One of my best friends at school has been talking about taking her own life. What should I do?
If your friend has mentioned thoughts of suicide, you need to tell someone, even if you promised not to say anything about this. He may get upset, but you can gently let him know that saving his life is more important than keeping this secret.
After that, calmly tell him that he needs to get help from a responsible, caring adult - preferably his mom or dad - or a trustworthy teacher, pastor, counselor, coach, youth leader, neighbor, or friend with whom he can share his feelings and problems. Ask him if there's someone he feels close to, and who he can comfortably confide in. Then go with him to see that person, and don't leave until you're sure the individual has his best interests at heart and won't allow him to harm himself in any way.
At that point you may need to think about your emotional needs. In the process of taking care of a hurting friend, it's easy to forget about your own feelings. You're in the middle of a difficult situation, and you should ask yourself a few questions. How have your friend's concerns made you feel? Are you worried or confused? Do you blame yourself for his problems? Do you feel as if it's up to you to save his life?
Regardless of your answers to these questions, we encourage you to turn to God for help. You could also ask for some support from a pastor, youth leader, or professional counselor. Remember, too, that you can't control your friend's thoughts or actions no matter how much you care about him. You can only do your best to point him in the right direction and then leave him in the Lord's hands.
In the meantime, please feel free to contact Focus on the Family's Counseling Department. One of our caring Christian therapists would be happy to discuss this situation with you at greater length. Our counselors are also in a position to provide you with a list of referrals to mental health professionals practicing in your local area. If this option appeals to you, feel free to give them a call at this number.
My Friend Is Struggling with Thoughts of Suicide (book)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
National Alliance on Mental Illness - 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) is a national organization that helps with depression and issues related to mental illness which also provides referrals to help.
New Hope Telephone Counseling Center - 1-714-NEW-HOPE (639-4673) is a 24-hour, Christian counseling service.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) - SAMHSA provides national resources for suicide prevention, depression, mental illness and substance abuse issues.
Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program - A community-based program offering help for teens, parents and survivors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if in crisis.
When You Feel Hopeless