Posted by: Matthew | 2010-02-15

Friend suicidal


I have a friend who is severly depressed, it seems like everything has gone wrong - he lost his father a few months ago and his girlfriend just broke up with him. He was also in a car accident, which was very expensive.

He has been saying wierd things lately, like he can' t do life anymore, and I am very worried about him. What other signs do I need to look out for in case he wants to end his life? And then, what do I do to help?


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Our expert says:
Expert ImageTeen Suicide guest experts

Dear Matthew

Firstly, I would like to applaud you for being a very supportive friend. It seems like your friend is going through an exceptionally difficult time right now, and he is finding it difficult to cope.

Signs of depression include:

- Loss of interest in activities that the person used to participate in, and enjoy
- Sadness that doesn't seem to go away
- Anger and irritability
-feelings of helplesness or hopelesness
- feelings of guilt
- feeling stressed and tense
- excessive worry
- crying often
- over-eating or not eating enough
- sleeping too much or too little
- low energy levels and motivation
- feeling tired often
- missing school/work
-trouble with decision-making
- difficulties in concentration
- withdrawing from family and friends
- thinking about death and dying

Warning signs of Suicide include:

- talking about suicide- threatening to take his life.
-being deeply depressed-loss of interest in work/school, withdrawing from family and friends.
- a sudden lift in spirits- may mean that the person is relieved because their problems will soon end.
- preparing for death- e.g. giving away personal posessions.
- personality change

It is important to note that it is understandable that your friend might feel these emotions, as a result of the many difficult life events he has experienced recently, especially the loss of his father! If these emotions are interfering with your friend's ability to function it is serious.

Matthew I feel that your friend would benefit immensly from professional help. Encourage him to seek help from his doctor, a counsellor or a psychologist as soon as possible. If he doesn't feel up to it, you may even offer to accompany him to his first appointment. If you are really worried tell an adult that you trust, a counsellor, teacher, lecturer, someone from your place of worship. Your friend might be angry with you for telling someone, but as SADAG states "rather lose the friendship than the friend.

It is awesome that you supporting your friend, but you cannot take on the responsibility for making your friend better. You are his friend not his therapist.

If you feel that your friend is in immediate danger I would suggest that you take him to a hospital, casuality, or a clinic.

Do not hesitate to contact South African Depression and Anxiety Group for more information on (011) 783 1474. If your friend is experiencing an emergency or you think he may do something to hurt himself call "Toll Free Suicide Crisis Line " 0800 567 567

I hope that this reply is helpful

Good luck


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