Responding to A Friend In Crisis

Post by From Outside The Mall

“Often times, friends and acquaintances reach out to me when they are in a mental health crisis. Sometimes, they don’t live in a country where there are 24×7 distress lines. I understand that it can be a scary situation for us when that happens. I just wanted to list some of the things that have helped me in the past.”

1. Thank you for trusting me. (OR) I am so glad you thought of me.

2. I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. (OR) It must be hard to feel this way.

3. I can’t make your problems go away, but I promise to listen.

4. Feel free to share as much or as little as you’d like.

5. It must be very hard to go through this. I am glad you are seeking the support you need.

6. The fact that you’re seeking support tells me you want to feel better.

7. Are you having thoughts of suicide? (If they say yes, ask – how might you do it? On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to carry out this plan?)

8. Are you feeling safe right now? (If they say no, probe – can I or can I call someone to come be with you at this point. What would help you feel safe? Depending on their answer – see what you can do.)

9. Can I stay with you (here/over the phone) till the feeling passes? Can we take one of your other friends/parent/sibling into confidence? Not too many people, but just one more person – so that we are all safe.

10. I am so glad you thought of me. Thank you for sharing your pain with me. Reach out to me as often as you’d like. (Don’t say the last sentence if you do not want them to call you.)

Before you leave, an important message from my friend, Rina, who is a clinician in the UK:

“Do not be angry or upset with them or give them idealist advice about how they should feel when they tell you their difficulties or suicidal feelings. Do not expect them to snap out of it in a time limited period cause you don’t have more time or you can’t bear it.”

Please feel free to share some of the things you’ve said to make someone feel comfortable in such a situation. I will add them to this post and give you credit. Thanks.

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