If you are worried that your friend is planning to commit suicide, or they are self-harming in other ways, then these are serious issues.
Some indications of suicide include:
- lack of interest
- lack of energy
- change in weight
- physical health complaints
- emotional outbursts
- risky behaviours
- dropping out of studies or social activities
- putting affairs in order
- talking about death, talking about ‘not being around’ or talking about suicide
Although this might feel uncomfortable, the best thing is to ask your friend directly,
“Are you considering committing suicide?”
“Have you thought about suicide?”
“Do you hurt yourself, or have you ever deliberately hurt yourself??
“How do you hurt yourself?”
- make sure you listen to their response
- remind them of the reasons why they are your friend, i.e. you care about them, you accept them as a person, you feel cared for by them.
- you are concerned about the way they are feeling
- encourage them to talk about the issues (refer to the section on speaking to a friend)
- being a good listener encourages people to talk to you
- listen and let them talk much more than you
- let them know that you want to help them to change what they are feeling.
At this point, after you have heard their story and you have a good picture of what is going on, you might be able to suggest helping them to make an appointment to see a medical specialist (General Practitioner), calling a mental health service, or enlisting other helpful people. As a friend you might like to do some internet searching to see what is available in your area, state or country and letting your friend now that you would like to do this to help them.
Depending on the reasons for the suicidal feelings and self-harm there may be other things that you can do or suggest, e.g. if abuse is involved then check under the Abuse category for further suggestions. There is quite a lot of very useful information on the web about suicide and young adults (e.g. in Australia try Lifeline).
If you are in a situation where there is an immediate danger of death then it is advisable to call an ambulance or a specialist in mental health (e.g. General Practitioner, crisis mental health teams). Check in with your friend to see how they are doing as soon as you can.