Helping a friend who is at risk of suicide is a serious and challenging situation. It's crucial to take their feelings and concerns seriously and offer support.
- Take It Seriously: If your friend talks about suicide or shows warning signs, don't dismiss it as attention-seeking. Take their words and actions seriously.
- Listen and Be Non-Judgmental:
- Let your friend know you're there to listen without judgment. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and concerns.
- Ask Directly: If you believe your friend is at immediate risk, ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. This may be uncomfortable, but it's essential to understand their intentions.
- Stay Calm: Remain as calm as possible, even if you're scared or upset. Your friend needs your support and stability.
- Remove Means: If your friend has access to means for self-harm or suicide, such as medications or weapons, try to safely remove these items from their environment.
- Encourage Professional Help: Suggest that your friend speak with a mental health professional or a counselor. Offer to help them find resources or accompany them to appointments.
- Involve a Trusted Adult: If your friend is in immediate danger or refuses to seek help, involve a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher, school counselor, or a relative.
- Stay with Them: If your friend is in immediate crisis, don't leave them alone. Stay with them or ensure that someone else is with them until professional help arrives.
- Supportive Messages: Send your friend supportive messages and check in on them regularly. Let them know you care and are there for them.
- Know Emergency Contacts: Ensure you and your friend both have access to emergency hotlines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) or a local crisis line.
- Educate Yourself: Learn about the warning signs of suicide and mental health conditions. This knowledge can help you better understand your friend's situation.
- Respect Their Privacy: While it's essential to support your friend, also respect their privacy and boundaries. Don't pressure them to share more than they are comfortable with.
- Stay Connected: Even after your friend receives professional help, continue to stay connected and be a source of support.
- Take Care of Yourself: Helping a friend at risk of suicide can be emotionally draining. Make sure you also seek support and guidance from trusted adults or professionals.
Remember that you are not expected to handle this situation alone. Involving adults and professionals is often necessary to ensure your friend's safety. Your role is to be a caring and supportive friend who encourages them to seek the help they need. Don't delay in taking action if you believe your friend is in immediate danger; their safety should always be the top priority.