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Do You Have a Friend in Crisis?

Is your friend depressed?

If you’re a teenager with a friend who seems down or troubled, you may suspect depression.  But how do you know it’s not just a passing phase or a bad mood?  Look for common warning signs of teen depression:

  1. Your friend doesn’t want to do the things you guys used to love to do.
  2. Your friend starts using alcohol or drugs or hanging with a bad crowd.
  3. Your friend stops going to classes and after school activities.
  4. Your friend talks about being bad, ugly, stupid, or worthless.
  5. Your friend starts talking about death or suicide.

Depressed teens typically rely on their friends more than their parents or other adults in their lives, so you may find yourself in the position of being the first- or only - person that they talk to about their feelings.  While this might seem like a huge responsibility, there are many things you can do to help.

ASK

  • Get your friend to talk to you.  Starting a conversation about depression can be daunting, but you can say something simple: “You seem like you are really down, and not yourself.  I really want to help you.  Is there anything I can do?”

LISTEN

  • Know that your friend doesn’t expect you to have the answers.  Your friend probably needs someone to listen and be supportive.  By listening and responding in a non-judgmental and reassuring manner, you are helping in a major way.
  • Stick with your friend through the hard times.  Depression can make people do and say things that are hurtful or strange.  But your friend is going through a very difficult time, so try not to take it personally.  Once your friend gets help, he or she will go back to being the person you know and love.  In the meantime, make sure you have other friends or family taking care of you- your feelings are important and need to be respected, too.  

TELL

  • Encourage your friend to get help.  Urge your depressed friend to talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor.  It might be scary for your friend to admit to an authority figure that there is a problem.  Having you there might help, so offer to go along for support.
  • Speak up if your friend may be suicidal.  If your friend is joking or talking about suicide, giving possessions away, saying they wished they weren’t alive or saying goodbye, tell a trusted adult immediately.  Your only responsibility at this point is to get your friend help, and get it fast.  Even if you promised not to tell, your friend needs your help.  It’s better to have a friend who is temporarily angry at you then one who is no longer alive.

 

*If an emergency, call 911.  

If not an emergency, contact the

Phone: National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Lifeline Crisis Chat  (available 24/7)

Need help now? Text "START" to 741-741

Other resources:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

Know the Signs