While walking down the halls of school to my classes, I would constantly hear people saying rude things about me, like I was a ‘cutter’ or that I dressed weird.

For years and years, this beat down on my self-confidence.  Even when I was with a group of friends, I felt horrible. I spent a lot of classes crying silently or running out of the room. I felt best when I was at my house, without all the drama. Then, one day I had to stay home from school I felt so happy that day. I didn’t have anyone or anything to deal with.  I wanted everyday to be like this, but I couldn’t think of a way to stop going to school, except for killing myself, so I overdosed on drugs. 

Protective Factor Framework:

Protective factors are attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and circumstances that build resilience. There are four main domains where protective factors can be identified and connected to kids. The presence of protective factors decreases the likelihood of potentially harmful behaviors such as substance abuse, school failure, teen pregnancy, violence and suicide. With resilience, individuals can flourish even under adverse circumstances.

Every one of us faces times of anxiety, stress and pain. These suggestions are ideas for ways to help you get through the tough times. Taking these small steps can help reduce even normal levels of stress that come with life as a young person. They won't help everybody all the time, but even a little can make a difference.

Belonging Matters

Your classmate gets you. Your team-mate gives you a chest-bump. You get a hug from your best friend. They may not realize, but each of them are all helping you reduce stress levels and boost well-being. Research shows that when we're stressed, we look for support from our friends and family first. Makes sense, right?
If the problems in your life are stopping you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference. And if you're having trouble, know that you are not alone. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of youth in America are living with diagnosable mental health issues. These numbers increase as young people enter the adolescence age brackets. Many don't get the help they need.
Most young people in crisis don’t consider or attempt suicide. There may come a time, however, when someone you know and care about starts having a bad time or showing signs of suicidal behavior. Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. It is estimated that 80% of those thinking about suicide want others to be aware of their emotional pain and to keep them from dying.

realityCheckTalking about suicide or suicidal thoughts will not plant the idea in someone’s mind. Instead, it can come as a great relief to that person to know that someone cares.

It is also not true that people who talk about killing themselves will not actually try it. It is important for you to take them seriously.

You may know your friends better than their own parents do. And you may observe that something is bothering one of your classmates even when your teachers and guidance counselors don’t have a clue that anything is wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to get help for a troubled friend because you’re afraid they’ll accuse you of telling on them. Just remember that silence places you both at risk—your friend for death by suicide and you for tremendous feelings of guilt if that happens.

Never promise to keep information about suicide a secret.

timeTime can be crucial when dealing with a friend who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. It’s not unreasonable to regard these thoughts as a direct threat to your friend’s life. It is also not advisable to think that you can handle things on your own. You can’t. Nobody can.

Take the person seriously. Don’t assume they’re just being dramatic or wanting attention. And don’t be afraid of making them mad at you. Wouldn’t you rather have them alive?

Tell a trusted adult, someone who will know what to do. Get them the help they need.

Silence can be deadly.

Feeling hopeless or suicidal is a common experience. You are not alone. It is estimated that one in six people feel seriously suicidal at some point in their lives.

If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it’s not that solutions don’t exist, only that you are currently unable to see them.

talkBubbleFind someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. If you can’t talk to your parents, find someone else, if not a friend, then a trusted adult: a relative, program leader, teacher, school nurse or guidance counselor. (For other possibilities, go to Resources in Your Community.) Asking for help does not mean that you are helpless or can’t do things on your own. Asking for help is an act of courage, not a sign of weakness.

Thoughts of ending your own life don’t necessarily mean that you want to die, only that you have more pain than you feel you can cope with right now. The crisis you are experiencing is real. Although it may seem to you that there are no solutions, why not give somebody else a chance to come up with something? Others may be thinking more clearly than you are at this time. Let someone in your life help you.

Do not keep suicidal thoughts to yourself. Tell someone you trust.

