Simply being present with someone sends a message, “You are worth it and you are important to me.”
Don’t try to cheer someone up when they are depressed.
This can reinforce the depressed individual’s idea that no one understands and further cements them in
feelings of loneliness. Instead, acknowledge how painful or overwhelming life is for them.
Although it feels uncomfortable, rather than avoid the subject of suicide, it is better to come right out and ask,
“Are you thinking about killing yourself?” You may be afraid to hurt your loved one’s feelings but don’t be. This
is very rarely the case. And, you cannot increase a person’s risk of suicide by “planting” the idea in their head.
Take it seriously.
When someone mentions wanting to die or thinking about taking their own life, get assistance. Try to get
someone on the phone that can help (the person’s doctor or therapist or someone at a suicide hotline) or see
if your friend would be willing to go to the hospital. If necessary, call 911 and request a crisis intervention team
to come and handle the situation.
Offer practical help when you can.
Help them get to an appointment. Offer to help them find resources. Offer to help them with tasks that seem
overwhelming such as walking their dog or mowing the lawn. Many times the things you would do for someone
who is grieving a death are the exact things that mean the world to someone who is depressed and weary.
Practice self-care and set boundaries.
It is not okay for your loved one, regardless of how emotionally fragile they are, to be abusive to you in any way.
Let them know that you are aware of their pain but also that they cannot call you names, be disrespectful, or
physically harm you. It is also not okay for your friend to expect you to be available at the drop of a hat 24/7.
Explain to them clearly that you physically can’t be available to them 24/7 but you do want to be available to
support them. Tell them clearly when you are available.
Finally, believe in the possibility of change. Even when you feel that all options have been exhausted,
keep believing with the hopeless person that there is the hope of hope. If you continue to believe this,
it makes it easier for them to believe it. Then start over at square one and just show up.