You might find the conversation you've started takes an unexpected turn and the person you're worried about gets defensive about how they're feeling. Being prepared for good and bad responses can make you feel more comfortable.
What if they deny there's a problem or don't want to talk
Your friend or loved one might not be ready to talk right now. You don’t want them to feel pressured and it’s their personal choice to talk about it or not.
- Tell them that you’re here to talk to if they ever need. Let them know you are available and that you are someone they can turn to if they need.
- Set up a time to do something together. Make a firm commitment for a set time (don’t leave it too long): we are going to see a movie on Friday.
- Keep looking for opportunities to have a conversation with your friend or loved one. It might not be the right time, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a right time. Keep checking in.
- Suggest that there might be someone else your friend or loved one can talk to. They might want to talk to someone else close to them or to a confidential helpline, their GP or a counsellor.
What if they don't want to see a professional?
It can take time for people to feel ready to talk to someone – and they may not ever want to.
- Reassure your friend or loved one that they’re not alone
- Let them know that there are lots of ways to access support, including online and self-help options
- Let them know that professional support is available if they want it
- Don’t make your support conditional on them seeing a professional.
Make a safety plan with them
Beyond Now suicide prevention app
You can make a safety plan with the Beyond Now app or you could just write it all down on a piece of paper and make sure they keep it with them.
- What are your warning signs (what are the thoughts, feelings behaviours that trigger you?)
- Tell me your reasons to live (what is important, makes life worth living)?
- How can you make your environment safe (e.g. get rid of pills)?
- What can you do by yourself (activities that distract you e.g. walking outside, gardening, taking a shower)?
- How can you connect with other people and places (list people you can spend time with/social places to go)?
- Which friends and family can you talk to?
- Make sure you list some professional supports too e.g. suicide call-back service, Beyond Blue Support Service.
If you think they're OK for now
- Talk to your friend or loved one about the support they currently have. If they don’t have much, explore some options. Would you talk to your GP? Would you consider a counsellor? Could we get online and see what information we can find?
- If they want to talk to someone now – your friend or loved one may need you to make the first appointment or stay with them while they call.Or you can always call a helpline for them.
- Make sure they’re safe. Some options to think about:
- Stay with them, or get someone they trust to stay with them until they feel safer.
- Check that they can stay safe until a particular time e.g.“I’ll call you at 8am tomorrow to check in”.
- Make sure they don’t have access to anything they can hurt themselves with (e.g. pills, weapons) and if they do, get rid of them.