Subject: A Friend in Need
Question: I have a friend that really needs some help. She just recently lost a friend to suicide and before that, she was having thoughts about suicide herself. She is definitely suffering and has been for a long while, asking anyone she can for help. I'm the first one to finally go look for it for her. Her parents won't even help her. I was wondering if you could find out if there are any recommended therapists in or around Gilbert, Arizona that I could possibly get her to see. I would greatly appreciate if you could find out for me. She needs a lot of help. Thank you.
Answer: Dear Kevin:
First of all your friend is lucky to have a friend like you. Next here are suicide hotline numbers they are CONFIDENTIAL and FREE. 1-800-suicide and 866-205-5229 and(800) 564-5465 and (800) 631-1314. If she won't call them, then you call them. Now let me be quite clear if she tells you specifically that she wants to hurt herself you must immediately call the police regardless of whether or not she wants you to as she may not want you to because her state of mind is not in the right place. DO NOT HESITATE to call the police whenever someone indicates they want to hurt themselves or someone else.
She can call to talk to someone and they would be able to refer her to peer counselors and/or professional counselors. You need to know you are NOT RESPONSIBLE for the outcome of her decision regardless of what she chooses. If you think she is going to commit suicide or she tells you she is planning to or she says she still has thoughts of suicide do tell someone who can help you. I have suggestions below.
You being her friend is enough. Listening to her is a good idea without trying to fix anything. The more you just listen. I also encourage you to tell someone else if there is someone who is in charge (I don't know if you are school age or college age or what).
If she is under 18 her parents should be informed. If she is over 18 some states have laws which say a person can be hospitalized for treatment if they are a threat to themselves (call the police). Children under 18 can also be hospitalized if their parents take the action to do so.
Here is a tool I and other have found very useful for all sorts of situations.
HALT. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Two of these Hungry and Tired are quick to fix by getting a nutritious snack or something on the stomach and then lying down and taking a quick nap. This allows the body to cope better with problems and helps us to think better. Lonely and Angry can be solved by calling one of those hot lines and talking. No one will come after you they will listen. The people on the hot lines are there because they truly care about people who are in emotional pain. (The receive lots of training and little pay for what they do, they genuinely want to help.)
Anger sometimes is harder for females to express. It is sometimes a good thing to go for a walk and people will talk as they walk. Journaling and writing out the feelings is good as well as drawing and painting. If she won't call the suicide hotline YOU CALL ABOUT HER INSTEAD.
If she is underage and her parents won't help her you can tell a teacher or a school counselor. Many are taking suicide ideas much more seriously. If this does not work call 911 and tell someone there. Regardless of whether or not people get angry with you, you are doing the right thing. The shame is only for those who do not respond or listen.
AGAIN, regardless of how this turns out you have done all you could do by just being her friend. YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HER LIFE or her CHOICES. If anything happens you do not get to blame yourself for what happens. The adults in her life were responsible for responding to her. Please be good to yourself as well.
Remember: DO NOT HESITATE to call the police whenever someone indicates they want to hurt themselves or someone else.
Best Wishes and my prayers go with you.
M Kay Keller