What to do when you help someone who is struggling
Questions you can ask:
- How can I best support you right now?
- When you have experienced difculties in the past, what has helped?
Things you can say:
- You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
- While I might not understand exactly how you feel, I care about you and I want to help.
- Share information about resources (below).
Listen without judgment:
- Remain patient and accepting. The conversation might seem negative and uncomfortable, but talking is always a positive step.
- It’s not about saying exactly the right words. The important thing to do is show that you care.
If necessary, you should call 911 -- explain what to expect after 911 is called:
Except in cases of medical emergency, the police will respond.
Typically there will be one to two squad cars. The oficers will want to have a conversation to understand the situation and the needs of the student.
The police will transport student to the hospital if needed (not an ambulance).
Police oficers care first and foremost about your safety and are here to support students in these dificult situations. Explain to the student that they are not in trouble.
Use the Do's & Dont's
Talking with and finding help for someone that may be suicidal can be difficult. Here are some tips that may help.
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, like weapons or pills.
- Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.