For youth: How to ask for help
Don’t blame yourself! Being unwell, whether physically or mentally, is not a sign of weakness or failure. Looking and asking for help is a sign of strength. As difficult as it is, the first step to finding solutions other than suicide is to ask for help.
Help is always available!
Talking to a parent, teacher, counselor, doctor, or other trusted adult.
What if They Don’t Understand?
What if the person you tell doesn’t get it? What if they don’t understand how much you are hurting? The most important thing is for you to get help.
Try to make them understand how bad you are hurting and that your thoughts of suicide are real. Tell them you need help. If they still don’t get it, don’t give up. Sometimes people aren’t in a good place to help others, or they may be afraid. In other words, it’s not you, it’s them. So don’t give up – talk to someone else. Your life is so important!
How to help a friendAll suicidal thoughts or threats must be taken seriously. If you are concerned about someone, tell an adult about it or call Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868.
If your friend is thinking about suicide, do not keep a secret. You need to tell an adult who can help, even if your friend will be upset with you. It is better to have someone who is angry with you than having to cope with their death.
You can help a friend in so many ways, including:
What to say to a friend who has opened up to you about their suicidal thoughts:
“I’m sorry to hear you’re going through such a rough time, and I’m here for you. But we need to tell someone else how you’re feeling. I can come with you to see the school counselor if you want?”
“It sounds like things are really hard for you right now. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I know things will get better! Let’s text the distress center to see what resources they might have that could help. I’m so glad you told me how you’re feeling, I’ve been really worried about you! I feel like it’s a good idea to talk to your parents, too. Want me to come with?”
How do I know if someone is suicidal?
There are certain things people who are suicidal may say or do to indicate their thoughts. Be on the lookout for the warning signs!
Things they’re doing
Watch for ANY significant changes in behavior.
Things they’re saying
People who are suicidal will say things that indicate they are in pain and want help. Everyone feels these things at some time or another, but when these feelings start interfering with our lives, we need to seek help.
These feelings, and some of the things the suicidal person might say include:
I know someone who died by suicide
Losing someone to suicide is an incredible loss. No one is ever prepared for it. The aftermath is often clouded by the misconceptions and stigma that surround both mental illness and suicide.
If you are coping with the loss of a friend to suicide, you may have lots of questions. Find answers and support
Participating in a peer to peer support group with others who are going through the same experience will be an important step toward managing your grief. Find a support group
Find more resources for coping with suicide loss
Myths and Facts
Talking about suicide will give my friend the idea to attempt suicide.
Talking about suicide does not cause people to think about killing themselves. Asking about suicide gives them the opportunity to speak openly about what’s going on and shows your friend that you care about them!
Suicide happens without warning.
Even when suicidal behaviour seems impulsive, there have usually been prior warning signs and behaviours.
If my friend is suicidal now, they will be suicidal forever.
No, your friend’s suicidal thoughts may be related to a temporary situation that is causing them great stress or emotional pain. These feelings will pass especially if they have help working through them.
My friend will be angry if I try to help them.
Your friend might become angry or defensive because of embarrassment or shame or feeling that they do not need help. Even if your friend doesn’t accept help, you need to tell an adult you trust that your friend is suicidal.
My friend seems to be feeling better so they are no longer at risk.
Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. Sometimes when people act like everything is okay, or they act happy after a long period of sadness, they are still struggling. Make sure that an adult knows that your friend is/was struggling with thoughts of suicide.
People who are suicidal want to die.
Most people who die by suicide do not want to die. They simply want the pain of living to stop.
Bullying causes suicide.
There is rarely just one factor that will cause someone to think of suicide. People who think of suicide are usually experiencing many negative things, not just one. On the flip side, it only takes one positive thing to prevent people from thinking of suicide. For example, if someone has even one good relationship or one activity that they really love, or if they have one really great personality trait like high self-esteem, this can prevent them from considering suicide at all.
People who are lesbian, gay, transgendered, or questioning their sexuality have a high risk of suicide throughout their lives.
LGBTQ youth are more at risk of suicide than other youth, but their risk drops when they become adults. This is because adults generally are more accepting of who they are, and they’ve usually built up friendships with people who accept them, too.
Risk and Protective Factors
There are certain factors that can put one person more at risk or less at risk of suicide than another, though it is important to remember that anyone can be at risk of suicide.