Mar 04 2009

Hi! I have a delicate question…

Published by at 8:28 am under The Author-Audience Connection

Hello! An acquaintance recently attempted suicide and, umm, I really feel that I should wish him well and offer whatever help I can, probably class help because that’s what I know how to do. We’re in the middle of midterms, so I would imagine that academic pressure is probably involved. I have a few concerns, though.

  1. I don’t want him to feel like people only care about him because he attempted suicide. (I mean, I run a website designed to help young adults write, so hopefully it’s easy to approach me for academic help).
  2. I don’t want to make him feel guilty or be the hundredth person to remind him about something he probably regrets.

Any thoughts about how to encourage him tactfully?

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Hi! I have a delicate question…”

  1. Chi.Rhoon 04 Mar 2009 at 10:43 am

    I think you should go ahead and offer assistance. Just throw it out there like…”if you need any help bro let me know and I will be glad to help.”

    That is what i would do.

  2. Wingson 04 Mar 2009 at 11:20 am

    Try to make sure they feel like someone cares. You know, that someone wants them around.

    – Wings

  3. Holliequon 04 Mar 2009 at 11:54 am

    I think Wings’ advice is sound. Let them know that they’re good to have around, offer to help them (or ask them for minor help). Remind them that they can ask you for help if they need it, or that you’re good at keeping secrets if there’s something they want to get off their chest (um, you just strike me as reliable and somewhat secretive, so I don’t think they’d have trouble believing that). I’d recommend against mentioning suicide unless he brings it up first.

    I’m not sure how well you know this person or how well they know you, so I’d suggest you use your judgement on this one. I hope everything works out alright for you and your friend!

  4. Ragged Boyon 04 Mar 2009 at 12:22 pm

    For obvious reasons I’m not great with dealing with people. I agree that mentioning the occurence is a no-no. Stay as far away from the topic as possible. Bringing it up can make him feel like you only care about the attempt. Be careful about saying something like “If you ever need someone to talk to, you can talk to me” or “I know how you feel”. It may seem like a nice thing to say, but it feels like a total intrusion on a person.

    You seem like a funny guy, try to make him laugh. Laughter makes people forget about their problems even if it’s only for five minutes. I’m don’t know your normal interactions with this person. But, if you two are good acquaintances, you could invite them to hang out sometime.

    Whatever you do, just make them feel like a person, not some freakshow. You’d be surprised at the number of people that have thought about or even considered suicide.

  5. Michaelon 04 Mar 2009 at 2:12 pm

    You said they were an acquaintance. Make them a friend. Reach out to them somehow with a common interest–if you don’t have one, make one, start something or introduce them to someone who does. Form a personal connection with them somehow and support that. Be prepared and willing to talk with them about things, but don’t force the issue. Or anything, for that matter.

    An honest connection to other people does wonders for anyone. It’s not as immediately necessary to a healthy life as, say, air, but it’s up there.

  6. Kosetsuon 04 Mar 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Wings and Ragged Boy have it right, I think. Don’t start any conversations though… And don’t OFFER to help. Just help. If you see him/her having problems with, I dunno, the fax machine or printer or stapler or something, just help them out. Pass them a coffee or soda or something when you get up to get yourself a drink. Actions are more likely to stick than words are, and are a lot less intrusive. It’ll be like changing the environment around him to be more accommodating to his recovery, rather than trying to heal him directly. That’s the best method, I think – he’ll be dealing with a lot of people trying to talk to him to make him feel better, but just creating a positive atmosphere will allow him to recover quickly on his own, and the scars will pass.

  7. Loyd Jenkinson 04 Mar 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Probably the best way to help is to be there. Be a friend. Spend time with him. Being there is often the best you can do. You might not even know how and how much you are helping.

  8. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Mar 2009 at 1:16 am

    I’m not good with this kind of thing, but I’d say the advice above is sound. No one near me has attempted suicide, so it really isn’t my area. Basically, I’d say to be there, not bring the subject up and to do little things so he knows someone cares. Discuss the subject only if he brings it up and make sure to tread carefully.

  9. Lunajamniaon 05 Mar 2009 at 6:10 am

    Yeah, just be there. When I’m not feeling so great I don’t want people asking questions all the time or giving me ‘advice’ or trying to make me feel better by talkin’, I just want them to (put bluntly) shut up and be there.

    Of course I don’t know if that would be applicable in his situation? Is he the type of person who likes to talk, or someone who enjoys silence?

  10. Lunajamniaon 05 Mar 2009 at 7:15 am

    I mean if I had just gone through that, I really wouldn’t want people offering advice or sending get well cards or anything like that. If a friend/acquaintance just showed up and didn’t say anything stupid, I’d be okay with that. It would be really awkward for me, maybe I’d still be mad/sad/want to die/confused, and talking with people wouldn’t be on my priority list.

  11. Stefan the Exploding Manon 05 Mar 2009 at 7:18 am

    Sometimes when you have problems you don’t want someone to give you solutions. You want someone to be a listening ear. If he’s a talky sort of person I’d say keep him talking about new and different things or maybe try to make him smile because you can’t be happy and depressed at the same time. It depends on what kind of person he is I guess.

  12. Tyon 09 Mar 2009 at 3:53 am

    I think most people think of doing it. I did, but it was more of a thought, never really attempted to do anything.

    A lot of people who give advice say ‘talk to him, make sure they know you are there’ I think that’s pretty terrible advice. AS you said in your comment ‘1. I don’t want him to feel people only care because he attempted it.’ That’s perfect. Most people are never around, then someone attempts suicide, they comfort him, then when they think everything is solved, they dissappear.

    I think the best advice, the best thing to do, is be his friend. Don’t say ‘I’m here for you’ BE THERE FOR HIM. Go hang out with him, call him, talk to him, become his friend. And if anything is still bothering him by then, he will most likely open up to you.

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