Robin Williams Anniversary

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It’s been 3 years since Robin Williams died by suicide.

Read the full transcript:

Three years ago, Robin Williams died by suicide.

After he passed, his wife Susan Williams revealed her husband had Dementia with Lewy bodies, which ultimately led to his death.

The comedian was also open about struggling with depression and addiction.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” — Robin Williams

We know anniversaries can be tough.

If you’re struggling today, please remember you are not alone.

Take care of yourself, and reach out to friends and loved ones.

If you or someone you know needs help, please reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741.

There is hope and help for people who are suicidal.

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17 Things Not to Say to Someone Who's Suicidal — and What to Say Instead

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When someone you know is feeling suicidal or struggling with thoughts of suicide, it can sometimes feel difficult to know what to say. Loved ones often strive to come across as caring, but sometimes things said with the best intentions can still come across as insensitive.

For loved ones who want so badly to know what the “right” thing to say to someone who is feeling suicidal, this one’s for you.

While knowing what you shouldn’t say to someone who is feeling suicidal is definitely important, we didn’t want to just leave it there without discussing what to say instead. To open this discussion, we asked members of our Mighty community to share one thing that didn’t help them when they were struggling with suicidal thoughts, and what they wished others had said instead.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Don’t say: “Suicide is selfish.”

“Please do not tell someone who is suicidal they are selfish. It’s probably the worst feeling in the world when you are accused of being selfish.” — Mackenzie W.

“I hate when someone tells me I was selfish because I attempted suicide. When we reach that point, we aren’t being selfish — we feel hopeless, we are tired of the pain, we feel worthless [and] we just want it to stop. These feelings can’t be ‘shaken off’ or gotten over as I have been told to do… It isn’t something that just ‘passes.’” — Melissa B.

Say instead:

“Acknowledge my feelings. Tell me how much I matter to you.” — Tanya W.

I think every person is different in terms of what they need to hear in those moments. As long as you don’t say anything that puts them down anymore. Like telling them to go do it or that it’s selfish. I think any positive attempt to stop someone from taking their life is a [try] worth making. Talking someone out of suicide is not an easy task. Its hard to know what the right words to say are… To me, the most important thing [is] engaging that person in conversation when they are feeling their most vulnerable.” — Sarah C.

2. Don’t say: “There are other people who have it worse than you.”

“I actually hate it when someone tells me I’m not depressed [enough] to even think about suicidal thoughts or [when they say] ‘others have it worse.’ It only makes me feel more worthless that some people think I am not entitled to my feelings and thoughts just because my reasons are not as bad as the others.” — Tris N.

“Invalidating my pain makes me not able to talk about it, which makes me worse. And quite frankly, how bloody dare you draw my illness into a comparison game! You would never tell someone they couldn’t be happy because someone else was happier.” — Vicki M.

Say instead:

“The best thing anyone said to me was something along of the lines of ’Is there anything I can do?’ or ‘How can I help you?’ I don’t need judgment. I need someone willing to sit with me and be there for me. At times that looked like someone just sitting in silence with me, or listening to me scream and cry. Other times it looked like someone driving me to the ER and sitting with me until I was taken back.” — Shelby H.

“What I’d love to hear: I understand you’ve been to hell and back but you will get through this and I am going to be there with you every step of the way.” — Rebecca H.

3. Don’t say: “I get sad too sometimes.”

“Please do not say, ‘You’ll get over it, I get sad too sometimes.’ People don’t realize being suicidal is more than just a feeling. It’s the numbness that forces you to harm yourself in order to feel something.” — Bree N.

Say instead:

“Instead say, ‘I’m here for you. You’re not alone. It’s OK to feel the way you do and I’m sorry I can’t understand better. Please know I do care for and love you. If you need someone, I’m here.’” — Bree N.

