It’s okay to feel scared
If a mate tells you suicide is on their mind it can feel very scary. Remember this is a normal human feeling. We want our friends to stay alive and having this kind of conversation can feel very scary for everyone, even me, and I’m a counsellor! You don’t have to hide that you’re scared, as showing your emotions will show your friend how much you care.
It’s okay to not know what to say
Not knowing what to say is a very human response. You are very likely feeling a lot of different emotions in that moment, like shock, fear and sadness. It’s good to remember, though, that there’s no perfect script of what to say.
Try to focus on listening. Your friend has told you this so it’s likely they want to tell you more about how they’re feeling. By listening, you show you care and your friend may well feel less burdened with this secret.
It’s a myth that people who talk about suicide are not serious. However, although most won’t actually act out their thoughts, their feelings of wanting to die could be very real.
It’s not your fault
Don’t blame yourself if you’ve had an argument. We’re not responsible for other people and how they might react. People often think about suicide when loads of things have gone wrong all at once and they’re finding it difficult to cope and see a future. So it’s very likely there’s more going on in your friend’s life than just that one thing.
A part of your friend wants to live
The fact that they’re confiding in you means a part of them wants to live. Your friend has some hope left to live and just needs some help to build up that hope.
You are not alone
It’s okay to reach out and get support for yourself at this difficult time. You’ve probably heard of the free helpline The Samaritans, but did you know they also support people worried about someone else who is thinking about suicide?
The Samaritans (open all day every day): call free 116 123
Help is Available
Help is available for your friend. Try to encourage your friend to talk to more people so you’re not both isolated with this. Remind your friend that they could talk to their GP or mental health worker (if they have one) or try to get some counselling. You may want to offer to go with them to an appointment with a professional. There are also loads of free resources online. Some free resources include:
Prevention of young suicide, for the under 35s
Stay Alive app
CALM helpline (The Campaign Against Living Miserably)
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.