“I’m so sorry you’re going through this.”
It’s important to validate what your friend is feeling and experiencing. In addition, this statement shows that you care for and empathize with them.
“Can I bring you something to eat? Would you like it if I came over?”
Instead of asking if there’s anything you can do, think of a couple of specific things that you could do to help or support your friend.
“You mean so much to me. I can’t imagine life without you.”
Take a moment to let your friend know just how much you love and care for them. You might even remind them of a funny or heartwarming memory. Be sure to do so in a calm, non-aggressive way.
“I know that you’re in pain.”
Again, validate how your friend is feeling and reiterate to them that you are there to help however you can.
“YOur life isn't that bad.”
- It might not seem like your friend has reason to feel so unhappy but know that if they are having thoughts of suicide, they are in more pain than you realize. Avoid this statement as well as similar phrases, as they only pass judgment.
“You don’t really want to die…”
- You may say this out of fear, but stop yourself if you can. If your friend is talking about suicide or showing signs of suicidal behavior, it is to be taken seriously. Do what you can to make them feel comfortable opening up instead and ask if they’ll let you get them professional help.
“You have too much to live for.” or Everything will blow over.”
- This statement also undermines their feelings. If your friend is suffering from suicidal thoughts or feelings, they don’t feel like they have a lot to live for — even if you know they do.
“Everybody’s got their problems.”
- When someone is suicidal, they feel that they have no other option and telling them this is incredibly invalidating to their pain.
Here are a few questions you could ask:
-Do you think about hurting yourself?
- Do you think about dying?
- Do you think your friends and family would be better off without you?
If they answer yes to any of these questions, then follow up with these questions:
- Do you have a plan?
- Do you have the means to carry out that plan?
Asking these questions will allow you to better gauge the severity of their symptoms and help you decide which step you need to take next.
Know When it's Time to Act
If you are having this conversation with a friend, it’s time to reach out to somebody. However, depending on whether your friend is actively suicidal (seriously considering suicide, has a plan or the means to carry out a plan) or experiencing suicidal ideation without any intention of acting on it (passively suicidal) — you need to make sure they are getting the appropriate level of care.
Seek Help Immediately!
If they convey that they are actively suicidal, you should get them to help immediately. If they have a therapist or psychiatrist, call them to ask if they have a crisis plan in place or what you should do. If they don’t have a therapist, you should take them to the hospital for an evaluation.
Ensure they see a therapist!
If your friend is depressed, but not actively suicidal, you should encourage them to see a therapist if they aren’t already. You can help by offering to research and make calls if they are not feeling up to finding a therapist themselves. You should also check in regularly to see how they are and make sure their symptoms have not escalated toward crisis.
Campus Mental Health and Wellness Center
Curtiss Hall 112