rebelling against low expectations

How can I help a suicidal friend?

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SAM WRITES: There have been multiple occasions when dear friends have told me that they are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts. I have many friends who are dealing with depression and sometimes self harm.

God has given me several unique opportunities to talk freely with teens who wouldn’t normally open up at such a level. When they do, however, I sometimes don’t know what advice to give.

Usually my friends tell me about a struggle that I have already faced in my own life. When it comes to suicidal thoughts, I feel like I can’t do anything to help them, even though I’ve been through it myself.

My first reaction would be a big hug, but that hasn’t possible in the situations I’ve found myself in. I do pray for these friends a lot, since I believe that it is the best thing I can do for them, but I’m wondering what else I can do.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to tell these precious friends? How can I help them see that Jesus loves them more than they could ever imagine?


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  • In my mind, suicidal thoughts come from a feeling of worthlessness. They don’t think they mean anything to anybody. In addition to praying for them, you can give them TONS of encouragement to help build their self-esteem. Like the For King and Country song says, you are priceless. Tell them how much they are valued by you, others, and God. Love them unconditionally, and let them know they always have you to confide in. Find things about them that you can just rave about to make them feel useful and worthwhile. And maybe after all the pain, they will be able to see through you what they can do, and what they mean to you and others.

    But here is a warning: don’t EVER tell them something you don’t mean. Just to be safe, stick to biblical words of encouragement unless you know that person well. If you begin to flatter people (and using words that you don’t entirely believe), they will definitely feel as though you’re buttering them up, and that could even drive them farther over the edge.

    Hope this helps. 🙂

  • I have 5 best friends in the U.S. I maintain constant contact with. I moved out of country 8 months ago, but our friendships are sound and we’ve been through the good and the bad together, so 8,000 miles hasn’t changed anything.
    In the last month, 3 of these friends (all 3 of the girls) have been struggling with depression; two of them suicidal.
    One of my passions is counseling. I LOVE helping people who are struggling and I feel deeply saddened myself when people I love are hurting.
    My two suicidal friends have come to me as their friend to confide in and seek help from….I’ve never struggled with suicidal thoughts myself, but I’ve done the best I can to encourage them.
    I think one thing I’ve found important is to not freak out!! This sounds stupid I know, but when someone comes to us for help and we panic or freak out they aren’t as open to us…My one suicidal friend expressed this to me that it’s hard for her if I freak out about the things she tells me….
    Here’s a text I recently sent my friend when she told me she was having suicidal thoughts (I’m omitting her name)…She was asking me to help and pray for her because she wanted the thoughts to go away, but they wouldn’t:

    “Well, to be honest, I don’t “understand” in a sense because I’ve never felt that before….but I don’t think any less of you for feeling that way because everyone struggles in a different way! And even though I don’t understand from personal experience, I can imagine and understand as best I possibly can from knowing people who have felt this or reading stories and studying it….._____ I love you! And I’m praying HARD for you right now!! I believe you when you say you won’t do anything to yourself…there are emotions and feelings people can’t control sometimes….Job in the Bible didn’t want to live when all those things
    happened to him. But like you, Job had the Holy Spirit living in his heart who
    has the power to take away that feeling or to suppress that emotion enough to
    where it doesn’t overcome you. YOU can do ALL things through Christ who gives
    you strength! Prayer has the power to take this away…Prayer has the power to
    sustain you….Cry out to God! And ask God to take it away and reveal to you
    the source of this emotion so you know what is troubling you….Also, I know this
    isn’t what you want to hear, but PLEASE tell your mom!!! Remember when (another friend) was texting you similar things and you guys informed her mom? It was a lot better for her in the end…._____ your mom loves you and cares about you and only wants to help you! Let her! Trust her! She’s there for you!!!!!! And where two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, he is in their midst….Ask
    your mom to pray with you….I can almost promise she will… ;)”

    I guess that text sums up what I would say…The only thing is, I don’t know if in your situation your freinds are Christians or not…If not, I can understand how this would be more difficult because the only hope they really do have (Jesus Christ) they don’t have living in their lives…So if they aren’t CHristians, I would encourage you to gently point them to CHrist. Show them their need for Him!
    Also, show them their life has value!!!! Being cliche with “everyone’s life has a purpose and a meaning” is true and helpful, but since they are such dear friends of yours, I’m sure there is something personal you could say to show them that they have value to YOU! Use real life examples to show them they have value! =)

    Hope this helps some! But I’m sure there are many others with much wiser advice than this..!

  • Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice on this topic. My oldest brother struggles with depression and it really gets on my nerves when people say that depression is something that only adults struggle with, because that’s not the truth.

    • OMD! People say this to me all the time or they’ll say “Are you sure you aren’t doing this for attention?” I’m so sorry that people say that…it’s so wrong.

    • Wow, I have never heard anyone say that. If you look up online about types of depression, you will find that there are many depressions specifically designated to teens. (I hope that makes sense.)

    • It is certainly NOT true. (What a naïve, unhelpful and shallow idea!) Perhaps, though, only other young people can fully understand – reach out to – teens struggling with this. Just a thought.

