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To Sam

Stopping suicidal friend

My friend, let's call her 'Emma', is 16. She has been self harming and tried to commit suicide. Lately, she's been writing worrying posts on her blog and says that she sees no way out. She says she can't get help because her mum has already dismissed people like her as 'Psychos who should be locked up' and if her mum finds out then she will feel even worse. Emma's been putting up with a lot of bullying and I'm really worried about her. I don't live close enough to offer her anything except the odd phone conversation: what do I do?
Ask Sam



I’m so glad you decided to get in touch with me to ask for some advice. I can hear how worried you are about your friend’s safety. You mention “Emma” has been self -harming, and has tried to take her own life before. It sounds like she is overwhelmed by her feelings at the moment, and I can understand your concern for her.

When people are feeling very low, it can sometimes make their thoughts so negative that they believe death is the only way for their emotional pain to stop. Just because your friend feels like this now, doesn’t mean she will feel this way forever. What’s important is that she gets the support she needs to feel some hope and positivity again.

Self-harm and suicidal feelings do not make anyone a ‘psycho’. That was a very hurtful word for your friend’s mum to use. It sounds like your friend feels her mum wouldn’t be able to give her the help she needs right now. That shouldn’t stop Emma from getting help elsewhere – she deserves to be supported. I would really recommend one of you tells another adult that you trust about Emma’s suicidal feelings. If someone gets to the point of trying to end their own life, then they need adult support to help them stay safe. This shouldn’t be something that you are left to worry about by yourself.

You could suggest the Emma speaks to her doctor or school nurse about how she is feeling. She has the right to speak to her doctor in confidence, even if she is under 16. However, the doctor may have to speak to someone else if he feels she is at serious risk of killing herself. You could also suggest your friend contacts ChildLine. Your friend can look at the confidentiality promise so she knows under what circumstances ChildLine might have to tell someone else about what she’s said.

If Emma isn’t willing to talk to anyone about her feelings, then you might need to think about talking to an adult yourself. Could you speak to an adult in your family, or is it possible for you to talk directly to an adult in Emma’s life? You’ve mentioned that Emma has a blog. Could you check if the websites has a way to report concerns for other users? If you are ever worried about her immediate safety, it’is okay to ring 999 and give them as much information as possible.

Remember, you can contact ChildLine yourself to talk in more detail about how this situation is making you feel. You are being a good friend for Emma, and ChildLine is here to support you both.

Take care


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