Are you afraid of your friend’s suicidal thoughts? Is he/she talking about suicide?
That’s something nobody wants to hear. If you do, it’s not too late to take a step to save your suicidal friend.
According to WHO’s first report on suicide prevention, on average, for every 40 seconds, there is one suicide.
By 2020, it is estimated that there will be one, for every 20 seconds.
Sometimes, giving up might seem like the only answer. A Mental breakdown can be due to failure at love, failure in career, or a financial failure. They are clouds in the sky.
But remember that the sky is much bigger than the clouds. All you should do is Wait. Until the clouds pass.
The risk factors maybe depression, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, social isolation, loneliness, recent loss of something, trauma or sexual abuse.
So, what you should really be doing to save your friend when he goes nuts?
- Smell fishes
- Get into his/her shoes
- Don’t slap. But talk.
- Oh God, now what?
Step 1: Smell Fishes
It’s not a big deal to smell fishes, to know that your friend is hiding something from you.
You cannot expect that your friend will talk to you about his bad thoughts, especially when he’s on a mental breakdown. But, he definitely will give clues.
As a friend, you might know where he’s going in life. What’s happening with his life… at least by bits and pieces?
Here’s how to be Sherlock Holmes:
- Is he/she frequently thinking about the same problem?
- Is he/she trying his best to get over something and couldn’t?
- Is he/she losing his focus on whatever he’s doing (like now and then)?
- Is he/she having extreme mood swings or acting weird (as a friend, only you know what’s weird)?
- Is he/she avoiding people and deliberately seeking for isolation?
- Is he/she talking rubbish (You know what rubbish is)?
- Is he/she buying weapons or drugs?
- Is he/she skipping meals often or is there any drastic change in habits?
- Is he/she complaining about family or relationship issues?
- Is he/she constantly posting depressing quotes on social media? (You never know, even this can be a hint. Let’s not take chance).
So, if you just said Yes to any of the above. It’s time to get serious over the issue. It’s time to get into his shoes.
Step 2: Get into his/her shoes
Understanding your friend (completely) can happen only when you get into his shoes—only when you start seeing things through his eyes.
Once you get a hint of what’s happening with him. Get deep into his problem.
Is there any other solution to that problem? Think of it.
It happens often that people overlook solutions when they are too deep into a problem. So, there might be solutions which your friend cannot see.
If you find a solution, don’t offer them quickly. In most cases, the state of mind of a suicidal friend is that he doesn’t want a solution. He isn’t ready to accept that his problem can be solved. So, belittling them or their problems might not work.
Don’t judge, even though his problem or reasons seem silly.
Instead, accept him. Accept his problem and situation. Show empathy. Give a hug and tell, ‘I get your problem bro.’ Or ‘Yeah I know how it feels.’
Understanding your friend will greatly console him and make him more comfortable. Our goal isn’t about giving a quick solution but to make your friend feel warm by getting into his shoes.
Once you get hold of the situation, Talk.
Step 3: Don’t Slap. But Talk
Being rude to your friend is not advised. Yelling at them or hitting them will only make it worse. But if you really feel that a slap can make things right, just do. (You know your friend better).
Anyone with such thoughts signifies that they are giving up. It means that they just can’t take it anymore. So, being harsh will amplify their feeling. The best thing, you can do is to Talk.
Your ultimate goal is to convince or persuade your friend to talk. Let him talk.
If he really starts speaking about his problems, sharing it with you, that’s half success. Talking is a kind of therapy which unburdens one’s thoughts and emotions. When they break out during a talk, let them.
Give space for them to cry. Give space for them to express their deeper emotions. Listen to every sigh. Talk their hand. Give them strength.
And then start discussing the solutions. Tell them what they can hope for, what they can look for.
- Tell them a dummy story where your miserable life changed to a fairytale overnight.
- Crack jokes.
- Focus on what can go right.
- Tell them they have a secret admirer on Instagram (Even if they don’t).
- Tell them a relatable story of someone successful who went through the same problem.
- Remind them of their capabilities and what they can do.
- Tell nothing. (Sometimes silence is the best advice).
Tell them whatever, but with two things in mind.
1) Don’t go against them. Don’t argue.
2) Tell solutions from their point of view. Never make them feel inferior.
Despite all these efforts, sometimes things can slip out of our hands. If it becomes almost impossible for your friends to convince, then take the final step.
Step 4: Oh God! Now what?
It’s important that you do not panic. All through the process you’ve to take strong stand. You tried your best and it’s not working, then. Take Action.
- Buy them their favourite food.
- Gift them a chocolate or what they love. (Make a small surprise).
- Write a letter to them, recalling all the beautiful days you had together. And what he really means to you.
- Cheer him up by hanging out.
- Get him a beer.
Do things which show them a reason to live.
DO NOT, at any cost leave your friend alone. Keep an eye. Check if they already have a plan, or weapons to kill.
Finally, Call a Suicide Prevention helplines known as Suicide Crisis lines.
WHAT TO DO IF MY SUICIDAL FRIEND IS ON A PHONE CALL?
If you get to know about your friends deteriorating mental health on a phone call, you hardly have any time to get all these done.
Handle the call with all the strength and compassion. Do not overreact and mess up things. Here’s what you can do.
First, listen to your friend. Let his anguish ventilate. Let his depression unburden. No matter however negative the call may be, it’s a positive sign that the call is still on.
Sympathize and Empathize.
Let him feel comfortable by understanding to whatever he says and offer your support.
Do not argue or violate the conversation but keep it as smooth and transparent as possible.
Do not judge.
Do not humiliate.
Do not give quick advice.
Have no fear to ask your friend, “Are you having any suicidal thoughts?” Do not assume that you are giving an idea (if he isn’t really thinking of it).
Ask if he has such thoughts.
Ask if he has a plan.
If there’s a plan, ask when. Ask how.
Your asking shouldn’t sound like a crime investigation but as friendly as possible. Be kind. Ask with concern.
Suicidal thoughts are often temporary. They don’t last long. If a phone call is handled well, you can drift your friend’s focus from hurting himself.
Yet, if you think that the situation is out of control during the call. Contact someone nearby him—his parents, friends or neighbors. You can rush, if possible.
Sooner or Later, once if you smell something is wrong with your friend, google for a local suicide prevention hotline or contact a mental health therapist.
A thought once crossed mind, might cross again. So, have enough attention on your depressed friends and try your best to be responsible.
Your little talks, little actions, can save someone.