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What can you do to help

Dealing with a friend who's depressed or suicidal isn't easy. You probably haven't come across this situation before, and may be scared - scared for what could happen to your friend, and scared about doing or saying the wrong thing. Here are 10 things to remember.

1Be yourself. Don't worry about finding the "right words." If you're concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

2 Listen. Let your friend share their sadness, anger, confusion, loneliness - whatever they're feeling. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it's happening is positive. Talking about their problems gives people relief, awareness that another person cares, and a feeling of being understood. That can get someone through a bad moment

3 Be sympathetic. The conversation is a cry for help. Take it seriously. Be the shoulder to lean on. Make plans to connect again the next day. Reinforce that you're there for them, and you care that they stay alive. Reinforce that no matter how awful the problems seem, they can be worked out, and you're willing to help.

4Avoid judgments and arguments. Don't dismiss their feelings ("You're making a big deal over nothing"), don't lecture them about all the reasons they have to live, and don't even try to solve their problems. This isn't about how bad you think a problem is, but how badly it's hurting the person who has it.

5 Don't be afraid of the "s" word. If the person says something like "I don't know if I can go on," come right out and ask if they've been thinking of suicide. You're not putting ideas in their head. You're showing your concern, and that you take your friend seriously. Getting the word "suicide" out in the open may help your friend think someone has heard their cries for help.

6Find out if they're in immediate risk. If your friend has considered suicide, try to learn if they've thought about the plan (how they'd do it), the means (do they have what it takes to do it), and the time (when they'd do it). The more detailed the plan is the greater the risk. Be especially concerned if your friend has been using drugs and/or alcohol, because it can impair their judgment.


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