Let’s End The Stigma: 26 Do’s And Don’ts While Offering Support To Someone Who May Be Suicidal


Most of us know someone who is struggling with their mental health but don’t know how to help them. If you are looking for guidance, here are some do’s and don’ts that will help you understand the situation better and start a healthy conversation. 

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Do: 

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1. Check in on your loved ones, especially those who you know won’t reach out for help. 

2. Reach out to your friends & family who are known to be socially withdrawn or are having mood swings. 

3. Ask those who have gone through a traumatic experience, how they are feeling and keep tabs on them. 

4. Help create a ‘safe space’ where someone can talk about their feelings and fear without judgement. 

5. If you know someone is suicidal – give them hope and encourage them to get professional help. 

6. Look for warning signs (someone who keeps repeating ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ or ‘I wish I was never born’) and if you spot any, make sure you talk to them about it. 

7. Say things like – ‘This will not last forever’ and ‘I am proud of you for taking care of yourself.’ 

8. Educate yourself about their condition so you can have healthier conversations. 

9. Remind them that change will not happen overnight but you are there for them along this journey. 

10. Give them positive feedback on their latest projects and encourage them to take on new things. 

11. Show them their recovery may not be the same as everyone else’s but it will happen. 

12. Remind them that people need other people and there is no shame in asking for help. 

13. Reinstate that words like ‘depression,’ ‘anxiety’ and ‘suicidal’ are not negative – they are allowed to talk about them. 

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Don’t:

1. Tell someone who is suicidal or depressed that their behaviour is ‘attention seeking.’

2. Tell them that there are others who are ‘suffering’ more or have it worse. 

3. Say things like – ‘Your problems aren’t even that bad.’ 

4. Ask them to prove how much they are suffering or validate their feelings. 

5. Shame them for feeling vulnerable and call them weak for it. 

6. Tell them that they brought this upon themselves and it is too late to fix things. 

7. Make their suffering about yourself by cutting them and talking about your problems instead. 

8. Say things like ‘you’re lazy’ or ‘you are just trying to get out of work.’ 

9. Trivialise their emotions by saying ‘we all get sad, you’ll get over it.’ 

10. Make them believe that things cannot get better than this. 

11. Wait for them to make the first move, reach out instead. 

12. Belittle them for seeking professional help or taking prescribed medication. 

13. Stigmatise someone if they feel lonely, instead offer to keep them company. 

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Always remind those around you that help is available whenever they ask for it. 

If you or someone you love are suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or just need someone to talk to remember that help is just a phone call away. Encourage them to reach out to the following helplines in India. BMC mental health helpline: 022-24131212 (available 24X7), Vandrevala Foundation: 186-02662345/180-02333330 (24×7) or AASRA: 91-9820466726 (available 24X7). 





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