Supporting Troubled Loved Ones

Supporting Troubled Loved Ones

We all play a role in supporting those around us who are going through a difficult time, managing a mental health condition, or experiencing a suicidal crisis.

So often, our families, friends, faith communities, and workplaces know what to do if someone is facing a physical health issue like cancer, surgery, or an injury—but we don’t always know how to be there for those going through a difficult time related to mental health, severe stress, or even a suicidal crisis. A person’s social network plays a key role is helping him or her manage stress during a crisis and strong, positive relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and others can help prevent suicidal behaviors and reduce social isolation, providing all of us an opportunity to help the people in our lives.

That said, while we don’t always know what we can do, a recent public opinion poll showed the vast majority of respondents (78%) wanted to learn more about what they could do to help someone who is thinking of suicide.

How You Can Help

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The good news is that there are simple things we can all do to help. You don’t have to be a professional; no special training or certification is required, and you don’t even have to solve the situation. Instead, simple actions that demonstrate you care can make a difference for someone who is struggling.

Simple actions to remind someone they are not alone:

  • Text a friend you are concerned about
  • Ask a co-worker who is having a tough time at work to go for coffee or lunch
  • Offer to help with daily tasks like errands and appointments when someone is going through a life transition such as the death of a loved one, divorce, deployment, job loss, or a financial crisis
  • Offer to help schedule an appointment that may seem overwhelming to someone
  • Ask someone who is struggling to meet you for a walk or to meet up at a community event
  • Make a commitment to a friend to check in via text or a short visit on a regular basis
  • Send a note to a friend letting them know you are thinking about them 

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Resources for Help

If you are concerned about a teen in your life, there are tips available for how to start a conversation through the Seize the Awkward campaign and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Veterans Crisis Line, and the Crisis Text Line are valuable resources to share with anyone you are concerned about, but they are also a resource for you. Each service is available to provide guidance on how to reach out to support someone you are concerned about--whether that is a colleague at DHS, a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or anyone you think might be thinking of suicide.

Together, we can be there for the people in our lives and provide the support and encouragement they need.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis Line


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Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741

More Mental Fitness Topics

7 Strategies to Improve Mental Fitness

Self-Talk and Self-Image

Bouncing Back After a Setback

Avoiding Mental Interruptions

Post-Traumatic Growth

Practicing “Learned Optimism”

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