Avoid using alcohol or drugs when you are feeling desperate or in crisis. Yes, they can numb your feelings but they can also affect your judgment. Try this instead. Make a promise to yourself. Say, “I will not hurt myself for at least 24 hours." Then think of three people you know that you might want to talk to. Reach out to one of them and ask if you could talk to them if you are feeling really badly. Ask for help.

itwillgetbetterSuicidal crises are almost always temporary and once over, might never come again. Feelings change, perspectives change, life can be surprising and time can make all the difference. Although you may be feeling terrible right now, remember that you are important, that there are people who care about you, need you and would miss you if you were gone. You have a unique place in the big picture.

You matter.

You can get help.
While just talking can make a big difference, the best way to help your friend in crisis is to talk to a responsible adult about your concerns. This could be a teacher, guidance counselor or other member of the school staff.  It might also be your parents, a member of the clergy or someone who works at the local youth center. If the adult you have approached doesn’t take you seriously, talk to someone else. If you need help finding that “someone else”, call 800.273.TALK.

After consulting with a responsible adult, take the following steps to help a suicidal person:

1

Show You Care

Let your friend know that you really care. Ask about how they are feeling. Listen carefully and calmly with your full attention to what he or she has to say. Speak slowly and softly, while taking your time and showing patience and understanding. Never ignore or dismiss their pain or feelings. Begin the conversation: 

  • “I’m worried about you and about how you are feeling.” 
  • “You mean a lot to me and I want to help.” 
  • “I’m here if you need someone to talk to.”

Critical information for urgent situations

2

Ask the question: 
Are you thinking about suicide?

Talking with a friend about suicide will not put the idea into their head. Be direct in a caring, non-confrontational way. Ask the question:

  • “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
  • “Are you feeling like you want to die?”
  • "Have you been thinking about suicide?"

Things a suicidal person might say

3

Offer Hope

Offer hope that there is a better future and its worth fighting for - that things will get better. Keep the conversation positive, while still being careful to be understanding. Reassure them that their life has purpose and meaning and they belong. Suggest:

  • “There are people in your life who would be really hurt if you weren't there.”
  • "You really matter to me and to others, like ____.” (name someone they care about) "You are not alone."
  • “It's hard to see it right now, but this will pass with time. Things will get better.”

Read stories about how some kids found ways to hope for the future

4

Help Them Get Help

If a friend tells you they are thinking of suicide, never keep it a secret, even if they ask you to. Even when you're not sure. Do not try to handle the situation on your own.  You can be the most help by taking your friend to someone with professional skills to provide the help that he or she needs. You can continue to help by offering support and staying with them. Reassuringly suggest:

  • "Let’s talk to someone who really knows how to help. Let’s call the crisis line now.”
  • “How about we go talk to _______ (name a person) right now. I know you like them and they have helped others.” (Be specific, if you can, about how they could help)
  • "I'd like to go with you. I want to be there for you.”

Find someone to help

Remember: even when you're not sure, never promise to keep information about suicide a secret.

Society teaches us not to show our weaknesses, so we learn to stay quiet. It takes great courage to reach out and ask for help. It can also save us.

  • Choose a safe person to approach — someone you trust, someone who likes you and understands you.talkBubble
  • Make an appointment – it doesn’t have to be formal, just ask for a time and a place when there won’t be any interruptions or distractions.
  • Be prepared – give some thought to what you want to say so there won’t be any misunderstandings.  Write it down if you think that will help.
  • Think about what you would like to get out of the conversation – if you have any ideas about what might relieve your situation, let the person know.
  • Bring a friend, if you feel the need – it can help you feel supported and make it easier for you to ask for help.
  • Be honest.
  • Listen to what the person has to say– this person cares about you and wants you to feel better.congratulate
  • Congratulate yourself on having the courage to ask for help.
If you choose a person who doesn’t believe you or doesn’t want to listen, look immediately for somebody else. Not everyone reacts well to people asking for help. Not everyone knows what to say. It’s not your fault. Keep trying until you find the help you need.
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