Advice on how to talk to and handle a friend who has suicidal thoughts?

So a great friend of mine who I’ve known for easily ten or more years now, he’s in a deep depression. Ever since I’ve known him (met him in a support group in 2012) he’s been in and out of depressions and sadly he’s been on medication all that time too.

On one hand I’m like, dude, just quit taking any meds (not cold turkey) and see how that goes, but he’s not willing to do that. For several years he was great, but lately it’s been going downhill again. This weekend he was at my place, while his wife and two daughters had a ladies only party thing.

Completely out of the blue he goes “maybe it’s best if i just jump in front of a train. I’ll be rid of myself at least.” and I did my very best to get him away from such thoughts, I made him realize it would be something he can’t come back from and who he’s leaving behind. I can only do so much though. Now I’ve been told in the past that when people say such things it’s often something they will not do at all, and it’s more like a “cry” for attention. But what if it isn’t? At least before he went home today he said it’s probably not a good idea to do that.

Next week he will be talking to a doctor about this, about maybe different medication, maybe he can go back to the meds he was taking in the years when it was going super well for him. Personally I fucking hate medication and I am super against it, i see it as a very last resort, or not at all. At the same time my father when he was still alive had anti depressants as well and it really was a gift and a curse for him. I can’t talk for others and thus I cannot be telling that what my friend is doing is wrong.

But if possible, maybe some advice on what I could do next? I mean me and his wife don’t talk a lot. But I do know her, I CAN contact her about this. Get her view on it. But at the same time I am really not sure if I should.


Not sure where to begin. I’ve been there myself, and I used to be one of those sorts of people that just shrugged off the idea of depression and suicidal thoughts… Until I went through it. Wasn’t so dismissive after that.

Is there a reason he feels that way? A lack of purpose? Money worries or other stresses? I’d personally reach out to the wife and raise the flag from a position of concern.

Sorry I can’t be of more help. :slightly_frowning_face:


You’re right that this may be someone seeking attention but it doesn’t sound like you shouldn’t take it seriously. It sounds like your friend isn’t having the best time.

The right thing to do, imo, (and I’m not saying you haven’t done this) is to make sure that your friend knows you’re there for them. But through regular contact, not through putting the emphasis on them making contact with you if they’re feeling bad. Check in and have a chat, but don’t ask if they’re depressed. Ask if they’ve seen/played/read anything good recently. See if they’d like to go do something with you.

I think it’s completely fine to contact his wife and say that your friend said something alarming and you’re worried about him.

I strongly suggest you don’t attempt to intervene or advise your friend on the medication that has been prescribed to them. The fallout from stopping certain medications can be dramatic, and some require patients to taper off their drugs as advised by their doctor at a rate or dosage that might not be possible with the prescription they have.

The right thing to do is probably to be supportive, rather than to try and fix a problem.


Back in 2012 he often told me he doesn’t see the purpose of life, what am I doing it all for. But he didn’t have a family back then yet, his wife was still his girlfriend, no kids yet. Back then I tried to ask him what makes him feel this way, but he always made it clear he doesn’t want to really talk about it.

Now this year and a part of last year hasn’t been the greatest for him and his wife. His wife had issues with her health due to her gastric reduction she underwent several years ago. So she’s been at the hospital quite a lot, and his mental state wasn’t really great either.

Plus he told me it feels to him that his relationship is starting to go downhill, but when I asked him about it and he explained a few things it sounds to me he’s seeing everything in a very negative way, which makes sense but honestly I find it overly negative. And in a subtle way I made it known to him that it honestly doesn’t sound too bad and he shouldn’t give up on that too easily.

I can contact her and tell her what he told me, that might result in him really not appreciating that I did it, but it might be necessary.

Oh he knows he can depend on me. It’s not like we talk every day, but at least several times a week via text messages or a phone call. When I ask if he’s been doing anything in particular most of the time he just says what he’s done but follows up with…“but what’s the point, you know?”

As for advising him on meds. The only thing I told him is that maybe he can discuss with his doctor if going back to the previous meds might help. The ones he took in the years that he felt so much better.

Despite the negative thoughts that he told me about, I definitely believe he had a good time overall. I did notice his mood changes, sometimes he clearly was very down, other times he was having a laugh at something funny that we watched in a show. From here on out I’m probably gonna reach out a bit more. Just letting him know his friend is there.

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Unfortunately I don’t have much to suggest other than what has already been said, however have you also suggested counselling? I know its not for everybody but sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know.

It’s personally not for me, however I know it’s helped others. Especially in identifying if there is a root cause which they can’t discuss with X (e.g. it’s a marital issue).

You will know your friend best so it’s difficult to say any single approach is ‘better’, for example my wife is a fiery redhead. Therefore if a friend of mine went to her about this type of thing she would give me hell (and probably make things worse) :stuck_out_tongue:.


I don’t really know either you or your friend personally so it’s hard to be specific, but I think there’s a few things to have in mind about depression and suicidal thoughts.

First, he’s talking about suicide, even joking about it. It’s actually a good thing if he’s able to talk about it with you.

