How to Help a Loved One Who's Struggling

Unfortunately, we all probably know someone who’s been there. There, where life seems so dark and so hopeless, that they want to just give up.

It can be so hard to watch them struggle, knowing that you want to help, but you just don’t know how. That task of talking your loved one off the edge, convincing them that there is another option and that life is worth living, is no small feat. But you are up to the challenge.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Below are some tips as to how you as a friend, a family member, a loved one, can provide support and help to prevent suicide. 

  • Look for the warning signs. These can include talking about harming or killing oneself, acquiring weapons or drugs, dramatic mood swings, noticeable changes in usual habits, giving away prized possessions, recent stressful life events (like losing a job, or divorce) and more. You know your loved one’s typical behavior—be aware of any changes to their “normal.”
  • Always take comments seriously. No matter how nonchalant or attention-seeking a comment may seem, take any allusion to suicide seriously. Seek help and learn what to do by calling a trusted resource, such as the Harford County Mobile Crisis Team, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or Therapy Referral Services.
  • Listen. Though it may seem so simple, listen to your loved one. Listen to their fears, their vulnerabilities, and their insecurities. Do not judge. Do not give advice. Give undivided attention. Try to understand from their perspective.
  • Be there. Even if you don’t know what to say, your physical presence (or virtual presence) can help make all the difference. If you suspect someone is feeling down, reach out and show that you care with a call, a text, or an invitation to meet up.
  • Seek professional help. There may come a time when you don’t know what to do, or how to help next. There is help available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to speak with a professional about a loved one you’re worried about.

You are not alone in having a loved one who is suffering, and there are resources available to help you help them. Stay strong.