4. Don’t say: “Suicide is the easy way out.”

“I hate when people say someone lost by suicide has taken the ‘easy’ way out. Unfortunately, I have [attempted suicide] and it took literally everything in me to do it. It’s by no means easy at all. Also, the years of suffering are not easy at all. Its a long hard process and is by no means easy at all in any way!” — Travis C.

Say instead:

Express to them how much you care and offer your love and compassion. Stay with them. Hold their hand. Just the simple presence of someone they feel safe with could make a huge difference, and it’s even OK to not say anything at all. Just be there. If you feel that they will proceed with the act of self-harm, get them medical attention immediately.” — Sandy S.

5. Don’t say: “Oh, don’t say that.”

“Don’t tell someone not to say that thought. Sometimes expressing that thought aloud can make a massive difference in their life. By not allowing them to express themselves, you can invalidate their feelings and experiences which can have very negative consequences.” — Emily J.

Say instead:

“Instead of saying that [say:] ‘What can we do to help your feelings become more positive? I’m sorry you feel trapped, how can I help?’ [Those words] would be ideal for me.” — Karlee B.

6. Don’t say: “Are you doing this for attention?”

“You must never call them ‘insane’ or ‘irrational’ or even ‘attention-seekers.’ When a person reaches the stage of suicidal thoughts/trials,(s)he has gone through so much already and all the rationality has gone…” — Tasneem M.

Say instead:

Help them out by reminding them they are important in your life and they mean so much to you and life is far more spectacular and worth living than death.” — Tasneem M.

7. Don’t say: “Tomorrow is a new day.”

“I understand the intent here, but for many people, recovery is a very slow process and the idea of living another day is painful itself. Chances are, they could feel much worse tomorrow. For many people, suicidal ideation is fleeting, but for many others it lasts much longer.” — Lily C.

Say instead:

“Sometimes all is needed is understanding, no judgments and someone to just listen.” — Sharni B.

8. Don’t say: “You have no reason to feel like this.”

“’Your life is perfect. You have no reason to feel like this.’ To me this was the absolute worst. I’ve become great at hiding things from people so most of them don’t believe me when they find out about my struggles. They only see what I allow them to see and it hurts that they don’t understand.” — Jessica E.

“Never ever say ‘You have nothing to be sad about.’ Yes, it may be said with the best intentions, but it belittles somebody’s issues so much and makes them feel [ashamed] for feeling that way.” — Mollie O.

Say instead:

“Tell them they’re not alone and reassure them they have your support. Check up on them and don’t make them feel isolated.” — Mollie O.

9. Don’t say: “Think of how your family would feel.”

“‘Imagine the pain of your family members.’ That just totally and completely invalidates the [person’s] feelings.” — Julia F.

“’Don’t you think about your kids at all? Don’t you care about them?’ There are days when they are the only reason I am still here, but sometimes my mind becomes such a dark place that I become convinced they will be better off without me.”  — Mijenou M.

Say instead:

“Something more helpful would be to ask what they need, what can they do to help and validate their feelings by empathizing rather than saying how selfish and horrible it is.” — Julia F.

“When I am in this place, I could use a hug, not your shock and disbelief at my perceived ‘lack of caring’ or ‘selfishness.’” — Mijenou M.

10. Don’t say: “Push through it.”

“My dad always tells me to just not think about it and push through it. He says that’s how he does it, so it works. But that doesn’t work for me, it comes up on me so slow I never see the meltdown coming.” — Sierra K.

Say instead:

“The one thing I do like is being told I’m strong and I have beat it before and will again.” — Sierra K.

11. Don’t say: “I don’t want to talk about this.”

“’I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t want to talk about this.’ I don’t either. The last thing I want to say to a loved one (and I’m sure one of the reasons many don’t reach out) is that I don’t want to live. I know what people will hear: I love you, but that’s not enough. This shadow is heavier than you, it’s darker than the light you bring. But it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. It’s not a math equation. It’s the human mind, which is infinitely complex. It always hurts to know you want to leave people who would miss you. But it can reach a point where that knowledge is purely academic. Where the weight of things, it squashes everything else…” — Lacey M.

