When Your Friend Is Talking About Suicide

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If your friend tells you he or she is feeling suicidal, take it seriously. Hearing this might make you feel overwhelmed or worried, especially if your friend is very upset or angry, but there are steps you can take to help.

Take Action. If you are worried about your friend, ask if they are thinking about killing themselves. Listen without judging them or acting shocked. Having someone to talk to honestly can help them. Many of these suggestions will work whether you are talking to your friend in person, on the phone, texting or interacting online.

Don’t keep it a secret! A secret can be dangerous if it hurts your friend. It is important to tell someone who can help you and can help your friend stay safe. Contact a trusted adult, clergy member, spiritual advisor, healer, elder, health professionals or the national prevention crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text START to 741741 to chat via text.

Offer your support. Let your friend know that you want to help them. Just knowing that somebody cares can be reassuring since your friend might feel very alone.

Choose what to say. If you’re not sure what to say, you might try saying “I’m worried about you” or “I don’t like seeing you upset,” or “I want to help you.” Whatever you decide, please be direct and don’t act shocked by what they say.

Offer to go with your friend to get help. Go with them to talk to an adult they trust about how they are feeling. Find someone they trust and who will be able to help or get help.

If your friend refuses to get help, you should go to talk to a parent, family member, teacher, counselor, or someone you trust. Or call the Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). It is important to take their words seriously until a mental health professional has had a chance to talk to your friend to see how they are feeling.

If you think your friend is in immediate danger, call 911. If you are with your friend, stay with your friend until help gets there. If you are on the phone with them, stay on the phone and see if you can get word to someone else who can call 911. If you are online with someone that you only know from online interactions, it’s still a good idea to alert 911 and the Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).



Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times and http://mindyourmind.ca/help/.


Special Thanks
Donna Noonan, MPH, CHES
Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator
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