I’m sorry to hear of what your friend is going through. This is a very difficult situation, and to be honest, there is no simple solution.
Until someone with a problem accepts that there is a problem, they won’t do anything about solving it. That’s the first hurdle. The second is convincing them that help is available, and that the should accept it.
Sustained gentle persuasion is at least part of the answer. Just being there to listen, and letting the person know that you are there for them may let them build up enough trust inside themselves to begin to deal with it.
You may not to be able to solve their problem, or for that matter understand how they feel, but just listening and letting them talk can be really helpful.
Getting people to open up can be difficult. It has to be done sensitively so that the person does not feel put down or alienated. A gentle approach like ‘It must be difficult feeling as you do. Perhaps we could talk about it? is often the best start.
Choose your time and place carefully if possible so that the person feels as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Try to make sure that the person feels that you are on their side, and try to use ‘open questions’ – ones that don’t allow a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.
Don’t try to give them solutions, because as they open up and talk, the person begins to find their own solutions.
Good beginnings are:
Where – 'Where did that happen?'
When – 'When did you find out……?'
What – 'What else was happening?'
How – 'How did you feel?'
Can you tell me…….
How are you feeling? This helps to get past the bare facts of a situation, and lets people
begin to look at their inner turmoil.
Don’t push hard or try to tell them what they MUST do – give them space and time to talk.
Get a couple of magazine articles about depression, and leave them lying around
There are some things you can do, and here are some tips:
What you can say that helps:
I’m here for you – you’re not alone.
What causes these thoughts and feelings is a real illness, and it can be treated..
You may not believe it now, but someday, this will pass and you’ll feel differently.
I care about you and want to help, even if I don’t really understand what you are going through right now, how you feel, and what you’re thinking
Don’t ever give up – just hang on one more minute or hour – whatever you can.
You are important to me. Your life is important to me, and to everybody who knows you
I’d like you to tell me what I can do now to help you.
We can get through this together
Cheer up- it could be worse
Quit worrying about it – you’ll be fine
Your just imagining it, it’s all in your head.
Everybody feels like this sometimes
Why do you want to die – look at the life you’ve got.
You’ll just have to help yourself
I’d have thought you would be better by now.
Get over it and snap out of it.
Grow up and act like an adult.
What’s the matter with you anyway?
You’ll also find some helpful information here:
Also the Samaritan’s web site in the UK here is a mine of useful information which will help you, as is the National Suicide Prevention line (in the USA), which you will find here.
If you really fear that your friend might harm himself or someone else, he can be hospitalized against his will, but only under the strictest of circumstances.
The laws of committal vary from State to State, but in general there are broad similarities.
Committal is a legal means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment when required. It can be voluntary or involuntary.
A voluntary committal is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment freely and of their own accord
An involuntary committal is when a person is taken to a facility for involuntary examination.
This can only be done when :
There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness
The person has refused voluntary examination and
The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, and the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being;
and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.
A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.
A law enforcement officer may take an individual to a facility for evaluation if he has reason to believe that the individual's behavior meets the statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.
If a person is willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that he has personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an "ExParte" for an Involuntary Examination can be made.
A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours on primary committal.
These are general guidelines, and you should get legal advice as to what specifically applies in your State.
Best wishes, NormanM