Say instead:

If I talk, I need you to listen. You don’t want to hear it or talk about it? I don’t want to live it. That’s sort of the point…” — Lacey M.

12. Don’t say: “But your life is so good!”

“Don’t say, ‘But your life is so good!’ It might seem good to you, but there’s a reason a suicidal person is struggling. It doesn’t matter if you think our reasons are valid or ‘big’ enough. The point is that our reasons are making us suicidal, and it might be irrational, or seem silly to you, but to us — it’s huge and it hurts. Telling us we shouldn’t be suicidal despite our ‘good’ lives just adds to the guilt we already feel.” — Jessica C.

Say instead:

“Just say ‘I’m right here, I’m with you,’ and mean it with your whole being.” — Laken S.

13. Don’t say: “Don’t be silly.”

“If someone comes to you telling you they feel like no one wants them and you reply with: ‘Oh that’s silly,’ even if you didn’t mean it in a negative light we’re going to take it as such…” — Santana M.

“Don’t tell them their feelings are ‘stupid’ or they are overreacting to something.” — Kim L.

Say instead:

“Maybe instead ask them what has them feeling this way… Don’t tell us it’s silly.” — Santana M.

“Instead remind them these feelings aren’t permanent even though they can’t feel this is true. [Tell them] you will hold onto enough hope for both of you until they come out the other side of this very dark place. And just be there without complaining.” — Kim L.

14. Don’t say: “You’re not praying enough.”

“[Please don’t say:] ‘You have so many things to be thankful for. You need more faith in God. You’re not praying hard enough.’” — Rhonda M.

Say instead:

“Instead try saying, ‘I don’t understand what you are going through, but you won’t be alone. I’ll go through it with you.’” — Rhonda M.

15. Don’t say: “Have you taken your meds?”

“For me, having people list off things to do on my own that may help (listen to music, take your meds, go for a walk, put on a fun movie, call a hotline, etc.) are the least helpful. It can feel minimizing, like assuming I haven’t already tried everything or that my pain is as superficial as me just needing to watch a comedy off Netflix. It also continues the isolation.” — Katie N.

Say instead:

“[Tell them] you love them no matter what. I’ve been suicidal since I was 8. I recently went through a depressive episode where I came to closer to suicide than I have in a long time. The one thing that kept me from doing i, was the one person who checks in on me all the time. The one person in my life who shows me love the way I need to be shown. The tangible, provable love that my brain needs to understand that I am loved, not ‘Oh you are loved by so many people.’ Depressed people need active love, and lots of it!” — Matthew G.

16. Don’t say: “You need to relax.”

“‘You need to relax and breathe instead of letting the drama get to you.’ We ‘know,’ OK?” — Jennifer D.

Say instead:

“Instead [say], ‘Im glad you brought this to my attention. I will do what I can to get you the help you need.” — Christa R.

17. Don’t say: “It’s all in your head.”

“That’s the worst because people who don’t understand mental illness really do believe your suicidal ideations are manipulations for attention or that it’s simply a matter of an attitude adjustment or new outlook on life. Please educate yourselves if you know someone with mental illness.” — MaryLou W.

Say instead:

“It’s better to ask if I’m safe. To show you care and not question me for my thoughts. You can’t always control it.” — Chayene B.

“I wanted to hear: I am here for you. I’m not going anywhere. You are not alone. I will help you through this. I love you. That’s it.” — Reg D.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via John Takai.

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20 'Red Flags' People Experienced Before They Were Suicidal

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Sometimes, suicidal thoughts can surprise us by creeping up slowly, seemingly out of nowhere. Maybe you’ve never felt suicidal before and are wondering how things got so bad so quickly. Or maybe you haven’t had suicidal thoughts for a long time, believing you were “out of the woods” when they turned up again, uninvited.

But it’s possible to take preemptive action against suicidal feelings before they occur. It’s important to watch for your personal warning signs because if caught early, getting help may become easier.

