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Helping Others

Talking With Your Friend

Some First Steps

Speak up! Start by sharing with your friend what you have noticed and why it concerns you. Have this conversation in a comfortable but private place, where the two of you can talk without being interrupted.

Let them know that you care about them and you’re worried about them.

Give specific reasons for your concern, rather than them how it’s going or if anything is wrong. General questions are often easy to brush off. Think about the changes you've noticed in them. "I've noticed you seem _____ (e.g., really down lately) and I'm worried about you."

Possible Responses

  1. Your friend responds by saying there’s nothing wrong.

    That’s okay. It may take more than one try before they feel ready to talk about what’s bothering them. By asking, they’ll know that you’ve noticed a difference and that you’re concerned. Try again in a few days.

    Keep in Mind...

    It can be really tough to talk about personal stuff. Your friend may not understand the feelings and thoughts they’re having. They may feel like it’s their fault or embarrassed that this is happening to them. They might be frustrated that they can’t just get over it by themselves or are scared of being seen as different from everyone else.

  2. Your friend tells you they don’t know what’s going on.

    Suggest they look at some of the help4me.ca information as a first step. Offer to sit with them if they want support. If they’d rather do it on their own later, send them the link.

  3. Your friend isn’t comfortable talking with someone they know.

    Let them know that through help4me.ca they can find phone lines where they can talk to someone who can be helpful.

  4. Your friend wants to talk with you.

    Let your friend share as much or as little as they want to.

    Although we often try to reassure people by saying things like “It’ll be okay,” this may be seen as “blowing off” their problems. It’s better to repeat back what they’re saying to make sure that you understand what they’re telling you. This also shows them that you’re listening.

    • Make it clear that you don’t blame them for their problems. Don't judge.
    • Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their thoughts or feelings. Your role is to be there, listen, and offer support. Try not to assume you know what’s wrong.
    • Ask questions to help you and your friend better understand what they’re going through. Assure them they don’t have to answer any questions that make them feel uncomfortable.

      If you’re very worried about a friend, you should let an adult know. This could be a parent, an elder, a school counselor, or another trusted adult. They can help you to figure out what resources there are and what the next steps might be. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone you know, take a look in the Get Help section for ideas on other adults who can help.

    • Keep your questions open-ended. Say “Can you tell me what you’re feeling?” rather than “Are you feeling sad?” Give your friend time to answer.
    • Sometimes, just being able to talk about one’s troubles is enough to feel better.
    • Ask “How can I help or support you?” rather than jumping in with your own solutions.
    • You may hear something that needs more than a friend’s support. Ask your friend if they’re thought about going for help. Suggest that they look for resources or go to the Get Help page on this site or that they talk with an adult they trust.
    • Don’t promise to keep secrets, if your friend is talking about hurting themselves or others or being hurt by someone then you need to share your worries with an adult or call one of the help lines for support.
    • Be ready to hear information that may be upsetting. This can be hard to take, so remember to take care of yourself. You can also talk to an adult or call on of the help lines.

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