  • Don’t take it lightly. Make sure that an adult knows preferably their parents. I had to tell my friends parent she was harming herself and suicidal.. my friend didn’t talk to me for months because she said I betrayed her trust. But that wasn’t as important to me as her life and that is not something that you keep a secret like other things your friend may confide in you with. And lastly make sure you keep praying and relying on Jesus for strength, these things can be extremely draining and after a while you can become insensitive to their needs or how severe it could be at times….because you are tired and sick of hearing the same things. Don’t try to do it all on your own.

  • The real problem with all of these suicide threats is that we do not know exactly how serious the threats are. This generation has been raised in a “self” and “death” culture. I believe this generation is besieged with info to always be proving themselves and to elevate themselves by either fashion, popularity, sports or education. Their whole lives are all about self. Most parents in the Christian realm have forsaken their responsibility to parent through the Word of God and instead have passed it onto the pastors and churches that are often very lean when it comes to digging deep in Scripture. Only God can change the hearts and thoughts of men to follow Him.

    Sam, your motives and intents are pure. Prayer is key. But also your lifestyle is paramount to these hurting people. That often used statement “you may be the only Jesus that they may ever see” is as important as ever. The hypocrisy in many churches is what most of the lost see. Your love for others and your consistent obedience to Christ’s ways should be a contrast to how others are living. Along with prayer comes encouragement to the hurting. In no uncertain terms these people need to know the harsh reality of suicide. They must be told the harsh truth in love. It must be made clear that their lives are not their own, that we are not our own God. We cannot overlook people’s depression, but often we go overboard with our comfort without detailing the reality of the act.

    Parents and pastors need to be informed of these pleas for help. And all should be taken seriously.

    May God abundantly use you in these situations.

    Sincerely in Christ,
    Jean

    • You are welcome, but any wisdom I have gained comes straight from Him through His Word and many years of experience. To Him be the glory.

  • I have dealt with this in minor ways, but (at least for me) it has always come from not feeling needed…and like there are already so many people in the world who are doing things to make a difference, so what is my use?

    I’m sure you already know this, but overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts is something that has to happen over time. Always let your friend know that you care about them. And show them that God cares and has a plan for them too. Some verses that I always loved to look at when I felt down were Jeremiah 29:11:

    “For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

    Also, Psalms 34:18:

    The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
    And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

    These verses and many, many more have offered me so much hope and maybe they can do the same for your friend.
    I’ll be praying for you and your friends!

  • Hi Sam!

    First off, I think that maybe you shouldn’t start out with “Jesus Loves You!”. I feel like that should come a little later. Like you should work it in as you go. I have struggled with this saying that Jesus Loves You. I mean, I don’t doubt that he does exactly, but it just doesn’t really help me personally.

    I would just like to say that I am commenting because I have struggled with depression for about 4 years. So I know what it is like to have depression and I am struggling with suicidal thoughts as well. So I relate to this topic and I can give my opinion on it. And I really hope it helps you Sam. I truly do.

    So next I think that if you could recommend to them that they should have someone to talk to that that would be great. It doesn’t have to be a therapist but a therapist isn’t really that bad. I have a therapist and she is really nice and chatty. The questions are “light” and I don’t have to say anything I don’t feel comfortable saying. I do recommend that it is an adult and not someone young. Adults are wise even if we don’t want to admit that. The person that I had gone to was my aunt and she lives on the other side of the country so it was easier for me to tell her because I didn’t have to see her every day.

    And lastly I think that you should just be there. I know that that seems too simple but seriously, just having someone there can really make that difference. Being there is different than actually having someone to talk to however! Being there would be like being a best friend. Hanging out, going to the movies, rollerskating. Whatever you like to do with your friends. Actually having someone to talk to is different from that. Just remember that.

    I hope that this helps you Sam!

    -Clare

  • Hey there, Sam! As being someone who struggles daily with depression, I cannot comprehend the amount of burden and hurt that suicidal people feel. It must be so hard…
    I would suggest not preaching at them or trying to solve their problems. Yes, the “Jesus loves you” message is important, but maybe something personal would be more effective. I have a friend who struggles with suicide and for Christmas I’m giving her something called #loveyou notes. Basically, you write a note to the person to encourage them and say that you are there for them. Write one everyday. Then give them the stack and say “This is how much I love and care about you.”
    Never be to busy for them. Stop homework, vacation, school, life or anything else for them. Let them know that you are praying for them:)

  • I agree with all the other people on here, just be there. I struggled with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts a couple years back and for me the stemmed from feeling guilty and unworthy. Pretty much I felt like God didn’t want to forgive me and that in my life I was a failure. I think when people go through something like that its important to not just say that you will be there but prove it with your actions. For me a lot of times my panic attacks and suicidal thoughts would hit at night. I thank God that my mom didn’t mind if I woke her up in the middle of the night to pray and talk. Eventually I figured out that all these issues stemmed from lies that I believed and over time Gods truth did set me free, but Like I said it took time.
    Also praying is super important. When I went through that I had no strength to pray for myself. I doubted Christianity, Gods love and at times His existence so praying was a real challenge. Just having someone there for me who would pray out loud and pray over me, really helped even if I had trouble believing anything at the time.
    God Bless you, I know that its hard to watch your friends struggle but trust me you being there for them is absolutely priceless and lifesaving.

