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What to say (or not say) to someone who is suicidal?

(13 Posts)
AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 11:22:25

A friend of mine has suffered a devastating and sudden breakup. He also has a difficult family background (abuse), and - heartbreakingly - he has indicated that he is thinking about killing himself.

He's been taken to the doctor and advised not to be alone, and he's following that advice. But I want to support him. Is there anything I can say that might help? Or anything I shouldn't say? We're in touch by text mainly at the moment.

I know sadly a lot of people here have been there, and would really appreciate advice.

chelle792 Wed 03-Feb-16 11:29:33

When i was ill I had a friend that messaged every day, even if it was just a "hello". I didn't always reply but without fail he contacted me.

That's something i will never forget and I will forever be grateful to that friend. I lost so many "friends" when I became sick and felt really quite isolated.

When I was well enough to see him, he would literally come and sit with me. Much of the time I was a zombie. He didn't expect me to be good company. I chatted when I could but if I couldn't, there was no pressure for me to entertain him. He literally sat.

Nothing you can say will help. Just be there and when the fog lifts he will be thankful for your support. Just be consistent

AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 11:34:02

"Nothing you can say will help. Just be there and when the fog lifts he will be thankful for your support. Just be consistent"

Thank you - that sounds very good advice. I have tried saying that the pain will fade etc but he obviously doesn't believe me (understandable) so I wondered if I should just shut up altogether.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 03-Feb-16 11:41:14

A simple "Hi! Whatcha doing?" every day can work wonders, possible a couple of times. Noncommittal, light, he can open up if he wants too or shut down if he wants to. Please no "be strong", "you'll get through it", "it'll all turn out OK".

Currently not suicidal, but would would be quite happy to die in my sleep. IYSWIM.

AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 11:50:41

Sorry you're going/have gone through this, chelle and Milk. brew flowers

AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 11:51:36

Yeah am now trying to stick to "What are you up to?" "Let's meet next week" type normal stuff. But what about when he starts outpouring his grief (he is doing this every couple of days)?

PurpleDaisies Wed 03-Feb-16 11:54:59

"Nothing you can say will help. Just be there and when the fog lifts he will be thankful for your support. Just be consistent"

This. Just be normal and talk about normal things like tv or whatever. It doesn't have to be deep and meaningful. You don't have to try and fix your friend, just by being there you'll be helping.

PurpleDaisies Wed 03-Feb-16 11:57:53

Cross posted with you. If he wants to talk about his grief, let him. You don't have to say anything profound or come up with any solutions (actually someone trying to problem solve when you just want to talk about how you're feeling can be quite unhelpful). You sound lovely and I'm sure you're doing really well with your friend.

AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 13:12:39

Thanks Purple, I'll let him talk.

Trouble is, by text you can't do the sort of attentive listening cues like nodding or eye contact so "listening" looks a lot like "ignoring" - unless you reply with something like "Poor you" or "That sounds awful" which I feel are a bit unhelpful to say. (He knows it's awful!)

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 03-Feb-16 13:28:45

You could answer

"I know this is only texting, but I want you to know that I'm reading and taking in every word you send. I'm here for you to talk to or text, just spill it out. If I don't reply don't think I'm not listening, don't think I don't want you to text because I do. Keep texting me, I'm here."

AskingForAPal Wed 03-Feb-16 13:45:22

That's lovely, Milk. I will definitely use that.

You lot are great, thanks so much, really kind of you to help me out. flowers

chelle792 Wed 03-Feb-16 20:33:21

Be aware he's probably feeling extra shit as it's possible that the breakup was caused by his illness. Even if that's not the case he probably feels like that

AskingForAPal Thu 04-Feb-16 18:59:18

Hiya - good point but in this case it definitely wasn't (and he doesn't think it was) as he was "fine" before.

Have listened to your advice and just texted him today asking how he is etc.

Thanks again for the advice - if anyone has any more, or would share their experience of what's helpful, I'd love to hear it.

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