We wanted to know the warning signs that could indicate someone might be sliding into feeling suicidal, so we asked members of our Mighty community to share a personal “red flag” that let them know they might be starting to feel suicidal.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Whenever I wanted to stop feeling everything and just become numb. Once I reach that point, I’m near my breaking point to where it all becomes too much for me to handle. If I don’t feel anything, then maybe I can hang on just a little longer.” — Bree N.

2. I start isolating myself. I start to cry a lot. I’m not one to cry. I have to force myself out of bed. I start thinking about how the world would be better without me. I don’t really have anyone too close to me, so those thoughts are really easy to get.” — Samantha M.

3. It’s an unpleasant reality, but just keeping myself clean becomes harder and harder until I stop. I get it in my head that there’s no point getting up to shower only to do it again tomorrow… I think that’s something we all need to talk about more.” — Hollie S.

4. “I can seem to snap at nothing and will have a big fight with loved ones and be unable to control my anger. Sometimes I will be crying uncontrollably. Or worse, I might go really numb and quiet and tell everyone that everything is fine and be utterly emotionless and withdrawn.” — Jacqui K.

5. “The biggest warning sign for me is when I don’t care about the things I live for: writing, art, my horses and animals, making a difference. When I stop caring, I know I’ve lost myself in suicidal ideation and will struggle with the desire to attempt suicide.” — Sarah H.

6. “I either slept 10 plus hours or never slept at all, and I stopped talking to my friends about my day-to-day life.” — Devon S.

7. “[The] biggest warning sign for me is losing my emotions, like all my senses are dulled. It’s like life hurts too much for me to even feel anything anymore. That’s when I know things are really bad — when I can’t even care enough to cry, when I run out of tears.” — Vickie S.

8. “I stopped wanting to cook, talk, move. My depression gets worse and I start putting things in boxes because I can’t stand to look at them. I hide books and clothes because they remind me of good times and it’s not a good time for me.” — Becca T.

9. My warning sign is when I don’t crave any food whatsoever, I never feel hungry and no food sounds good, ever. Once I realize I haven’t eaten much lately or that I say no to snack foods I usually love, I’m in the beginning of an episode.” — Zoe R.

10. “I start to struggle with normal everyday things which I can handle when I’m well. Depression and/or anxiety hit and I try to push through as I’m not sure what else to do, and I end up so low that I start having suicidal thoughts. It’s like being at the top of a steep hill on a bike and knowing you’re about to be pushed off the edge with no brakes, and you aren’t even sure why you’re at the top in the first place or how to move away from the edge. I wish I had a way of intervening earlier but I’m yet to find those strategies.” — Lucy M.

11. “I push everyone away, even my therapist sometimes. I don’t have the energy to talk to anyone. Actually, this was the only time my chronic suicidal thoughts scared my therapist. Up until this point, she never thought I would act on them, but when I started shutting her out, she was concerned.” — Alyssa P.

12. “I actually feel it weeks before it becomes serious. I start losing interest in everything. I don’t want to get out of the house and everything seems like a chore or impossible to do on my own. Last night I completely shut my husband out. I didn’t even know he was talking to me. I was just lost in space.” — Crystal T.

13. “I stop sleeping as much and my nightmares get worse. I’m tired, but it’s like having a bunch of energy while at the same time feeling nothing. Usually when I’m like this I tell all of my supports because I know the next couple of weeks/months are going to be tough.” — Tanna S.

14. “Right before I plunge into a major depression, I get a superhero dream. It is the most enjoyable, wonderful dream. I can fly and have super powers. No villain can stand against me, and I rescue people. The dream feels so real, and so delicious that I don’t want to wake up from it. When I have that dream, I know I’m in for a dark time, and how bad the depression will be is proportional to how sweet the super hero dream is.” — Penelope P.

15. “Lots of morbid jokes. Usually jokes about suicide. If you press me, I will deny it has any relevance. I might not really realize it or I am embarrassed because at that point, I feel like I’m making a big deal about something that is going to go away.” — Emily A.

