A friend is having trouble sleeping and isn’t leaving home much any more.
She’s always late, when she used to pride herself on punctuality.
You notice the empty bottles of alcohol in her trash can.
She’s quick to anger, and fast to tears.
Something just seems off.
“Are you ok?” you ask. And the answer is always “I’m fine.”
But deep in your heart you know it’s not fine. Something is terribly wrong. But you’re afraid to ask further.
Maybe you fear that asking will only make things worse. That intruding will push her away. That if you ask the real and hard questions, she’ll go even further down the wrong path.
But you are mistaken.
I know from experience a person who is “suicidal” DOES NOT want to be. She (or he) deep down wants to be saved. But she is also afraid to talk about it. Afraid that sharing the pain would just be a burden. That admitting to intrusive thoughts of suicide or depression will only bring shame and stigma.
So its up to you to ask the tough question. “Are you thinking of suicide?”
In most cases, your friend will tell you the truth. She (or he) does not really want to die. She just wants the pain to stop. She wants to find herself again. There’s just a cloud of pain and depression hiding the hope.
That pain can begin to get better with your help. With your love. With your concern. With a phone call to the suicide prevention lifeline. 800-273-TALK
“Are you PLANNING suicide?” A harder question to ask, but even more important.
If the answer you hear is “YES” please know that your loved one is in immediate crisis. It is time to go straight to the hospital. Its time to take action.
Almost two years ago, a lifelong friend of mine died by suicide. Every day I try to make sense of her loss. I desperately want to go back, to be there with her to ask the tough questions. To take action. To intrude.
I’ve also been suicidal myself. Feeling hopeless and alone. I’ve wanted to die. And I thank the universe every day that I had family and friends willing and able to ask the hard questions. To hold my hand as I found help.
The conversation starts today. It must! We can all be empowered to ask the right questions, the hard questions … and save lives.
Wife. Mom. Advocate for mental health & suicide prevention. Attachment parent. Survivor of mental illness & PPD. Motherhood Unadorned is motherhood naked, plain & uncensored. Follow on FB at and Twitter