How can I help others?

Introduction

Suicidal thoughts can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, both for the person experiencing them and for those attempting to support them. Knowing how to respond to someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts can make a significant impact on their life, and potentially even save it. In this lesson, we will explore practical ways to provide support to those experiencing suicidal thoughts. We will discuss how to listen actively, ask helpful questions, provide resources, and encourage the person to seek professional help. By the end of this lesson, you will have a greater understanding of how to be an effective support system for those struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Example Conversation

It might feel overwhelming to try and talk to someone who you might expect to have suicidal thoughts. We will start off with an example of how a conversation like this could potentially go. This conversation will then inform tips and techniques that were experienced as helpful. 

Helpful Tips from the Example Conversation

As we said above, we’ll now have a look at what went well in the conversation above, so that we can use that information to feel more confident having conversations with people we’d like to support.

Start the conversation by expressing your genuine concern for your friend’s well-being. Let them know that you care about them and are there to support them.

Be an active listener. Let your friend talk at their own pace, and don’t interrupt. This allows them to express their feelings and thoughts without feeling rushed.

If your friend mentions suicidal thoughts or seems to be in crisis, encourage them to seek professional help. This could involve contacting a mental health crisis line, therapist, or counselor. Make it clear that you’re willing to assist them in finding the right help. If you’re unsure where to go to find the right type of support, please click here.

Reiterate your support throughout the conversation. Let your friend know that you’re there for them, no matter what they’re going through. Make sure they know that this support is ongoing and not just for this moment.

Acknowledge your friend’s feelings and experiences. Let them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do and that you understand it can be tough.

Reassure your friend that seeking help is a brave step and a positive move toward improving their situation. Encourage them to take this step.

The conversation showed that they touched upon some of the problems causing this, but that they would look at this together at a later date. Initially, it is better to check the cause but not go into advice mode. The person experiencing the thoughts has often already thought of many different solutions and it could feel dismissive.

Conclusion

Supporting someone with suicidal thoughts can be challenging but important work. Remember to be present, non-judgmental, and empathetic when communicating with someone who may be struggling. Listen actively, encourage them to seek professional support, and don’t hesitate to contact emergency services if necessary.

However, it’s also important to remember that supporting someone who is struggling can impact our own mental health and well-being. Practicing self-care after a conversation is crucial in order to avoid burnout or secondary traumatization. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to better care for others in the long run. Feel free to browse our resources in the library for this.

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