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Help Someone Who Is Suicidal

Updated on October 18, 2011

Trying to help someone who is suicidal is not an easy task. You will need a great deal of help yourself but by reading this, you have shown that you are indeed the right person for the job. Good luck!

Your friend has come to you because he feels that you are someone they can trust and they believe you can help them in some way. Helping someone who is suicidal requires a calm and patient attitude, as well as a bit of time.

Your role right now is to offer comfort and support to your friend. You're not a trained counsellor and your friend will appreciate this so you will not be expected to help cure him of his suicidal thoughts. What is expected of you right now is for you to listen to your friend and not cast any judgement over him. You should think of yourself as a kind of First Aider but for someone who is emotionally hurt.

Right now, your friend will be feeling a huge range of emotions and may well be confused by all of them. Find somewhere quiet where you know you will not be disturbed and let your friend talk about what exactly is wrong. Remind your friend that what he says to you will be kept strictly confidential.

Be patient and allow him time to get out what he has to say. Listen to what your friend has to say and remain calm at all times. By showing a calm face, you will be providing a great deal of reassurance that everything will be OK.

Right now you can potentially do a lot to help someone who is suicidal but you can also do a lot to make things worse. Your friend cannot help how he feels and so you need to resist the urge to tell him to "snap out of it" or "get a grip". Remind your friend of all the positive things he has in his life.

Ask what YOU, as his friend, can do to help him. He may already have an idea.

Depending on how severe the situation is, you may have to keep your friend safe until you can get him the right help. Right now, your friend's number one enemy is unfortunately himself, given his risk of suicide. Offer to stay with him or offer him a place to stay with you.

If your friend hasn't done so already, he will need to see his GP. In the UK you can ask for an emergency appointment which you can get within 24 hours, sometimes even the same day. Prior to the appointment, offer to go to the GP with your friend. Even if you just sit outside, having someone waiting for him afterwards will be a great help.

After your friend has seen his GP, he will most likely suggest having counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), a form of counselling. He may also be prescribed a dose of anti-depressants such as Duloxetine, Citalopram or Escitalopram. It is very rare for patients to be admitted to hospital so reassure your friend that he won't be taken away by the "men in white coats". Unless he wants them to...

At this stage, it is important to keep in close contact with your friend and encourage him to talk to others about his suicidal thoughts. Some people will feel uncomfortable and shy away from this but his true friends will want to listen to him. It will help him to talk about his feelings but will also help others to understand why he is not himself at the moment.

If the person you are trying to help with their suicidal thoughts is ever in immediate danger and you feel he has done something to harm himself (or is about to), you MUST INFORM THE EMERGENCY SERVICES. NOW!

Thanks for reading.

Have YOU ever suffered from depression?

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    • tangoshoes profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this hub. Many folks simply think that someone who is depressed will just magically come out of it. The problem comes with prolonged depression with suicidal thoughts. Often times people are so sick of being told "I'm sure you'll feel better soon" they have no one to turn to when things get worse.


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