16. “When songs that automatically make me cry start playing over and over in my head. I tell my brain to stop but it just keeps playing those dangerous songs. That’s a sign a storm of suicidal ideation is brewing.” — Salma A.

17. “ I become anxious, but apathetic. Usually I try to control or hide my anxious, needy side. When I stop caring about my reputation, sanity, security, self-worth and future and just look for anyone to talk to.” — Molly L.

18. “I start going out more, getting drunk and having a good time in the evening and not getting back till about 5 a.m. and then sleeping until 5 p.m. and going out again. I start asking weird questions and start having quite intrusive thoughts and can be quite uncomfortable to be around because my mood swings are so intense and so quick.” — Sophie E.

19. “I tend to lose track of everything. I zone out of reality. Days pass and I feel nothing, like a void. I stop eating, showering and cleaning up after myself. I get pale faced and expressionless.” — Ray W.

20. “When I get bouts of suicidal depression, the first thing I don’t notice is that I stop doing my makeup. Sounds like nothing, but makeup is a huge part of my identity and it slowly decreases importance in my life as I get more depressed/suicidal.” — Emma B.

If you identify with any of these warning signs, please reach out. You deserve to get the help you need.

Visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via Transfuchsian.

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I Am No Robin Williams

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Like most of you, I never had the chance to meet Robin Williams. Yet so many of us feel like we knew him so well. I mean, I feel like I’ve lost my funny uncle Robin. By the time I was born, he was already in our living room most nights “calling Orson.” And even though Williams was known as a “character” actor, there was always something so raw about him. He brought himself to all of those imagined circumstances: the wit, charm, and yes, even the pain.

Back in 1987, the same year “Good Morning, Vietnam” came out, I lost my father to suicide. I was 7. Much like Robin Williams, my father lived with addiction and depression. It’s not uncommon for them to go together. Sometimes people self-treat with substances because of mental health issues, and sometimes people become depressed after using substances. Chicken or egg, without proper treatment, suicide is often the end result.

Naturally, I grew up too fast and kinda slow all at the same time. Maybe that’s why I was still watching Disney movies in 1992 at 12 years old. In any case, there was something about “Aladdin” that spoke to me. I watched it so many times, I can still quote nearly every word. It wasn’t the street rat with a golden heart who gets the princess that had me hooked (though, it did give me hope). It was Genie. The sad but lovable wish-granting friend with a 1,000 voices played by Robin Williams. I was fascinated that a man could create so much life with just his voice. I wanted to do what he did.

I can say this without question: I became an actor because of Robin Williams. It was while watching “Aladdin” that I realized people could get paid speaking into a microphone. I would practice silly voices all day long (sorry, Mom). I am no Robin Williams, but eventually, people did start to pay me to speak into a microphone and even act in front of a camera.

As fate would have it, I have had my own struggles with depression and anxiety. Most of my late-teens and early-20s were spent on a cocktail of pharmaceuticals trying to “fix” my brain. It was like “What Dreams May Come” and “Patch Adams” all mixed up in my head. Luckily, I had a great support system (thanks, Mom) and eventually found the right treatment tools.

In 2007, I had an idea to start a community called NoStigmas where people with mental illness wouldn’t have to feel ashamed and could connect with peer supporters. Since then, the nonprofit movement has grown, and people all over the world are sharing their stories and finding no-cost support. Not surprising, a great number of the NoStigmas community are artists.

When I saw the preview for “The Crazy Ones,” I was upset by the stigmatizing title. People throw the word “crazy” around too much without understanding the impact it has on those with mental illness. But maybe there is another way to look at it. As a badge of courage, like Williams did. That man was “crazy brilliant” and shared it without apology. As he said, “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Thank you for that, Robin Williams. Thank you for the many years of entertainment, inspiration, and friendship. Thank you for living your life in the public eye and sharing your story with the world. Nanu-Nanu!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via Facebook – Good Will Hunting

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Why Birthdays Are Hard for Me as Someone With Mental Illness

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Birthdays are hard. I try to will myself to smile and laugh authentically, but they feel fake more often than not. Birthdays just don’t feel worth any celebration lately. Instead, guilt consumes any sliver of happiness I can muster. The decorations, singing and warm wishes come from sweet sincerities — yet they feel like absolute mockery to the depths of despair I call my mind.

