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Finding and giving help

Don't be afraid, too shy or too proud to talk about your problems or feelings.


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Talking about your problems and feelings is natural and nobody should try to stop you showing your emotions or asking for help when you need it.

  • Deciding who to talk to is the first step. If you can’t talk to anyone you know, visit a doctor or counsellor and tell them how you feel.
  • If you work up the courage to talk to someone and they are unable to help or don’t help you, then try again and keep trying until you get the support you deserve. It might help to talk to a support organisation like Samaritans.
  • If you’re feeling down, angry, upset or depressed, then talking about your feelings can help you to work through your emotions.
  • Actually saying what’s wrong and hearing someone else talk about it can put a whole new perspective on things. The person you talk to might also suggest options that you had not thought of before.
  • Talking about your feelings can be a huge relief. If you aren’t able to say how you are feeling, then try writing everything down and giving it to a friend, family member or doctor.
  • If you bottle up your feelings, then emotions and tough situations can seem overwhelming. Don’t try to manage everything by yourself; there are people willing to help you get through ANY situation.
  • See the help section for information on some of the main support organisations and services available.
  • Find out about confidentiality here.
  • Read more about having tough talks here

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, you should immediately contact your local doctor or go to the A&E department of the nearest hospital. You can contact the emergency services by calling 999 or 112. The doctors and hospitals in your area will be listed in the Golden Pages.

Helping someone at risk of suicide or self-harm:

  • Don't leave your friend alone. If necessary, call 999 and wait for help to arrive. Let your friend know that you will stay with them until help arrives or offer to go with them when they seek help.
  • If a friend tells you that they feel suicidal or are at risk of self-harming, it is important that you encourage your friend to get help and that you also talk to someone who can help.
  • Never keep a suicide plan a secret. Even if your friend has asked you not to tell anyone, it is important that you talk to a professional so that your friend can get the support that is needed.
  • You and your friend can talk to a doctor, school / college counsellor or support organisation such as Samaritans (116 123).
  • Be open and listen if a friend or family member wants to talk about their feelings or problems. Many people who are thinking of suicide try to talk to a friend first.
  • Support your friend without judging them. Let them know that you are ready to help them or keep them company if they need it. Don't get angry with them if they aren't ready to talk. Use phrases like "I'm worried about you and I want to help" or "Whatever's bothering you, we'll go through this together".
  • If you are worried about someone and not sure how best to help, then talk to a doctor or contact Samaritans (116 123) for confidential support. Click here for other organisations that can help.
  • For more on what to do if your friend is suicidal, check out our article here.

Look after yourself:

It's important to take care of your own health as well. You might be worried, frightened or stressed if a friend confides in you about their problems. Remember that you can offer your friend support and encourage them to seek help; however you are not responsible for your friend.

It is important that you talk to someone you trust (maybe a family member, school counsellor, doctor or support organisation) and share any worries or feelings with them. Remember, that no matter what the question or the problem, there is always someone that can help.

Young man holding his head in his hands at a group therapy session.

Talking to a friend or support organisation can help.

Helping someone who is depressed:

  • Don't ignore your friend or pretend that everything is okay and normal. It's important to ask, "Are you alright?" "Are you depressed?" or "Do you want to talk about what's getting you down?"
  • Remind your friend that you are there for them and you want to help.
  • Your friend might not want to talk to you so it's important to be patient and sympathetic.
  • Don't criticise or complain that your friend is lazy or isn't making an effort. Remember that depression is NOT treated by pulling yourself together, getting on with it or ignoring the problem.
  • Encourage your friend to visit a doctor and ask if they want you to arrange an appointment. If they don't want to do this or the doctor's appointment doesn't help, then encourage them to talk to a support organisation such as Aware.
  • If your friend talks about suicide or hints that they want to self-harm contact a doctor or the Samaritans (116 123) immediately. If your friend refuses to talk to a professional, do so yourself and ask for advice.
  • If you think your friend is going to hurt themselves, call 999 or 112 and stay with them until help arrives. Also try to calm them down and get them to talk.
  • For more on what to do if your friend is feeling depressed, check out are article here.
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Published December 19th, 2012
Last updated February 8th, 2017
Tags help mental health suicide
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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