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Friend attempted suicide - what can I do

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I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this or not, but I'm not sure what to do.

I got home from work today and my roommate told me that he had attempted suicide while I was gone. He's with his family right now, and hopefully his mom can talk him into seeking a psychologist, but what can I do to help?

I'm not very good at this type of discussion, but I want to help. How do I get past being angry and uncomfortable, and once past that what can I do?



Well-Known Member
just be really really understanding and offer support wherever possible. don't presume to understand what he is going through, and don't patronise him with suggestions like, "just cheer up" or "you need to get out more" he clearly has a serious problem and needs real help. The fact that you care is already a big help for him.


Staff Alumni
-remember to take care of yourself to...below is a list I cut n paste about what to do to help a friend whos suicidal, getting pass those feelings you have may take time, its ok, your allowed to feel anyway you want, their your feelings and they are worthy and valued....once you do find a way, I hope the note below helps....take care.... :hug:

What can I do to help someone who is suicidal?

Take it seriously.
Myth: “The people who talk about it don't do it.” Studies have found that more than 75% of all completed suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair. Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.

Myth: “Anyone who tries to kill himself has got to be crazy.” Perhaps 10% of all suicidal people are psychotic or have delusional beliefs about reality. Most suicidal people suffer from the recognized mental illness of depression; but many depressed people adequately manage their daily affairs. The absence of “craziness” does not mean the absence of suicide risk.

“Those problems weren't enough to commit suicide over,” is often said by people who knew a completed suicide. You cannot assume that because you feel something is not worth being suicidal about, that the person you are with feels the same way. It is not how bad the problem is, but how badly it's hurting the person who has it.

Remember: suicidal behavior is a cry for help.
Myth: “If a someone is going to kill himself, nothing can stop him.” The fact that a person is still alive is sufficient proof that part of him wants to remain alive. The suicidal person is ambivalent - part of him wants to live and part of him wants not so much death as he wants the pain to end. It is the part that wants to live that tells another “I feel suicidal.” If a suicidal person turns to you it is likely that he believes that you are more caring, more informed about coping with misfortune, and more willing to protect his confidentiality. No matter how negative the manner and content of his talk, he is doing a positive thing and has a positive view of you.

Be willing to give and get help sooner rather than later.
Suicide prevention is not a last minute activity. All textbooks on depression say it should be reached as soon as possible. Unfortunately, suicidal people are afraid that trying to get help may bring them more pain: being told they are stupid, foolish, sinful, or manipulative; rejection; punishment; suspension from school or job; written records of their condition; or involuntary commitment. You need to do everything you can to reduce pain, rather than increase or prolong it. Constructively involving yourself on the side of life as early as possible will reduce the risk of suicide.

Listen.Give the person every opportunity to unburden his troubles and ventilate his feelings. You don't need to say much and there are no magic words. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it. Give him relief from being alone with his pain; let him know you are glad he turned to you. Patience, sympathy, acceptance. Avoid arguments and advice giving.

ASK: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”
Myth: “Talking about it may give someone the idea.” People already have the idea; suicide is constantly in the news media. If you ask a despairing person this question you are doing a good thing for them: you are showing him that you care about him, that you take him seriously, and that you are willing to let him share his pain with you. You are giving him further opportunity to discharge pent up and painful feelings. If the person is having thoughts of suicide, find out how far along his ideation has progressed.

If the person is acutely suicidal, do not leave him alone.
If the means are present, try to get rid of them. Detoxify the home.

Urge professional help.
Persistence and patience may be needed to seek, engage and continue with as many options as possible. In any referral situation, let the person know you care and want to maintain contact.

No secrets.
It is the part of the person that is afraid of more pain that says “Don't tell anyone.” It is the part that wants to stay alive that tells you about it. Respond to that part of the person and persistently seek out a mature and compassionate person with whom you can review the situation. (You can get outside help and still protect the person from pain causing breaches of privacy.) Do not try to go it alone. Get help for the person and for yourself. Distributing the anxieties and responsibilities of suicide prevention makes it easier and much more effective.

From crisis to recovery.
Most people have suicidal thoughts or feelings at some point in their lives; yet less than 2% of all deaths are suicides. Nearly all suicidal people suffer from conditions that will pass with time or with the assistance of a recovery program. There are hundreds of modest steps we can take to improve our response to the suicidal and to make it easier for them to seek help. Taking these modest steps can save many lives and reduce a great deal of human suffering.

