Urgent Support

Supporting a friend who may be wanting to give up

Ameya and Riyansh had many classes together. They would often talk and catch up with each other on their way to the lecture hall or during their breaks. But in the last month things had been different. Ameya noticed that Riyansh seemed very distant. Their conversations were shorter and more to the point. Unlike before, Riyansh was missing many of his lectures.

When he did attend, he seemed tired and worn-out. Ameya knew that Riyansh was facing some difficulties in his personal life. One day, Riyansh spoke about how he had lost all hope of things improving and he simply had no energy left to keep trying. Ameya naturally got worried.

Initiation
I am worried about my friend. What can I do?

In case you have noticed signs of severe distress in a friend/classmate, please help in finding support. Even though it may scare you / make you feel anxious to come to notice this, your timely help and a calm response can ensure that the person gets the help they need.

Symptoms

Signs of a person who may be at risk
  • Isolating self, withdrawing from others
  • Visible changes in their behaviour or the way they care for themselves
  • Sleeping/eating a lot less/more than before
  • Explicitly stating a desire to harm themselves/ 'wanting to end it all'
  • Looking for ways to harm oneself / talking about harming oneself
  • Vocalizes thoughts like:
    • I am so tired of/done feeling this way
    • I can't take this any longer
    • Things are never going to change for me
    • I can't see any way out of this
    • No one would notice if I was gone / I'm a burden
  • Possessing ways to harm oneself (e.g. stocking up on pills, buying self-harming things)
  • Talking / writing / drawing about death

What should you do if you see such signs?

If you feel like there is immediate danger, do not leave your friend alone.
Keep talking to them (see below for what to say).

If you're not sure what's on their mind, do not hesitate to ask directly if they’re thinking of harming themselves. If they have been thinking about it, most likely, they would be relieved to share it. If not, they will simply deny it.

Remember, asking someone if they have been thinking of suicide, NEVER encourages / prompts them to begin thinking of it, if they haven't already thought of it. Thus, it is always safe to ask and check-in.

If they are feeling vulnerable, do not keep it a secret. Ensure they get professional help.

Remember to take care of yourself to. If this is bringing up a lot of emotions, feel free to access help for yourself.

Helpful Well-intentioned but not helpful

Saying things like:

Thank you for sharing your feelings with me; I am here to listen

Panicking
It must be a really difficult time for you right now Lecturing them about how life is precious and how suicide is wrong/unethical/against the plan of nature
I know you’re overwhelmed and nothing seems to be working out. But know that I’m here and you’re not alone. There is help available. Mocking or ridiculing them by saying that suicide is ‘taking the easy way out’, or that suicide is a ‘cowardly’ act
This is not permanent even though it feels like that right now. This will pass. Asking them to be grateful for all that they have (do you know how many students crave to be where you are!)
You’re dealing with too many things right now. Getting some support will definitely help Daring them (you always say this, I know you won’t do anything)
I am worried about you and I think we should get extra help. Guilt-tripping them (think about how your family will feel)
Helpful

Saying things like:

Thank you for sharing your feelings with me; I am here to listen

It must be a really difficult time for you right now
I know you’re overwhelmed and nothing seems to be working out. But know that I’m here and you’re not alone. There is help available.
This is not permanent even though it feels like that right now. This will pass.
You’re dealing with too many things right now. Getting some support will definitely help
I am worried about you and I think we should get extra help.
Well-intentioned but not helpful

Saying things like:

Panicking
Lecturing them about how life is precious and how suicide is wrong/unethical/against the plan of nature
Mocking or ridiculing them by saying that suicide is ‘taking the easy way out’, or that suicide is a ‘cowardly’ act
Asking them to be grateful for all that they have (do you know how many students crave to be where you are!)
Daring them (you always say this, I know you won’t do anything)
Guilt-tripping them (think about how your family will feel)

Seek help

  • Reach out to the IIT hospital
  • You can also contact Security or its Quick Response Team at any time if you feel a threat to your personal safety.
  • Talk to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre
  • You can approach your ISMP/ ISCP/ DAMP mentor, if you feel comfortable sharing this with them.
  • You can also confide in a friend, a teacher that you trust or your parents.