Helping Someone You Care About

Written by The Nan Project

To help your young person, talk to them and encourage them to open up.

  • Never ignore or dismiss comments about suicide. If needed, speak to a therapist or doctor about this.
  • Recognize the symptoms of suicide ideation and depression.
  • Calmly ask them if they want to or intend to harm themselves. Seek immediate professional help if they do.
  • Offer unconditional emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Talk to them, but hold back from asking too many questions or lecturing.
  • Listen carefully with empathy and support, and acknowledge/validate the pain or sadness they are suffering.
  • Never dismiss feelings, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Be persistent, even if you are shut out initially. Gently be respectful of their comfort levels, as depression can be difficult for young people to talk about, but emphasize your concern and willingness to listen.
  • Discourage isolation and invite your young person out for walks, outings, and other activities. Keep trying even if they decline, but don’t push them to take on too much too soon.
  • Remind them how much you care for them and that they are not alone.
  • Safely store any unsafe objects that can be accessible (e.g., alcohol, firearms, medications, etc.)
  • Monitor their consistency with medications and treatment protocols.
  • Never keep secrets about self-harm or suicide ideation.
  • Don’t give up hope on them, treatment is available and it may take time to find the right fit.