WARNING SIGNSConditions associated with increased risk of suicide
Death or terminal illness of relative or friend.
Divorce, separation, broken relationship, stress on family.
Loss of health (real or imaginary).
Loss of job, home, money, status, self-esteem, personal security.
Alcohol or drug abuse.
Depression. In the young depression may be masked by hyperactivity or acting out behavior. In the elderly it may be incorrectly attributed to the natural effects of aging. Depression that seems to quickly disappear for no apparent reason is cause for concern. The early stages of recovery from depression can be a high risk period. Recent studies have associated anxiety disorders with increased risk for attempted suicide.
Emotional and behavioral changes associated with suicide
Overwhelming Pain: pain that threatens to exceed the person's pain coping capacities. Suicidal feelings are often the result of longstanding problems that have been exacerbated by recent precipitating events. The precipitating factors may be new pain or the loss of pain coping resources.
Hopelessness: the feeling that the pain will continue or get worse; things will never get better.
Powerlessness: the feeling that one's resources for reducing pain are exhausted.
Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, self-hatred, “no one cares”. Fears of losing control, harming self or others.
Personality becomes sad, withdrawn, tired, apathetic, anxious, irritable, or prone to angry outbursts.
Declining performance in school, work, or other activities. (Occasionally the reverse: someone who volunteers for extra duties because they need to fill up their time.)
Social isolation; or association with a group that has different moral standards than those of the family.
Declining interest in sex, friends, or activities previously enjoyed.
Neglect of personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance.
Alterations in either direction in sleeping or eating habits.
(Particularly in the elderly) Self-starvation, dietary mismanagement, disobeying medical instructions.
Difficult times: holidays, anniversaries, and the first week after discharge from a hospital; just before and after diagnosis of a major illness; just before and during disciplinary proceedings. Undocumented status adds to the stress of a crisis.
Suicidal Behavior
Previous suicide attempts, “mini-attempts”.
Explicit statements of suicidal ideation or feelings.
Development of suicidal plan, acquiring the means, “rehearsal” behavior, setting a time for the attempt.
Self-inflicted injuries, such as cuts, burns, or head banging.
Reckless behavior. (Besides suicide, other leading causes of death among young people in New York City are homicide, accidents, drug overdose, and AIDS.) Unexplained accidents among children and the elderly.
Making out a will or giving away favorite possessions.
Inappropriately saying goodbye.
Verbal behavior that is ambiguous or indirect: “I'm going away on a real long trip.”, “You won't have to worry about me anymore.”, “I want to go to sleep and never wake up.”, “I'm so depressed, I just can't go on.”, “Does God punish suicides?”, “Voices are telling me to do bad things.”, requests for euthanasia information, inappropriate joking, stories or essays on morbid themes.

A WARNING ABOUT WARNING SIGNSThe majority of the population at any one time does not have many of the warning signs and has a lower suicide risk rate. But a lower rate in a larger population is still a lot of people - and many completed suicides had only a few of the conditions listed above. In a one person to another person situation, all indications of suicidality need to be taken seriously.


Just listen, that often helps a lot. Encourage, but dont PRESSURE him to do fun stuff - go out for meals/ watch a movie/ playstation/ whatever. If you mean it, and ONLY if you mean it, say you will always be there for him, let him know you care ONLY if you mean it (I am sure you do, I am just stressing this cos the worst thing you can do for someone who is down is to say something like I am always here if ur not prepared to be there when they really need you - even if its at 4am in the morning). DONT call him selfish or anything like that, he is NOT. Let him know what the world would be like without him - say - If you d died, we wouldnt have moments like this etc - but dont lecture him. Smile, be warm and nice. Think about what you d want if you were in a desperate situation. Remember, most people dont want to actually die, they are simply talking out of desperation - they cant see any solutions, or any hope, so theres no point , obviously.
Dont say "you need help" or anything like that - people interpret that as "so you think I am crazy?" - say, "mayb talking to someone you dont know would give you a better perspective on things/ someone who isnt emotionally involved may be able to offer a more balanced perspective".
I am only saying what I would have wanted from people, because I seriously thought about suicide. I planned the whole thing out, meticulously. But I couldnt carry it out - so I realised it wasnt that I wanted to die, just that I was desperate. Then I got drunk instead, as I was totally smashed, I phoned my mate and said I wanted to die and she should kill me etc etc and all I d ever wanted was to die and told people how I d planned it etc. Some people reacted well, others didnt. I know what I would have wanted from people. So I am kind of talking from experience. I think I told people when I was drunk cos subconsiously, I wanted someone to know how I was feeling cos I didnt want to die, like most people I want to survive whatever it takes and was clinging onto life with the very last straw.
Hope I helped anyway. And try ur best to think of how ur mates feeling, not how ur feeling - I imagine you must be hurt etc but put urself in his shoes. Thats REALLY important.
Take care


SF Supporter
Pretend in your mind that he did die. Imagine all the things you could have said to him to make him not do it if you had the chance. Then remember that he isnt dead, and that you have the chance.
Sensitivity helps but I know it's not easy guy to guy with all the machismo stuff. If you've not already, read jodi's list of what to look for thoroughly. Especially any sarcastic comments about suicide or death, theyre tell tale.
He's most definitly going to be depressed so he needs medical help at some stage. Find out more about depression and what it can do to people, so you can understand him better.
If you get talking to him, get him to talk about it, ask him questions to get him to open up.
He obviously told you for a reason. He mustnt want to die just yet or at all. I reckon from experience that he just cant find the strength to get help. Best question is, how long has he kept it to himself. If it's a long time then he is probably at breaking point if he never told a soul before now. Also, even if he has told his parents, still be there for him if you can.
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