It is often hard to know what to say to a friend who has lost a loved one to suicide. Though you cannot make the pain go away, your support can be key to helping your friend through this difficult loss. There are many ways to help. Listed below are a few strategies that may be useful when supporting your friend:
What to say
Often, what a grieving person needs most is a willing friend who can be there. For a friend, this often means being able to sit with the grieving person and listen to his/her feelings in a nonjudgmental way, without trying to problem-solve. Though it can be awkward or uncomfortable when you don't know what to say, in most cases what is needed is just a pair of ears that is willing to hear a friend's story. Below are some strategies for talking with a friend:
While you should never try to force your friend to open up when h/she is not ready, being able to have this conversation when they are ready is important. Being able to discuss the enormity of the loss without being afraid and showing you can be there with their pain can be one of the most helpful things a friend can do.
How to be an active listener
Comments to avoid when comforting a friend
Watching for warning signs
It is not uncommon for a grieving person to feel depressed, confused, angry, or disconnected from others. If the intensity of these emotions does not ease in time, professional mental health resources can help. Sometimes someone who has experienced a loss by suicide will have suicidal thoughts him/herself. It is important to know the warning signs of suicide and, should you feel concerned, to ask your friend directly about thoughts of suicide.
If you notice any of the following warning signs after the initial loss, especially if they continue for more than two months, encourage your friend to seek professional help.
If a friend is considering suicide, get professional help right away. If he/she is in a life-threatening emergency, or if you're concerned that a friend may act soon on his/her suicide plan, call 911 immediately
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.
Have you seen ABC's new show, "A Million Little Things"? This new drama that airs on your local ABC channel on Wednesdays at 10|9c highlights how friendship isn't a big thing, but many little things, and how sometimes, things really do happen for a reason. Join us in watching this show as a group of friends from Boston cope with the tragic loss of a dear friend and learn to live intentionally; taking care of each other and their own mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. Help is available 24/7.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
i understand is proud to help raise awareness for mental health and provide support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Here are some of the online resources and opportunities we are proud to offer our community at no charge.
Learn how to help a friend who has lost a loved one to suicide.
Attend a support group in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
i understand recently participated in a live panel discussion on WZZM during the season premiere on September 26, 2018. Please watch below.