Question #1

**See disclaimer below.

Question: Should you tell an adult when you notice a friend struggling with suicidal thoughts?  Even if the person threatens to take their life if you do?

Answer: The short answer to this question is YES.  This is especially true if you think your friend may be in immediate danger.  Initially, your friend may be upset with you for talking with an adult, but when they're feeling more like themselves, they'll be grateful.  

The long answer to this question is a bit more complicated.  If at all possible, the best course of action is to empower your friend to talk to a trusted adult about what they're experiencing.  A person experiencing suicidal ideation may feel like everything in their life is out of control; by empowering them to ask for help, you're placing control back in their hands.  You can even offer to go with your friend to speak to a trusted adult.  They may feel more comfortable sharing their experiences with you by their side.  Another suggestion is to offer to sit with your friend while they call a crisis hotline: 

  • The CARES Team in Erie County, NY provides 24/7 help and support to youth 18 years and younger who are experiencing a mental health crisis.  They can be reached at 716-822-HELP (4357).  
  • The Crisis Hotline in Erie County, NY provides support to youth and adults and can be reached by calling 716-834-3131.  
  • Outside of Erie County, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  

However, if you're concerned about your friend's safety and they are refusing to talk to a trusted adult, your only option may be to speak to a trusted adult yourself.  Remember: you are doing the RIGHT thing...even if it doesn't feel that way.

If you are worried that a friend may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, check out the video below for tips on how to start a conversation with him or her:

Jessica, a suicide prevention professional, gives advice on how to start the conversation with someone with suicidal thoughts.

Finally, If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself, check out this helpful toolkit from Just Tell One: 

Additional information and resources can be found on the following websites:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Prevention Coalition of Erie County

Just Tell One

Mental Health Association of Erie County

**Disclaimer: The following question was submitted to me by a student following a presentation I gave on depression and anxiety in youth.  The answer I provide is based on my personal experiences and professional knowledge as a Youth Peer Advocate.  However, this advice is not intended to replace the guidance of a mental health professional (ex. psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.)  Remember...if you or a friend is in immediate danger, call 911.