Recognizing when a friend is not doing well or in emotional distress can be difficult. Knowing the warning signs and the steps you can take to help support and assist a friend in need may make a huge difference for your friend. It is very important that you pay attention to any dramatic shifts in how a friend is behaving whether in-person or through social networks (posts, tweets, messages, photos, links, etc.). What your friend says and doesn’t say, how emotional they are in their communication, along with message frequency can also be important in determining if you have a friend in need of help and whether you should be concerned about the risk of self-harm or suicide.
How to Help
A person in emotional distress often feels completely alone and like no one cares about them. If you’ve noticed that a friend may be struggling, connect and let her/him know you are worried.
- Phone, text, or message her/him online.
- Be specific about why you’re worried. “I saw what you posted last night about feeling alone. Do you want to talk about it?”
- Ask if there is anything you can do to help.
- If your friend does not want to talk to you about what’s going on, encourage her/him to talk with someone. This could be another friend, parent or safe adult.
- Provide your friend with information on Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), an anonymous and confidential counselling service.
- Check in with your friend on a regular basis until you feel s/he is in a better place.
If, at any point, you feel that you need help supporting your friend, talk to a safe adult like a school counselor, parent or contact Kids Help Phone.
“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
— Nido Qubein