  • *Haven’t read all the comments* I haven’t ever had a friend confide in me in that way, but I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts a few years ago. The number one thing I would do in this situation is encourage them to get help from parents, youth workers, a Pastor/Pastor’s wife, etc. Also I would encourage them to make a vow between them and someone close to them (Parents, a sibling, a close friend like you) that they won’t ever commit suicide. Getting counselling from a Godly leader and making a vow may just be all they need.

  • As someone who has struggled with depression, and suicidal thoughts, just being there for them can do wonders. Don’t pressure them to talk, or change. Just let them know you’re there to talk, and praying for them. Call or text them asking how they’re doing, but don’t pressure them to talk. I know that when I went through depression, I didn’t always want to initiate a conversation, even when I wanted to talk.

  • SPLAT!

    (Speech, prayer, listening, acknowledgement, and truth.)

    Sorry, that’s all I can think of at the moment.

  • I have a suicidal friend, and i used to be suicidal. The thing that helped me the most, was communication with family and close friends, but thats not always best. My friend is extremely anti-social so, he isnt really into talking. I tried the approach my parents did and gave emotional, and physical support, but once again thats not always best. Leting them know that you care about them constantly and talking to them or expressing intrest in them at any given moment you can will help most, because theres a supportive bond that goes on between two friends who are going to be always there for each other. Ive told my friend many times that im praying for them even though they arent exaclty the most religious and they appreciate it. So, just letting them know that you care, and tell them the impact on your life they have and let them know that a higher, more gracious power than people, is caring for them.

  • I am currently dealing with my best friend who has been suicidal. It’s been extremely difficult, and it cannot be taken lightly. I hope from my experience I can help you.

    1. Be there for them. Don’t give fake compliments, be real. Don’t treat them like they have a disability, but as a real person. Tell them it will be okay. Just give them a shoulder to cry on.
    2. Talk to someone. Talk to a parent or someone who can be with them often, and tell them what’s going on. They can receive inspiration to help them as well as you.
    3. Remember who your friend really is. When they are in a suicidal state their judgement is clouded, and Satan has taken control. What they say and do that may be hurtful is NOT them. Don’t let yourself be hurt by what they say, but remember that their sweet, calm, beautiful spirit is simply hidden for the time being, but it’s still there ans there is always hope.
    4. Be sure your friend knows you care and genuinely want to be there for them.
    5. Be patient. I am going through this same situation and patience has been incredibly important. You must wait for them to figure things out for themselves. Give them space. Wait.

    I hope this helps 🙂

  • i have one friend his name is Anell and he is not christian he is atheist and he and me have been good friends the only thing is is that i moved away but before i moved he was saying that he thinks that his life was totally unfair and that he feels like he is being treated horribly . so what happened was i talked to him but it was hard for me and awkward because their were some uncomfortable feelings when he was telling me. but i knew that this was very troubling for him it was for me too. i the reason this was hard for me was because that was the first encounter i have ever had with a suicidal friend but he got over it and now hes fine but he still thinks about it . but sometimes he curses and it was really hard for me to hang out with him. i sometimes wish i could move back so that i could help him out more often than i did before. this made me feel like a total jerk i should’ve helped him more instead i was self centered and i feel horrible ever sense. but he said thanks to me he didn’t think about it any longer but then he said it was coming back but he said whenever these thoughts come back he will think about me. 🙂

  • Show them the BIBLE, if they know what JESUS did for them, they would see that GOD has a purpose for them in this life.

    In my religion class in school,we were rcently talking about suicide and suicidal thoughts , and one thing That grabbed my attention was; they really don’t want to die, when you friend tells you that they have suicidal thoughts, it is a cry for help, they want you to help them.

    Again I think the best way to help them is to share the gospel.

  • There is already a lot of really great advice on here, but there is something I’d like to add 🙂 Okay, so depression can be caused by emotional things going on in your life, right? But (from what I’ve heard, I don’t actually have personal experience in this), it can also be caused by not having enough “happy chemicals” in your brain. So you feel sad, and scared, without a reason, even if everything in your life seems to be going great. I think this could cause a strong feelings of hopelessness, and the feeling that it’s never going to get better. (This post does a good job of explaining it: http://adam4d.com/anxiety-depression-truth/)

    Of course, I have no idea what type of depression these people are struggling with 🙂 But if this is the case, I think encouragement and understanding could do wonders. Maybe share the story of Job with them, especially if they’re Christians. God allowed Job to suffer horrendously, but He had a purpose for it. At every moment, God was in control.

    Another great verse is:

    “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 10:13

  • I have been wondering what I should do. I looked through the other comments and it has helped a lot. Thanks, guys. 🙂

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