Don’t panic! GrowStrongKC is here to help!
It can be tough to know what to do in moments of crisis. A lot can happen fast, so it’s important to keep a cool head and remember these steps to help a friend in need.
The first thing you want to do is talk to your friend about your concerns. Ask questions and listen nonjudgmentally to show you genuinely care and want to understand. If you think your friend may be suicidal, ask the person, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” A common myth about suicide is that bringing it up might suddenly put the idea of sucide in someone’s head. You can read more on asking about suicide in Does Asking About Suicide Increase the Risk for Suicide?.
If they answer “yes,” make sure to ask if they have a plan, such as how, when and where they would take their life. If they have already made a plan, seek immediate help by reaching out to an adult.
Also ask yourself about potential risk factors. Do you know if they have had mental health challenges in the past? Have they been using alcohol and other drugs? Have you noticed signs of bullying or self-harm? These can increase a person’s risk for suicide and lead to other medical emergencies like a drug overdose.
Next, let your friend know that you are concerned about them and want to help. If you think they are at immediate risk of harming themselves or others, let a trusted adult know so they can connect them to a professional that can help.
You don’t need to know exactly what to say when someone is sharing deep feelings with you. Just remember that if you are worried about a friend’s safety, NEVER keep it a secret, especially if they are at risk of suicide. Let a trusted adult know as soon as possible. Don’t know who to tell about your concerns? Text HOME to 741741, Crisis Text Line or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The last step is to take care of yourself. It can be hard to help others if we don’t take care of ourselves. Make sure to practice self-care, healthy coping skills, and consider talking to someone about your experience.