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How to recognize when someone may be reaching out for help

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Approach
• Choose a time when you are alone
• Begin the conversation in a calm manner
• Help them open up by asking a question:
“How are you?”
• Share your specific observations:
“I’ve noticed you are staying home a lot”
“You seem really tired”

Listen
• Focus on compassionate listening
• Make eye contact
• Ask them how long they have been feeling this way
• Continue asking questions to keep the conversation going
Connect & Reassure
• Acknowledge and affirm their emotions
• Brainstorm helpful options and resources together
• Encourage and assist your friend in connecting to appropriate professional resources

Check Back In
• Treat a mental health crisis the same way you would treat a physical health crisis. Do not hesitate to check back in with your friend regularly as a trusted resource
• When in doubt, continue checking in. There is a high probability this person is still in need of your support

Verbal Invitations
Someone may be inviting support if they are
talking openly about:
• Ending their life
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Struggling to find a reason to live
• Feeling that they are a burden to those around them
• Feelings of being trapped

Behavioral Invitations
Some behavioral signs that may be inviting you to help:
• Increased substance use
• Researching suicide methods and/or tools
• Withdrawal from regular activities & relationships
• Giving away personal possessions
• Too little or too much sleep
• Intentionally saying goodbye

Emotional Invitations
Emotional invitations may be displayed as one or more of the following moods:
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Loss of interest & motivation
• Humiliation & Shame
• Relief and/or a sudden improvement in mood
• Irritability

Ask
• Take note and reflect back invitations out loud. Example: “I am hearing that you are working through some really big things right now”
• Connect these invitations to suicide. Example: “Sometimes when someone is grappling with such big issues they are thinking about suicide”
• Ask the question “Are you thinking about suicide?”
If someone is in imminent risk do not leave them alone. Call 911. If there is not an immediate safety concern call the Statewide Crisis Line directly at 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255 HOW