A very close friend of mine is depressed, self-harming, and suicidal. I feel responsible for helping him but he keeps refusing, believing that nothing can help anymore. What should I do? Should I try to help him with another approach or should I just give him some space?

Having someone close to you who is struggling with suicidal thoughts and depression can often make you feel helpless and powerless. However, you have already made the first step in helping and making a difference: you’ve noticed. Sometimes just noticing and showing concern can be very powerful and impactful. Talking about suicide is one preventative measure that I have seen help many of my suicidal clients. You’d be surprised at how often people are willing to talk about it. Most suicidal individuals are looking for relief and escape from their pain, not for an end to their life. Talking about it can bring that relief. Once you can get them talking it may be easier than you think to keep the conversation going. The next thing to help is really pretty easy: just be quiet and listen. Most of my suicidal clients report they often feel better for a bit when they feel like they have been heard. Don’t think you have to fix or solve their problems. They just need support and encouragement to do it.

I have a very stressful job in IT. I love my job – it’s probably the best job I’ve had. But I let the stress build up like a bag of garbage and I carry it around for months. Then, I usually let the bag explode on the people I love. I need something that will keep me from carrying around this garbage and letting it explode.

The first step is to begin to notice and pay attention to stress itself. Do you notice it, but push it aside? Or, do you only notice the stress when it’s too late? Begin to pay attention to stress itself – especially in your body. Some people feel stress in their neck/shoulders, some feel tightness in their head, chest, or stomach. Where is your stress? The next step is to begin to notice the events that happen before you feel the stress. Is it something someone says? Is it a work deadline you receive? Is it interpersonal tension at the office? What are the situations that seem to influence the stress? Once you’ve noticed how the stress feels and the events that happen before the stress comes, you can begin to think more about the stressful situations – particularly the thoughts that come to you about the situations. You need to manage stress easily instead of letting it build, carrying it around with you, then having it explode when you least expect it.