If you're worried a friend might be contemplating suicide, here's what you can do to help:
Signs that your friend might need help
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Change in appetite.
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Giving things away.
- Feeling sad or depressed for more than 2 weeks.
If you suspect a friend is depressed or thinking of suicide…ask. Simply asking will NOT give your friend the idea to commit suicide (a myth). Most depressed people have already had thoughts about death or suicide. They may actually be relieved you are asking questions like:
- I’ve notice that you’ve seemed down and have been keeping to yourself lately. What’s wrong?
- Are you thinking of death or suicide?
- Have you had thoughts of harming or killing yourself?
Active listening can be more helpful than talking. Take the person’s problem seriously. 75% of people who actually commit suicide hint they may have a plan to do so.
A person who is drunk or high may be more likely to act on suicidal thoughts. Be vigilant to this reality.
Do not panic. Not only will you keep a clearer head, but you may have a positive effect in terms of helping the troubled person articulate his/her feelings.
Be Yourself (Genuine)
Try to avoid “trite” comments, like “It will get better”, or “You have so much to live for.” These statements have been found to not be very helpful. Rather, speak out of genuine love and concern and show how much you care for the person.
Even if your friend tries to put you off, stay in touch. Reach out. Invite the person to do things with you. Remember…tell the person how much you care.
Encourage Professional Assistance
Encourage your friend to seek professional help. You do not have to handle the situation alone. If your friend goes to Lindenwood, contact:
The Wellness Center: Student Counseling Services, at 636-949-4522. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. (…and you can always call in order to get support and direction)
Keep your friend alive
If all else fails, contact Campus Security or call 911. It’s better to have your friend angry at you for doing so rather than being dead. If you are not with your friend during the crisis, but in contact by phone or online, encourage the friend who is suicidal to call 911 on their own, or encourage the person to call one of the BHR Crisis Hotline Numbers: 314-469-6644; 1-800-811-4760; 314-469-3638.
Address your own needs
Helping a distressed friend can be stressful, draining, and frustrating. It may be useful for you to talk to someone at Student Counseling Services after you have been through this type of experience. Remember: ultimately, you are not responsible for another person’s actions.