Talking To Someone You Fear May Be Suicidal

Posted By: on March 29, 2018

4 Recommendations from Counseling Professionals.  

Addressing the topic of suicide can be intimidating — but opting not to shy away from such a difficult conversation is a mark of true friendship, and it could literally save a life. Before initiating such a discussion, however, you may wish to arm yourself with a few psychological tools that can help you form a deeper connection with the person you are trying to help. Here are four tips that can help:

1. Practice Active Listening.

Giving the speaker 100% of your attention, withholding judgment, reflecting on what is being said, and demonstrating your attentiveness by summarizing the speaker’s main points are all central tenants of active listening. As simple as it may sound, active listening can help make your conversation much more impactful for both you and the person you are talking with.

2. Avoid Arguing.

This is one of the most common mistakes committed by well-meaning people every day. When someone you care about shares feeling of sadness or loneliness, it can be very tempting to counter with something like “how can you be sad when there are so many good things in your life?” or “why do you feel lonely when so many people love you?” The problem with these types of responses is that they make the person you are talking with feel that you do not understand their emotions, or even that their emotions are not valid.

3. Help the Person See Their Value.

A healthier alternative to arguing: “I understand why you feel that way, and I’m sorry to hear that. But I do want you to know that I’m here, and I care about you. You’re a wonderful person because XYZ and I am very glad to have you in my life.”

4. Help The Person to Find Appropriate Professional Guidance. If you fear the person you are speaking with may be an immediate danger to themselves, then you should contact emergency services immediately. If you feel confident that this is not the case, then you should help the person to find psychological support from a professional.

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