If you think a friend is feeling unsafe (but it isn't an emergency), you may not know what to say or do. Here are some things that can help you have the conversation:
- Express concern. An easy way to do this is to make an observation about any changes in behaviour you've noticed. "You haven't seemed like your usual self lately. Do you want to talk about it?"
- Listen with empathy. The most important thing is to listen without judging.
- Be curious. Ask questions about what's going on for them, their emotions, supports and needs. (Don't focus on how they may harm themselves).
- Be direct. Ask, "Are you thinking about suicide?" or "Are you planning to harm yourself?" (It's a myth that this will 'put the idea in their head').
- Don't make it about other people. Saying things like, "How would your parents feel if you hurt yourself?" can actually make things worse.
- Don't make promises you can't keep. Don't promise to keep self-harm or suicidal thoughts a secret.
- Get support as soon as possible. People who are feeling unsafe might find it hard to think clearly or make safe decisions. It's very important to help them get support. Supports might include a teacher or counsellor at school or university, a professional like a psychologist or Kids Helpline counsellor, etc..
Remember: Supporting a friend who is at-risk can be stressful and impact on your own wellbeing. It's important to look after yourself, too!
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