A Suicidal Friend | INFJ Forum

A Suicidal Friend

Nick Wolf

Regular Poster
Mar 16, 2009
A friend of mine is having a very difficult time with depression and has recently told me that she planning to commit suicide. From what I know of her she's not the type of person to say such things simply because she wants attention. I want to help her but I have no idea how, I have never suffered from depression and don't know what she is going through. On top of that I don't even know if she even wants advice or just wants to confide in someone who won't judge her.

I would be grateful for any advice from someone who either knows about depression or has experienced what my friend is going through.
What's going on in your friends life that'd she need to end it? Ask her, she does need a confident, don't judge or even try to give advice at first, but listen to what she has to say.
Sounds like a road trip is in order, bring weed and stand up comedy cds for the cd player.

Also, have sex with her.
How old is she? Are you both in school? Counseling is free for students. Urge her to seek help from a school counselor--this isn't something you can fix just by talking to her. Suicide isn't a joke. A professional would be equipped to handle the magnitude of her situation--so please, talk to a counselor on her behalf or try to get her to go into a counselor's office.

She might get mad at you for doing this. But wouldn't you rather her be mad at you than dead? I certainly would. I've seen too many of my classmates kill themselves due to their "friends" not wanting to "tell" on them.
We're both in our mid 20s. I don't even know her that well but for some reason she finds it easy to talk to me. I've talked to her about therapy but she's had some bad experiances with therapists and i think it would take a lot for her to go on medication. She's had a very hard life and lived with depression for years.
I don't know what to tell you. She has to want to get better and the only I can see her doing that is to get some professional help.

Maybe you can get all her friends/family together and try to do an "intervention" of some sorts? Have everybody who loves her confront her on her suicidal thoughts and persuade her to get therapy?
Sounds like a road trip is in order, bring weed and stand up comedy cds for the cd player.

Also, have sex with her.
Profound advice.. except for the sex part.. that might complicate things in her mind a bit more..

I would take her seriously, though. You probably shouldn't bear the weight of all of this yourself because she confided in only you.

I agree with TK, you should try to talk with her family about it. I'm sure it'll piss her off, but it doesn't seem to me anyone logically chooses suicide, and she needs help. In fact, by telling you--she's reaching out for help.

I went through that before, only I never told anyone what was going on.. I kept it to myself and was terrified that at some point, like a ticking-time-bomb I was going to snap and do it, and there would be nothing rational left in me to hold me back.. When suicide is mentioned, it should not be taken lightly.
I agree with tk and mt.

She is clearly reaching out for help. If she was totally hopeless, she would have already committed suicide by now or wouldn't have told you. She's getting closer but she sort of wants to be helped. That's why she's talking to you about this, whether she's fully conscious of it or not. You need to get her to a counselor, not necessarily a psychiatrist, at least a professional counselor.
Okay, maybe not the sex.

But definitely the roadtrip, take away the stressors, add a disinhibitor and something to make her laugh
The vast majority of people tell someone before they commit suicide. You should take her very seriously.

What she needs, if she is planning to commit suicide, is to go to a mental hospital. That is what she needs, but it would probably be hard getting her to agree.

What you need to do is talk to people (especially her) and set up an intervention. She needs to see a professional, and until then, an plan needs to be set up to get her not to commit suicide. You should also make yourself available to listen to her and make sure she knows that you do not want her to commit suicide.

It is better to have her hate you for telling her family and authorities that she plans to kill herself than for her to kill herself.
The road trip is actually an excellent idea. I would say the weed is too... but everybody can't handle it and I'm not sure its healthy to self medicate in that way. those emotions will just come back when you're not high anymore unless you talked them out. Telling her family also good, unless her family sucks. Who is she closest to?
Talk about her problems when she's high and in a good mood from the comedy.
In a sense try to do exactly what you would hope/need someone else to do if you were the one in that situation. Be prepared to give a lot of time and emotional effort to supporting her. I agree with other posters, the fact that she has told you tells me that she doesn't want to take her own life and although she is strugglign to see an alternative she none the less wants to find an alternative. Her depression will make eveyrthing 10 times worse, she will be uterly unable to see her life in a possitive way, so simply saying to her ''hey, look at all the good things you have'' may not get through to her. Speaking as a depressive myself, I know that people toalking to me doesn't work, but people showing me they care and think highly of me does work.

So use your actions to show her her value to you - spend lots of time with her, and let her set the pace of any discussion. be prepared to ask her questions that will give her an opportunity to open up and tell you the reasons behind her state of mind, but be prepared to back pedal if/when she has had enough or is not in the right frame of mind to communicate that way.

