4 Support a Friend
Know what to do when someone you know is struggling.
Mental Health Humor and psychological disorder humor and cartoons by Chato Stewart
If you are concerned that someone you know might be thinking about harming themselves and believe they may be in immediate danger of hurting themselves, call 911. For additional guidance and support call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk with a professional.
Note that it is important to not deal with the situation alone. Suicide is too big to deal with all by yourself. Include and involve others in the care, recovery and support of a friend or family member. School-aged individuals should tell a trusted adult, a parent, a teacher or school counselor. Adults can reach out to a professional health worker or a trusted friend, family member or co-worker.
Suicide is not a secret and cannot be kept a secret. It is better to lose a friendship than it is to lose a friend to suicide.
How you respond to someone that is showing signs of emotional distress or a potential problem is often dependent on your relationship with that person. If you have a long history with the person, you may be a key resource for support and feel comfortable having a discussion with them about how they are feeling.
Ways to be helpful to someone who may be suicidal but is not in immediate danger:
- Be aware. Listen to them and learn the warning signs.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Ask if he/she is thinking about suicide. Be direct. Talk openly and freely about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow them to talk openly about their feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get help by reaching out to someone you trust. Another adult, a school teacher, a counselor, a close friend or family member.