Australian Suicide Prevention Foundation

A National Health Promotion Charity


Transcript: 2BS Sydney Radio's Jac Underwood interview with Prof. David Horgan about the “Prevent A Suicide: What to Say” app.

28 November, 2023

It’s great to have your company this afternoon.

40% of all people will have contact at some time in life with a person close to us who has strong suicidal ideas, which may be brief or go on for weeks or even longer.

And these are the words of our next guest, his name is Professor David Horgan.

Good afternoon.

Good afternoon.

That’s a sobering statistic.

Yes, and indeed it is one of the things that we really don’t talk about because we are all afraid that talking about it will make the situation worse or if somebody does say I wish I was dead or I’m thinking of doing something to myself, then we all freeze and don’t know what to say.

And we did a resolved strategic survey of over 2,000 people last year and that’s exactly that should turn third, the population at least, are afraid and don’t know what to say in this situation like that. What are the statistics just within Australia around suicide? Well, I’d like to say a busload of people every week die from suicide, which is over 3,000 people, and a plane load of people attempt suicide every day. It’s really quite amazing. Some between 65 and 100,000 people in Australia attempt suicide in a year.


It’s two basically, two emotional pain, stress of life, and of course the stress they cause depression, which is a huge, an increasing problem, especially for young people, and especially I suppose for people in isolated areas where there are more pressures, less supports, less intervention and perhaps as stigma is a major issue.

So we have this app, Preventive Suicide, what to say, which is totally private. If a family member is talking about suicidal thoughts or a friend, instead of freezing, you’re saying please ring Lifeline and on the crisis lines do an excellent job.

One telephone call, if they will make it, is really not going to change things a great deal for many people.

So what we are emphasising is that the listeners understand how important they can be in a situation like this. And because messages that are approved medically from somebody like their sibling, parent, cousins, friends, work colleague, and from all of those people, making a huge difference when somebody is feeling so desperate and in such pain.

And this app, as I say, preventive suicide, what to say, does not need any training, just download the app and it’s self-explanatory.

We have hundreds of medically approved texts. You select one with downloads onto the messages section of your telephone and you can send it as it is or modify it to make it more personal.

Right. So there’s a medically proven way of what you should say to someone?

Well, sorry, we can’t say it’s medically proven because we really can’t prove what works or does not really work when professionals are talking to people. But these are the phrases that mental health professionals use all the time. And it would start off with, “I think it’s so bad you Do you wish you didn’t wake up in the morning? Do you wish you weren’t alive? Have you thought of doing something to yourself past trauma and thoughts?”

And then we have options on the app about what to ask, what to say, what to do, and indeed connecting until recovery.

So the getting supportive messages each day or a couple of times a day from a person who’s concerned about you or a number of people reassures us all that we are not alone. And what research does show is that connections present suicide. So those questions, some might think, I don’t know if I could ever ask that, but that’s really qualifying questions that really makes the other person feel seen and heard if they are having those thoughts.

Exactly, and this really is the elephant in the room.

You’re quite right because we tell people to drive safely but they are more than twice as likely to be killed or injured by suicide or by a suicide
attempt and they are by a car accident and this particularly applies to young women in the age group 15 to 30. They have huge rates of emotional pain and and suicide attempts unfortunately.

And if we can intervene just with support and reassurance, it makes a huge difference because the stress and the depression tells the person 24/7, there is no hope he’ll ever recover, nobody understands, you’re a burden, etc. If you have family and friends saying the exact opposite and quoting our messages, then you are directly confronting what the condition is telling the person. And this is totally free.

And all the askers that the listener gives us some publicity, tells friends about it, tells their people on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, whatever, that this free service exists.

And I think it’s a very huge difference.

Yeah, all right. It’s an app. It’s called “Prevent a Suicide – What to Say.”Download it for free from any online store and you know the prompts are available 24/7.

This is great to hear about especially for us in regional areas and well done on developing it.
Thank you very much, we very much appreciate your interest.
Thanks so much see you.

Thank you.

Clinical Associate Professor David Hogan there has developed an app it is free it is available now it’s called “Prevent A Suicide – What To Say” and if this interview has raised any issues for your member support is available 24/7 at Lifeline. That’s 13 11 14.

*Important Disclaimer: Our texts are approved by those who themselves had suicidal thoughts, and by medical and other mental health professionals. This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor or mental health professional.


Australian Suicide
Prevention Foundation

For over 20 years we’ve provided Australia-wide suicide prevention to every and any vulnerable Australian, whether they be in metropolitan, rural or isolated areas.


By donating to or otherwise assisting (a programme from you are helping hundreds of thousands of people who have or will have suicidal ideas.

© Australian Suicide Prevention Foundation

Built by  Conscious Agency