Showing her you care and that she is worth the effort will really make a big difference I am sure.
If she doesn't want to visit a counselor and you're the only one she's willing to talk to, then here's some basic counseling techniques:

  • Empathize; do not sympathize.
  • Do not say, "I understand," or anything to that effect. Often, people respond with, "No, you don't."
  • Do not say, "I'm sorry." I don't want your sympathy.
  • Listen.
  • Take what she says and reflect it back at her using tentative statements. Tentative statements start with "It sounds like..." and "It seems as if you feel..." and "What I hear you saying is...". These statements show empathy.
  • Divide the problem into parts. As a whole, it can get overwhelming for both of you.
As a suicide-hotline volunteer, I have a binder on these things. If you'd like more from the section on active listening and empathy, feel free to ask.

Quite a bit of the binder is common sense. If she calls you planning to hurt herself, ask her how she's about to do it. If she says with the knife in her hand, ask her to dispose of the knife somehow, like putting it behind a heavy couch. Same thing with pills and other weapons. Make sure she's safe.

Finally, if you at any time believe that she is, in the immediate future, a danger to herself or others, call the police. They can issue an Emergency Custody Order (ECO). That involves bringing her in and having a counselor evaluate her. The counselor can decide to send her to a medical facility until she is no longer a threat to herself or others.
(This is for the United States. While the terms used may be different, I'm sure there's a system in place where you live.)
^^ What Final said. And there is a suicide hotline that's easy to remember: 1-800-SUICIDE (no, I'm not kidding - that's the actual National Hotline number).

Talking about it and talking through it with her can be extremely helpful. Sometimes people in suicidal situations just want someone to talk to - and it's okay to talk about the deed and what it might mean (just because you talk about it doesn't make someone want to do it; in fact, talking about it can diffuse the mystery of it).

Question her about it and get her talking. And for you? Find resources that can help her. I had a friend a few months back who was in a severe health crisis and he was really planning on committing suicide. We talked for more than three hours but he'd settled it in his mind because he felt so bad and no one knew what he had, and they'd stopped providing the medications he needed for the pain (ongoing deteriorating condition since he was 15). I took the initiative to contact his residence hall and a residence hall director, and I also called his doctor. I also spoke to my supervisor about it since he initially came to see my supervisor for academic advice, and I did a write up for him.

Long story short: He was mad at the onset, but he really appreciated what I did. He's still alive, his doctor fought for the medications he needed, he's feeling healthier, and he has a new woman in his life who's kicking his butt! So all went well.

I can't promise this will happen for your friend, but hope is usually the problem. Someone who is suicidal no longer has any.
Thanks for all the advice.

I think an intervention is right out, her father is dead and she is the adult in her relationship with her mother. I'm pretty sure that either telling her mother or her friends about this would only give her one more reason to commit suicide. She despises showing weakness and the thought of those close to her knowing her innermost thoughts would kill her.

A road trip isn't a bad idea, she's always wanted to go to France. The problem with that is I barely know her and I think that if I suggested we go to another country for a week it might seem somewhat weird.

I think that I've broken every single one of you're guidelines so far, Final. I'm not very good with emotional situations, usually when people come to me for advice I tend to be brutally honest. That's probably not a good idea here though. When she talks to me all I seem to do is listen and nod my head. What I really want to do is to shake her and tell her to snap out of it. It feels like I should be fighting something but there's nothing there to fight against.
Nick Wolf, if I was suicidal and told others, I would really be looking to see if anyone cared, if there was any point in living. If no one did anything, or if they only talked a little with me, it's a huge message that no one cares. Why bother living? I'd kill myself.

If I told someone I was suicidal and they turned my life upside down, I'd be pissed as hell... but alive, and eventually grateful. Please do something. There must be others she's close to. There must be something you can do. If no one does anything, that will comfirm for your friend that life sucks and isn't worth the time or pain.
Do you know your friend's MBTI type?

While suicide is a very serious matter, it is strongly rooted in emotion, a strategy to reach her on an emotional level might be easier to develop if we knew her cognitive function order.

(If you don't know her type, asking her to take a self assessment test at this time will likely not give an accurate result.)
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so i read, you are not supposed to sympathize with the attempt to quit live.
then how about sharing the opposite perspective. make her sympathize with your fear of death and reincarnation and stuff.
Adding fear to someone who's already decided that life isn't worth living? It'll only intensify the conflict. And most likely alienate them in the process.