Once, I had a friend whom I thought was at risk for suicide. This was before I started blogging, but, after I had gone through my own situation. So I knew about the warning signs, but, I didn’t have any practice speaking about them.
Thoughts crept in that held me back from speaking up. What if I’m over-reading the signs? What if my own experiences make me more prone to be suspicious?
I called my old therapist and asked him what I should do. He said, “Matt, just ask her. Just be very direct with her and ask her if there is anything going on, anything she wants to talk about at all. Let her know that you’re here for her.”
That was his simple, professional advice. No intervention, no police, no family; just one on one talk. He did answer my follow-up question by saying that it was OK to alert my friend’s parents of the situation I perceived.
Your brain will always come up with an excuse why not to confront someone. You’ve got to learn to dismiss that. That’s your lizard brain from one million years ago talking.
Ask your lizard brain: What if I don’t speak up?
I ask my friend exactly what my doctor said to. You know what happened? Nothing. I mean, we talked about stuff, but, she wasn’t suicidal. If by any chance she was, at least she knew I was there to listen more if needed.
Guess what never happens: the person commits suicide because you asked them if they were feeling crappy or depressed. That does not happen. You are not going to ‘trigger’ anything by being a friend.
A trigger would be a life event such as loss of a job, divorce, failure at school, physical injury, or something like that. Not a friendly ‘Would you like to talk about it?”
You’re not going to hurt anybody. You’re just going to become closer with that person.
And that is something that we all need. We all like to be alone, but really, we all need each other.
3 thoughts on “What Happens When You Confront A Depressed Person?”
Will you stop coming to my house and cutting up a bunch of onions wherever I just happen to be sitting? *sniff*
Great article. I needed it.
Thanks Sarah. I was aiming for future stigma reduction here; not trying to stir up any feelings of sadness 🙂