Even if your friend hasn’t asked for help specifically, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t signs that they need help. Most teens who make a suicide attempt don’t really want to die, but they do want the pain to stop. It is important to understand that your friend probably does want help, but doesn’t know how to ask. A suicidal person is so lost in the pain they are experiencing that there seems to be no way out except to die. As their peer or their friend, you might be in the best position to first notice the signals and be able to help. You might see these signals on social media, or hear them second hand through friends. Your friend who is in danger may talk about their fears and pain to you directly. These are cries for help, please don’t ever ignore them. If you listen to your friend and take action, you could save a life. Suicide is preventable.
Signs to Watch For:
- Preoccupation with death
- Feelings of extreme hopelessness, not having any hope for the future
- Talking about suicide including statements like “I wish I hadn’t been born”, If I see you again…” and “No one will miss me if I was gone.”
- Saying goodbye and acting as if they will never see people again
- Feelings of self-loathing or self-hatred are often coupled with feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt.
Threats come in various forms including direct statements like “I am going to kill myself,” or indirect comments like “Everyone will be better off without me.” Look for these threats to come out in jokes, creative writing or artwork school assignments and social media.
Dramatic changes are a big indicator and take on many forms including withdrawing suddenly from family and friends, skipping classes, forgetting conversations or appointments, dropping out of sports or other hobbies they had enjoyed before.
Making suicide plans and giving away prized possessions is a huge red flag
What Can you Do to Help a Friend You think Might be Suicidal?
- Be familiar with the warning signs
- Talk to your friend! Talking to them will not implant the idea of suicide if they were not already thinking about it.
- Never keep it a secret or make a deal. This is will not help your friend, telling an adult you can trust is the best thing you can do. Do it as soon as you think there may be a danger, don’t wait!
- Find out if your school has a crisis team. These are teams of trained teachers, counselors, principals etc., that can help you and your friend get help.
If you think your friend is suicidal, you don’t have to carry that burden alone. There are resources out there to help you. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). You can also walk into a psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic, emergency room or an urgent care center.