It is important to know that Guard Your Buddy does not try to make you a mental health counselor or professional. In fact, we stress that you always get a professional involved with any situation involving serious mental health issues such as depression, PTSD or suicide. Never try to deal with suicidal ideation alone – always get a professional involved. As a friend, you can stabilize and assist a friend in getting the help they need.
Being a friend, especially an informed friend, can make all the difference in the world for someone who is struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts. To help you become an informed friend, you should learn the warning signs and review other important information at the Jason Foundation’s website or from the Rascal Flatts B1 Project.
Don’t be afraid to address your concerns with your friend or loved one and be prepared to act. You can do this by remembering the simple acronym “L.I.F.E” and the steps involved.
- L: LISTEN. This is the first thing you must do after you have expressed your concern to your friend or loved one.
- It sounds simple, but listening without criticism or commentary can be very difficult when you are emotionally involved or worried about an individual’s welfare. You might be tempted to try to just “fix it quickly,” but you must listen to your friend or loved one with compassion, understanding and support. After that, you can get professional help involved.
- I: INSIST ON HONESTY. Honesty must be present throughout your conversation with your friend or loved one.
- Encourage your friend or loved one to express his or her thoughts honestly, and be honest in your responses.
- F: Be open about your FEELINGS, and encourage your friend or loved one to be open with his or her feelings as well.
- Having an open, honest discussion about the feelings you both are experiencing will allow your friend or loved one to trust that he or she is not alone in this.
- E: EXTEND A HAND. Go with your friend or loved one to talk with a professional about the situation.
- It can be uncomfortable and even scary for your friend or loved one to approach a professional for help. It is always easier with someone there for support.
Most importantly: If your friend or loved one is suicidal – DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE! Stay with them until professional help arrives or call 911 and explain the emergency. No matter what, do not leave them alone.