Being able to help a Suicidal Friend

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Reader’s Question

I am a recent psychology masteral and a very close friend of mine is disheartened, self-harming, and suicidal. I feel the cause of helping him but he stores refusing, believing that nothing can anymore. I used to think that it’s prevalent for depressed people to refuse enable so I should just try harder. Our organization communicate on a daily basis but only by using the text. We never talk over his phone, we don’t meet often and even just when we have made plans, he immediately cancels, saying that he’s not on the inside mood. The bottom line is that, as the solitary person he confides in, protecting his trust is crucial. What must do? Should I try to help the dog with another approach or can i just give him some space?

Psychologist’s Reply

Enduring someone close to you who is struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression can often make you feel dependent and powerless. However , you have before now made the first step in helping and getting a difference: you’ve noticed. Sometimes specifically noticing and showing concern is extremely powerful and impactful. Many people already know someone who struggles with depression a lot of even know a person close to the group who has attempted or completed committing suicide. Over 30, 000 Americans die-off by suicide each year and more than 800, 000 attempt suicide. A very common problem, yet the stigma in existance it prevents us from starting what we really need to do to help — talk about it.

Expounding on suicide is one preventative measure that we have seen help many of my taking once life clients. However , I hear associated with people ask: “If I talk about getting this done, won’t it just encourage it? Will not it just give them the idea? ” They say no, not really. Talking about the emotive content around suicide, like distress and hopelessness, can actually help the taking once life person relieve stress and feel associated with supportive people like you. It’s rarely an appropriate conversation, but don’t let that prevent you. If you suspect someone is great deal of thought, it’s OK to be direct. Travelling the topic or beating around the rose bush can send the message the fact it’s not OK to talk about it. You can just say something like “With the pain you know a person in, I was wondering if you might need thought about hurting yourself? ” Should answer is a “yes” you may want to examine if they have thought about specific ways and / or plans on how they would do it. Individuals who seriously contemplated suicide might have necessities ahead and made plans or captured action towards hurting themselves. Helping them to limit their access to or even plans, like removing guns or alternatively stashes of pills is easier after you know that’s what they are planning to offer. Ignoring it and just hoping it would go away isn’t the solution. Don’t allow comfortableness or the difficulty stop you from enquiring. Asking is good because it shows have noticed.

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Importantly, friends should never agree to secrecy about suicidal thoughts. Secrecy prevents those from talking about it. It’s naturally to discuss with them about who approach and who not to talk to. People may not be very supportive and speaking with them can actually make someone feel more alone and depressed. Nevertheless , we need to keep them talking and keeping it a secret only prevents that.

You’d be surprised at how frequently people are willing to talk about it. Most suicidal individuals are looking for relief and escape from their pain, maybe not for an end to their life. Speaing frankly about it can bring that relief. When you can get them talking it may be easier than you think to keep the conversation going.

The next thing to greatly help is really pretty easy: just be quiet and listen. Most of my suicidal clients report they often feel better for a bit when they feel like they have been heard. Don’t think you have to fix or solve their problems. A lot of people know already what they need to do to feel a lot better. They just need support and encouragement to do it. Depression usually inhibits their motivation to get to their solutions. Your support and hope can be enough to get them going toward recovery.

Where you are able to be more directive in helping is getting the suicidal person to the help they need. Assisting them in finding resources such as suicide crisis lines, therapy, psychiatrists and hospitals can be the next vital step.

One source is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), that is free, confidential and available 24/7. There are even online crisis centers and crisis intervention through Skype or texting if talking to some body is too uncomfortable.

Please read my article on Myths About Suicide if you would like to find out more about suicide and those thinking about it.

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All clinical material on this website is peer reviewed by a number of clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by Dr Peter Thomas, PhD on and last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on.

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