3 ways to support family and friends through a tough time

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Health and Wellness, Home and Living

We all go through difficult moments in life. But if you notice that a friend or loved one seems consistently sad or unhappy, it could signal they are struggling with their mental health and need the support of others. Mental health challenges can become serious, or they may even include thoughts of suicide. Knowing how you can help isn’t always straightforward. Here are three ways you can help support someone around you during a difficult time.

Watch for the warning signs
If someone is in distress or thinking about suicide, there may be changes in their behaviour or other signs that indicate they need help. These warning signs will be different from person to person and may include irritability, lack of interest in things they normally enjoy or withdrawal from social settings. They may increase drug or alcohol use, engage in high-risk behaviours, or talk about suicide or feelings of hopelessness.

Talk it out
If you notice a friend or family member is having a difficult time, be compassionate and supportive. Ask them how they’re doing and how you can help. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen and let them know you’re there for them.

If you’re worried someone might be considering suicide, let them know you care about them and want to help. Ask them if they’re having thoughts of suicide. Talking about suicide can help people feel less alone. Listen attentively to what they’re saying and acknowledge the pain they’re feeling. Remind them that they are deserving of support and that help is available. And remember to keep in touch and check back in to see how they’re doing.

Seek help
You can also help a friend or family member by encouraging them to connect with a counsellor, trusted person or crisis line.

For suicide prevention support, anyone in Canada can call or text 9-8-8 to connect with a trained responder. The 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in English or French. It offers compassionate, judgement-free and culturally appropriate support.

Find more guidance on how to talk with someone you’re worried about at 988.ca

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