I’ve been on both sides of this situation. . .
I’ve had those thoughts before, and I’ve also had my best friend go through that as well. So I completely understand how hard and scary this can be, from both perspectives.
As a friend, what can you do to help?
1. Please, please, please tell an adult you trust.
They may have asked you not to tell anybody, and this can be a hard thing to talk about. It makes total sense not to want to break your friend’s trust in you, but this is the type of secret that you just CAN’T keep to yourself. As a friend there is only so much you can do yourself to help them, so you need to get them the professional help that they need.
Chances are, if they do get upset with you telling someone, that they will eventually forgive you and perhaps even thank you for getting them help. But that can’t happen if you don’t give them a chance to get better.
Remember: It’s better to lose a friendship than to lose a friend.
2. Listen, support and love them.
As much as you cannot offer them any professional help, you can still be such an important part of helping your friend in their journey. It’s so important to have friends and community to support you when you are going through a difficult season, and this is no exception. Be there for them.
Don’t walk away, don’t gossip, don’t dismiss their feelings. Your friend needs someone and they are worth fighting for.
I remember when I was fighting those scary thoughts, I also found it very difficult to believe or feel that I was loved or valued, and having friends constantly supporting and loving me really, really helped. They didn’t have to DO much, but them just being THERE was amazing. A simple “I love you” can mean so much when you don’t feel like you are.
3. Prioritize YOUR needs.
This may seem like the opposite of what you should do to help someone else, but it seriously is. You can’t help someone else if you yourself are not okay.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Talk to someone else about how YOU are feeling through this. This can be a really difficult thing to go through for you as well, and that’s OKAY and NORMAL. It can be draining to constantly pour into someone else without them being able to give much back, so make sure you are also being poured into elsewhere.
If you find these thoughts are triggering for you as well, make sure you reach out to a trusted adult as well. Don’t wait. You’re worth fighting for, too.
Remember that this is not your friends fault, that God hears every single one of our prayers and that this is not forever. Even if it takes a long time and it at times feels hopeless, brighter days WILL come.
I’ve seen it happen to others, and it has happened to me.
Not sure where to start to ask for help? Talk to a teacher, pastor or parent. Keep talking until someone listens. You can also check our Resources and Links page for some helpful phone numbers and websites.
You are not alone. You are strong. You are brave. You are loved.