It can be difficult to know how to help someone who is suicidal. If a friend or family member has expressed suicidal thoughts, you’re probably scared for their well-being and concerned about doing or saying the right thing. Talking openly with your loved one and remaining aware of suicide warning signs can make a big difference for an individual who is struggling.
Speak Up When You’re Worried
When a friend expresses suicide thoughts, your first instinct may be to reassure them that nothing is wrong. In fact, while the subject is often uncomfortable to speak about, talking openly about suicide with your loved one is important. You can start by responding to their expression of suicidal thoughts by asking questions such as:
- How long have you been feeling this way?
- Did something happen that you believe triggered these thoughts?
- Are you thinking about getting medical help for these feelings?
- What can I do to best support you?
Let the person know that even though you may not understand exactly what they are experiencing, you care about them deeply and want to help them overcome their suicidal thoughts. Reassure them that they are not alone, and that help is available.
Don’t get stuck on the possibility of saying the wrong thing. Instead, aim to speak to your friend with warmth and authenticity, and know that your concern will show through. Act as a listening ear and allow them to tell you about their sadness, anger and despair. The ability to express even the most negative feelings is a positive sign that your loved one hasn’t given up on themselves.
Pitfalls to Avoid
When someone you know has expressed suicidal thoughts, take their assertions seriously. Even if they make oblique references such as “I can’t go on,” ask if they are considering suicide. Don’t argue with the person or provide empty platitudes like “you have so much to live for,” even when these statements are true.
Don’t lecture your loved one about your moral views on suicide. Let them know you are a trusted confidante while also refusing to keep your conversation a secret. When your loved one’s life is at risk, you should always speak to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
Be Aware of the Signs
Someone who is feeling suicidal won’t always talk about it with their loved ones. Ask the person how they are feeling and if they need to seek help if you notice any of these signs:
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
- Giving away possessions or making arrangements
- Feelings of self-loathing or lack of self-worth
- Withdrawing from people and activities previously enjoyed
If someone you love has expressed suicidal thoughts, it is important to get help for them as soon as possible. The staff at High Focus Centers has the skills and experience to help your loved one fight their suicidal feelings. Submit a confidential contact form or call us at (877) 701-0682 to learn more about our mental health treatment programs.