Recently there have been a lot of suicides in my town. I have a friend who has been talking about it a lot and it’s starting to scare me. What can I do?
Hi Irene. You’re a good friend for writing in and wanting to get help. Thank you for your courage and commitment to your friend’s health.
Make sure you’re safe. Before you can get your friend help, you need to make sure you’re okay. If you ever feel for whatever reason that your own safety is at risk, please go to a trusted adult a.s.a.p. Tell them about your friend and ask them to help intervene versus you being the only one helping. Although your friend is very important, you need to keep yourself safe first and foremost.
Feel safe? Here’s how to help. For starters, allowing your friend to be honest and talk about their thoughts of suicide is really awesome and it’s important. Validating someone’s feelings and letting them talk openly and honestly without judgment can show your friend that you care and want them to live.
Listen and Don’t Judge. Many people who are feeling suicidal feel that they are alone; they may even feel helpless and hopeless. Your listening and being positive can show them that they are worth life and that hope exists. You did not leave them to deal with their feelings alone, you are showing you care by just being present. Tell them why they are important to you and why you want them here. Sharing your feelings can be hard sometimes, you never know, it could be the exact thing your friend needed!
Get Help. After listening non-judgmentally to your friend’s thoughts of suicide, ask them if they would be willing to see a healthcare professional (like a counselor, psychologist, doctor, or nurse) continue talking. You can even help them make the appointment and go with them if they need your support. There may be other resources in your community too, so check with your tribal office or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and ask them for the closest resources in your zip code.
Sometimes people who are depressed and who are considering suicide have difficulty motivating themselves to get the help they need. If your friend is not ready, be sure they agree to talk with at least one trusted adult. And please do not swear to secrecy – ever! When someone has suicidal thoughts itis an emergency, and it is a situation you’re not prepared to handle alone. You are going to need backup.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your friend about their thoughts of suicide, don’t shrug it off. Get in touch with a trusted adult (like a teacher, school counselor, psychologist) or health professional (like a doctor or a nurse). Ask that person to talk directly to your friend privately.
For more help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741741 and talk or text with a trained volunteer about how to talk about suicide with your friend or how to help them get connected with a trusted adult or health professional.
Please also check out this new Lived Experience video about how other youth deal with their thoughts of suicide, maybe it will help you with your friend.
I’ll be keeping you and your friend in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck Irene.