How to talk to a friend who is having suicidal thoughts: tips to support them

Talking about suicide is a taboo subject in our society, but talking about it is by no means something to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about.

Maybe we think this is something that will hardly happen to us, that this suicide only happens to people who are very depressed, which is “easy” to see. However, many people have thoughts of suicide.

Know how to talk to a friend who is having suicidal thoughts or what you think you are havingIt is not easy (or comfortable to apply in practice), but prevention is better than coping with the loss of a loved one. Below we will see how to do this.

    How to talk to a friend with suicidal thoughts?

    We might not notice it, but the truth is that depression and the problems associated with it are a very common illness. Every day, as we walk down the street, we come across hundreds of people who may experience despair, deep sadness, helplessness and, more often than we would like to believe, thoughts of suicide. Whether it’s a friend, a family member or our neighbor, there are many who fantasize about the idea of ​​ending their life and, unfortunately, there are many who do.

    There are several causes that can cause a person to want to kill themselves, but that doesn’t make the problem any more obvious or easier to see. People who have these kinds of thoughts don’t share them like that and are even afraid that someone will notice. The society we live in means that while it is already difficult to talk about totally healthy and normal feelings, it is even more difficult to express something that is generally seen as something to be ashamed of.

    You don’t have to be a psychologist to help save a life from a person’s risk of suicide. Although they are ashamed to share their thoughts, what many of these patients want is for their fears and feelings to be heard without being judged. Many fear being seen as weak people, who take the “easy” path, but in reality, expressing their fears, their fears, their dissatisfaction with their lives makes them really courageous, and we, in fact. good friends, must listen to them and support them. We must do all we can to overcome your problem and change your outlook on life.

    What we will see throughout this article are a number of things to keep in mind when talking to someone who we think may be having thoughts of suicide. It might not be, as we thought it isn’t, but just asking someone if they want to end their life can help us avoid it.

    Far from popular belief, speaking openly about this problem can prevent you from ending your life.. In the event that this is not the case, although he may even be upset that he asked you, we will be relieved to see that he is not.

    His feelings are no shame

    When you talk to a friend with suicidal thoughts avoid treating the problem as a cause of shame and blaming the person. Suicide must be approached openly, because it is too big a problem to leave things in the inkwell. Discussing the problem openly is a protective factor, because the more you know what is really going on, the faster you can intervene. Additionally, if the person sees that someone cares about them, they may be more eager to live.

    This, unfortunately, is just the opposite of what many loved ones do. There are many parents, siblings, friends and other close people who explicitly tell anyone who has these kinds of thoughts not to tell others, not to worry about them, or to think what they are. not. Always well-meaning and worried, these people are unaware that their “advice” can make matters worse.

    Telling a person who is having suicidal thoughts not to talk about them openly makes them feel ashamed of having them., What they are already feeling. Plus, it makes them feel worse as they feel guilty for worrying those who already know it, which makes their depression even worse. To top it off, if more people accidentally know you’re having thoughts of suicide, you’ll feel worse because you couldn’t hide it. All of this increases your chances of killing yourself.

    As we have already mentioned, it is better to talk about it openly than to hide it. If the person wants to kill themselves, the best thing you can do to stop them from doing so is to find out as soon as possible. In case you aren’t having suicidal thoughts, we’ll just have asked a tricky question, nothing more. The belief that talking about suicide increases the chances that the comet is not true. The more we know about what is happening to you, the better it is and the more we can help you.

      Emotional intelligence: our best ally

      First, trying to understand a person having thoughts of suicide is difficult if they have never experienced such thoughts. However, it is not impossible and it does not mean that you do not understand it. A key aspect of understanding a friend with these types of thoughts and knowing how to help is put yourself in your shoes, make a mental effort to understand your situation and try to imagine what you want and what you don’t want to hear. In other words, cultivate emotional intelligence.

      Emotional intelligence is our best ally in tackling a question as delicate as that of wanting to commit suicide, but it also serves us for any other aspect of life directly linked to emotions. Not many people realize it, but we don’t all feel the same and experience things around us the same. You have to understand that everyone, with their personality and feelings, is different.

      Emotional intelligence as conceptualized today is understood as the ability to put two skills into practice. On the one hand, we have intrapersonal intelligence, which is the ability to understand, identify and deal with our own emotions, while on the other hand we have interpersonal intelligence, which is the ability to recognize, understand and understand the emotions of others.

      Both can be helpful in speaking openly with someone we suspect of having suicidal thoughts, but interpersonal relationships are especially helpful. Thanks to him, we can try to think about how we would feel, what would we not like to be told and how words, while well meant, can be painful or even make the situation worse. We need to think about the possible consequences of our approach to the problem.

      Empathy cannot be lacking. In addition, you have to try to put yourself in his shoes, try to take his own point of view, think about what led him to take an option as radical as that of wanting to commit suicide. From the outside it may seem like it isn’t either, but as we said, everyone is as they are and our lives are very different. The extreme hopelessness and sadness involved in depression doesn’t just happen, there is a compelling reason.

      Call in case of emergency

      Thoughts of suicide are not synonymous with impending suicide. There are even people who fantasize about his death and wonder what would happen if they decided to end their life, they would never do it. However, it is clear that just having such ideas in mind is not a very favorable thing. Having a friend tell us that he is having suicidal thoughts is a little worrying and intervenes as quickly as possible.

      If we talk about the problem with our friend and he tells us, explicitly and clearly, that he wants to kill himself and that he will do it soon, it is clear that we are facing an emergency. It is a matter of days, if not hours, for a loved one to end his or her own life. Therefore, what we need to do now is pick up a phone and call emergency services. If we are not close to someone who we think will kill themselves, we need to contact someone around them, give them advice and also call the police to tell him where he lives or where he is.

      In the event that he tells us that he is fantasizing or that he has thought about killing himself but does not seem to want to do it in the short term, we must also intervene. We must not lower our guard or believe that this is a phase, that when it has been “repaired” what worries him will be happy and content like a gin. We have to worry, but luckily we have more leeway compared to the previous case. Just because you’re not going to do it today doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan already made. There is a risk that life.

      We need to consult professional help such as a specialized psychologist, primary care and, also, information services so that they tell us how much we can help and what we can do (Hope phone: 717.003.717). We need to provide these professionals with all the data we have, details that we were able to clarify during our open conversation with him or her about his or her thoughts of suicide. All the data we can provide will help guide us and tell us what to do.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Weisner, L. (2020). How to talk to a suicidal friend. Retrieved from
      • Hjelmeland, H., Hawton, K., Nordvik, H., Bille-Brahe, U., De Leo, D., Fekete, S., Grad, O., Haring, C., Kerkhof, JF, Lönnqvist, J ., Michel, K., Renberg, ES, Schmidtke, A., Van Heeringen, K. and Wasserman, D. (2002). Why people participate in parasicide: a cross-cultural study of intentions. Suicidal and Life Threatening Behavior, 32 (4), 380-393.
      • Maris, RW, Berman, AL, Silverman. (2000). Complete manual on suicide. New York. The Guilford Press.
      • Silverman, MM (2006). The language of suicide. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior: Vol. 36, no. 5, pages 519-532.

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