As fellow community members, you know your friends, roommates, students, etc., quite well. Often, you are in a position to offer considerable help to your friends and students since they already know and trust you.
If you are worried about a friend – SEEK HELP. Eckerd has many resources that can help you and your friends:
- 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares – 24 hour service that provides free, confidential resources and services by dialing 2-1-1.
- Campus Safety – Can put you in contact with an on-call counselor 24 hours a day by calling 727-864-8260
- CARE Team
- Counseling Services – 727-864-8248
- Outreach Services – 727-864-8407 or 727-864-8904
Helping a Friend
- Be yourself. Let them know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
- Listen. Let your friend or student unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
- Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or student is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
- Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
- If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.
- Argue with the person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “This actually isn’t that bad. Other people go through worse”
- Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. You may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to get your friend or student help and keep the person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
- Tell them how to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
- Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your friend or student’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.