But wait… isn’t life worth celebrating? Isn’t it a privilege to have another year of adventures, experiences and wisdom? Yes. And yes. Of course. I don’t deny this. Rather, I recognize I am blessed beyond comprehension to be alive each new morning. Despite all of the suicidal  thoughts and manic-depressive behaviors, I am still here. I’m alive and I’m grateful for that every day.

But I also constantly battle shame for struggling in the manner I do. My brain loves to scream its lies in attempts to muffle the whispers of truth I know at the core of my being. This guilt and those lies overwhelm me every birthday. And this is why: I’ve fought away passive suicidal thoughts almost every day for years — but, active ones still plague me every once in awhile too. I’ve self-harmed. That presented the possibility of infection, severe sickness and even death. Those didn’t happen. Thank God. But, they could have. I feel guilty that I have had a great life so far, I adore my friends and family and I would never intentionally hurt them — yet, I subconsciously consider taking my own life more than I care to discuss. I don’t know why my brain is afflicted with such a weight. I love my life. I consciously fight for it. Every life has value. My brain just doesn’t seem to agree with me all the time.

So when everyone sings happy birthday cheerfully, my brain simultaneously releases its arsenal onto my soul. It reminds me of every close call. Every sleepless night. Every cry for help. Every desperate prayer. It reminds me that even though I am alive, I have brought some people through hell and back to stay that way. My brain holds me accountable. It tells me I’m a liability. A burden. All of this is untrue. I know that. Thankfully, I know that. However, in these moments, what is true can be overwhelmed by what I feel.

Every birthday I fight to enjoy it. I fight to accept the positivity and warmth extended to me. I fight for that gratitude muffled by rapid thoughts. I fight to remember all of the great times masked by the terrible. I fight to remember that not many kids even make it to 22. How blessed I am.

I know I’m not the only one who feels too much on their special day. Too much pain and not enough celebration. Just remember this: your feelings are real and they are powerful, but they are not forever and do not deplete hope. Focus on the whispers behind the screams. Focus on that light — no matter how small — in the midst of darkness. Focus on hope. There is always hope. Allow my transparency to serve as such. You are not alone. You are loved. Your life is worth celebrating. Your day is worth celebrating. Try your best and fight for this day — it’s your day. You are alive. I am grateful you are. I’m sure others are too. Happy birthday! May there be many more.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via juliannafunk.

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Reasons You Might Not Notice Your Friend Is Thinking About Suicide

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Members of The Mighty’s mental health community share reasons why their friends may not know they are thinking about suicide.

Read the full version of 15 Reasons You Might Not Notice Your Friend Is Thinking About Suicide.

Read the full transcript:

Reasons You Might Not Notice Your Friend Is Thinking About Suicide

“I put on a mask whenever I’m around people and it’s exhausting. Secretly I’m screaming in my head.”

“I smile all the time. I probably look like one of the happiest people out there. I’d rather have them think that than worry about me.”

“I have a loving husband and two beautiful children. I only post on social media about them. I don’t talk about what’s going on with me.”

“I am naturally solitary. No one notices when things are wrong if they are used to not seeing or hearing from you for weeks on end.”

If you are concerned about a friend, here are some things you can do:

Ask them if they’re struggling – and don’t be afraid to be direct.

Be present and ready to listen if they need to open up.

Validate their feelings and remind them they’re important.

Ask how you can help them, and refer them to resources.

Don’t forget: If you’re a concerned loved one, you can call the hotline too.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800)-273-8255.

Crisis Text Line – Text “HOME” to 741-741.

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