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Warning Signs of Suicide and How to Help a Friend

Topics: Suicide, Emotional Health

In a recent survey we did for our campaign with MTV, 20 percent of students said they had a friend who had talked about wanting to end their life within the last year. If you are concerned that a friend is thinking about suicide, don’t hesitate to ask them directly if they’re having thoughts of suicide. Let them know they aren’t alone in confronting their problems. Below are some signs that your friend needs help right away.

• Talking or writing about suicide or death, saying:

“My life isn’t worth living.” “I wish I were dead.” “I can’t take this anymore.” “I don’t want to live anymore.” “My life has no meaning.”

• Gathering things they can use to hurt themselves with, such as medication or a weapon

• Giving away their possessions

• Threatening suicide or talking about a plan

If your friend is exhibiting these signs:

• Stay with your friend. Never leave them alone.

• Call the RA, counseling center or 9-1-1 for assistance. Wait with your friend until they arrive. You can also walk with your friend to the center. If your friend has taken pills or is threatening to harm themselves, call 9-1-1 immediately.

• When talking to your friend, avoid rationalizing the situation. Instead, empathize. While you might not be able to understand what your friend is going through, be compassionate and listen, without minimizing their feelings.

• Don’t keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Your friend might ask you not to tell anyone about these thoughts but keeping them a secret is dangerous. Again, talk to the counseling center to get advice on how to help your friend.