You may want to consider offering support if the other person has confided to you about a problem, if you have a close relationship, or if you observe any of the following signs:
- Difficulty concentrating or functioning
- Marked change in sleep, appetite, or energy level
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Hopelessness or talk of suicide
While there isn’t a single approach that’s right for everyone, there are some guidelines that are generally useful
- Encourage the person to talk further, and be prepared to listen in a nonjudgmental way. Such a conversation can help someone feel cared about and validated.
- Don’t shy away from the topic of suicide if you think the person may be contemplating self-harm. It’s often a relief for someone to get the “secret” out and have support. It’s also important to take suicidal comments very seriously and get the person assistance right away.
- Know your limits. If you are acting as a friend, not a counselor, know when to suggest professional help (e.g., in cases of severe depression, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, and substance abuse).
- Get support for yourself when the crisis is over. You may find it helpful to talk with someone, provided you respect the privacy of the person in crisis.