13

So, earlier today my friend and classmate attempted suicide. He's in the hospital right now and will probably be okay, but I dread the next time he'll come to college.

I know there are triggers and we need to avoid them, but I do not know WHAT those triggers are. I know I can't just approach him and say something in the lines of "hey, I'm so glad you survived that horrible thing you tried to do", but I do not know exactly how to react.

Also, when he decided to attempt suicide, he cut himself from most communication and I had to recruit some of my other friends to help me get in touch with him, without letting them know exactly what was happening.

And now awkward questions are arising, such as "what happened?" and "why is he in the hospital?" and I do not know how much I can disclose.

Is it worse to tell them that my friend tried to kill himself or to run the risk of them approaching him and bringing up bad memories of what happened?

18

(I've been in all the parts of this dynamic over the decades.)


Do not worry about "bringing up bad memories." When you see your friend, tell him you are glad to see him. And mean it. If he wants to talk about what happened and how he feels, he will. Do not check up on him later "you don't still want to kill yourself do you?" but do check in:

are you ok?

or

how are you doing?

As you would with any friend. You care about this person, so show them that. They may need a therapist or psychiatrist, but you are not that, you are a caring friend. Be that.


As for your worries about disclosing what happened, this is easy. When people ask what happened or why he was in the hospital, you say something like:

You'll have to ask him for the details, I'm just glad he's going to be ok.


Finally, when you get a quiet moment with your friend, you can ask if there's something you can do, or avoid doing, to help him.

I wouldn't fuss too much about "triggers" or things you did and said that appeared harmless but drove him to suicide. That's not usually the pattern.

Some people need a friend who asks if they've eaten today. Some people need a friend who says "let's go get some lunch." Some people need to be treated just as they were treated before. Some people are happy to know they have someone to whom they can say "I don't feel safe" and get immediate support and help to stay alive, which seems to have happened with the two of you once already.

Your friend may not know what they need, but they're more likely than anyone else to know, so don't try to guess or ask anyone else, ask your friend.

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  • For the first part of your answer, I think it would be interesting to link to this article. It's about someone who doesn't like that people keep bringing up her suicide attempt (and would rather have her loved one show that they care in another way). – Ael Nov 17 '19 at 8:16
  • As someone who was in a similar situation (on any side), couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you – Lux Claridge Nov 18 '19 at 14:25

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