Depression is like a disease. It’s something anyone can go through at some point in his life, so it’s something that needs patience, care and attention, awareness of the pathological nature of that state and some kind of treatment or a path to get better. Medication has a lot of caveats, because antidepressants work best in short periods of time and in some case it can make it worse, as it numbs the emotional pain, but pain also acts as motivation sometimes. There’s also a lot of studies now that shows that antidepressants don’t work as intended most of the time.

It’s like a disease also because we know now that people with suicidal thoughts have developed with time a pathological association between the emotional pain of life problems and the idea of ending your own life (which is an extreme way of ending an unbearable pain). It’s like some kind of crosswiring in the brain, as these thoughts are not normal to have on a weekly or daily basis. “Normal” people just know that the emotional pain is temporary, it’s just “a bad day at work” or a “shit happens” moment, it will get better or “I know how to deal with this, I’ll be fine”.

But it also needs time to make the pain more bearable by developing some ways to cope with it. Therapy is probably the best way to do it. It could be brief, just to see how it works, but also could be a few years deal if your friend has things to piece together. It takes some time to have some effects, but with the right therapist, it works.

The cheapest way to do it though is not original, but it’s kind of a lifelong journey of self discovery. It works 100% though. It’s finding some kind of activity, something special to each and everyone, like a hobby, for example, playing videogames, making art, writing… writing is great for getting out the thoughts that are too heavy for the mind. Volunteering is also a great way to find some purpose in life. Sports are also great, but it could be anything, even going on a walk or sitting on a bench in a park. It has to be something you do on a weekly or daily basis, something you enjoy or find peace doing it. It doesn’t have to be hard or meaningful, it has to be done regularly, always at the same hours if possible.

I hope it helps. Being there for him is also something that could help him get better with time. Talking about our struggles with a friend can be enough sometimes.


I forgot to say that he’s been talking to all kinds of I guess, professionals, throughout the years and when it comes to these thighs he’s never really been that forthcoming in terms of talking about it to me. Whenever he comes to hang out with me he just wants to chill with his friend, not really think too much about the bad shit and I do get that.

Ever since last year he’s also been going back to…something similar to a asylum, but not a real asylum. But he does have a room of his own there and from what I understand he stays overnight there at times too. I was hoping he would improve again, back to all the previous years that were just damn good.

So I got to know him in 2012 and I think it was 2014 that we had a falling out, because while I was getting out of my own depression slowly, he was pulling me back in, sticking around with him started to become dangerous almost, for my own health. Then in 2018 we let bygones be bygones and been great friends ever since. By that time he was married, two daughters, great stuff. It’s so sad that he’s falling back though.

So for many years he’s actually been talking to all kinds of people, took all kinds of meds and I bet I don’t even know half of the full story, because he just doesn’t seem that willing to talk about it with me and I can’t force him of course. As for anti depressants and how they can make things worse, that’s something I’m well aware of. My father took them too and he’s always warned me about them, to just never go near them, it’s not the solution. He told me about utterly disturbing thoughts he had after he had taken certain anti depressants when he was still alive, but at the same time it could have him feeling a bit better too.

What I’m gonna suggest to him is that he comes to visit me a bit more often. Usually he comes to chill here every two or three months, because he’s a family man, and I get that and respect that. But it might be good if he takes a few more breaks from his house and I guess family more often.

I’ll end it for now here, and I just want to say I appreciate any help of you guys here tremendously.


Can you play games together online at all? Maybe it doesn’t have to be you going there or him coming to you, if you can just be a positive experience that he’s got and can do things together online it might help.

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I’ve tried to get him to check out gaming. A year or two ago he managed to get a cheap PS4 for games like Fifa and he often asked me for recommendations for games, but no matter what game I recommended him he found them all way too challenging. He’s not really interested in trying out online gaming either.

It’s too bad because gaming in my book is one of the best ways for stress, pain, tragedy/trauma relief.

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That’s a shame as there are some brilliant online co-op games.


Already some fantastic stuff posted. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety disorders, honestly having a friend you can turn too is the biggest thing, as you get older friends become harder to come by.

I wouldn’t dismiss medication outright, there are a vast amount and variables for an individual. But I would hate someone to read the comments about medication and stop taking them since the right medication and mental health plan does work and speaking from experience it has probably saved me more than once.

There is no magic bullet, but as I said earlier with males in particular its seen as a weakness, so we don’t talk about it. Your friend is lucky to have you

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Thanks man, I really appreciate it. If only we could find the cure for depression for everyone, that would be so damn amazing. It’s insane that depression is seen as a weakness for males. But it’s true, sadly.

Years ago someone took his own life, a Dutch celebrity and it was said he was in a deep depression for a long time. What did people yell? That he was a coward for doing that, leaving behind his family is weak etc etc. They should realize that someone is very far gone when they do something like that, I am sure that man thought about his family and still decided to do it. People judge way too easily and quickly.

As for my friend, I definitely believe more and more it was for attention, because he said it a few times last weekend. If next time he’s here he says it again however, I’m gonna be less calm and understanding and for a change tell him he should quit with this stuff because it’s gets him nor me nowhere. I am not the person to really easily say how it is, but there’s a limit to it and it probably might be a good thing if that comes from someone he didn’t expect.

People used to tell me I can be a bit too soft with how I react to things or the way I say it, and I’m sure my friend is used to that. So it’s probably good if I tell him more sternly to just chill with it.