Your Role – Helping a Friend
Youth are powerful suicide prevention experts for other youth. It can be exciting and inspiring to be a younger person. Youth can see the world with open minds, and can imagine possibilities and solutions that older people might not see. And youth can also understand how hard it can be young. Often, it is other youth whom youth will confide in first when feeling down and even suicide.
If your friend is talking about suicide or you think they may be feeling suicidal, pay attention. Ask them directly if they are feeling suicidal. If they are, you can support them by getting them help – tell an adult and also call a crisis line. If they are in immediate danger, call 911. For more details, see below.
What are the warning signs?
The following are warning signs of suicide:
Pay particular attention especially to the following warning signs because here is someone who is actually verbalizing/ saying out loud what they want to do, which may be their way of crying/reaching out for your help:
- Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself.
- Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
- Someone talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.
Other things that they may do:
- Saying good-bye/writing a will
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Acting reckless, seemingly without thinking
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
Ways that they might feel:
- No sense of purpose
- Trapped, feeling like there is no way out
- Dramatic mood changes
If you see at least one of these warning signs, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Even if a person is not really thinking about suicide, these warning signs are still an indication that a person is having a hard time and needs help. Suicide is preventable by recognizing what the warning signs are and getting help.
What to do if you think your friend might be feeling suicidal
If you see these signs of suicide in a friend, it may be your friend’s way of calling out for help. Show you care by doing the following:
Show you care by asking directly and openly if your friend is thinking about suicide. You are sending your friend the message that they don’t have to hide their suicidal feelings from you.
- “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” “You sound really down; are you having thoughts of suicide?” “You mentioned dying. What are you planning to do?”
Encourage your friend to talk about what has been bothering them, and listen without judgment
Often, a suicidal person will agree it is a good idea to get help. Ask your friend who they would like to go to (parent, teacher, counselor, pastor, or any trusted adult). Go with your friend to speak with that person. If the person isn’t willing or able to help, find someone else.
PRESERVE LIFE, OVER FRIENDSHIP
Never promise to keep anything a secret. Don’t worry about your friend being mad at you for getting help. It is better to have your friend mad than gone forever. The fact that your friend is willing to talk to you means they want you to get help for them.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
No one should handle this on their own – even adults do not handle situations like this on their own.
Connect with a trusted and responsible adult who has good access to resources and can not only offer support for your friend but can also offer you support.
Your Role: Helping Yourself
Sometimes youth are told that they shouldn’t have a care in the world, and that their problems are not serious. We know that is not true. There can be very real concerns that youth have, such as a difficult family or caregiver relationship, conflictual friendships, loneliness, and more. Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint a particular problem, yet life just feels difficult. The feelings may include thoughts of wanting to end one’s life. It is important to get help, and not to feel so alone during those times.
What can you do if you are experiencing thoughts and feelings of suicide?
Sometimes it helps to have someone who you trust to talk to who is not a personal friend or relative. Here is a link to fact sheets on counseling: http://us.reachout.com/get-help/finding-people-to-help-and-support-you/help-and-support-for-mental-health
Your Life Your Voice:
- CALL 24/7: 1-800-448-3000
- Select times for chat and text. See website for details: http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/
- CALL (310) 855-HOPE or (800) TLC-TEEN (toll-free in CA) from 6 PM-10 PM PST
- Select times for text. See more at: https://teenlineonline.org
Youth Oriented FORUMS, FACT SHEETS AND MORE:
- Teen Line: http://teenlineonline.org
- Your Life Your Voice: www.yourlifeyourvoice.org
- ReachOut: http://us.reachout.com
- ReachOut in Spanish: http://us.reachout.com/buscaapoyo
Suicide Prevention Web Sites – information:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Youth site: http://www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
- Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide: http://www.sptsusa.org/teens/
Bullying, Cyber Bullying, and help on Social Media if someone is posting suicidal content:
Young adults and college students:
Self-Injury (cutting, Non-Suicidal Self-injury)
- National Runaway Safe line: http://www.1800runaway.org/
Dating and Sexual abuse: