How to talk to Someone in Emotional Distress
Show you care, connect on a feeling level, listen
- “I’m concerned about you and noticed you haven’t been sleeping, eating, going to class, etc.”
- “How are you feeling?”
- Reflect back their feelings and paraphrase: “What I hear you say is that you are in a great deal of pain and feel hopeless.”
- “I’m glad you called.”
- Listen with respect. Individuals in distress want understanding and care.
Ask about suicide directly
- “Sometimes when people feel sad, they have thoughts of killing themselves. Have you had such thoughts?”
- “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”
- “Have you considered suicide?” “How would you go about it?” “When would you do that?”
- Remember, asking about suicide does NOT put the idea in people’s minds.
Get help. Explore options. Offer resources.
- “What would help now?” ”Who can, who usually helps?” “How can I help?”
- Get assistance. Avoid trying to be the only lifeline for this person. Seek out resources even if it means breaking a confidence.
- “How would you feel about seeing the Campus counselor? Let’s call right now. I’ll walk over with you to see the counselor.”
Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm
Library – Suite 202
(843) 208-8379 or firstname.lastname@example.org