you be in acute danger call ‘000’ and tell the dispatcher that this person “is a danger to himself/herself”. This will engage immediate care from ambulance/police services.