Perhaps you have noticed that your friend acts differently or is calmer than usual. If something arouses your suspicions, follow your instincts and find out what happens. If you're going to ask a friend if everything is okay, be sure to pick a good time to talk. Know how to approach the conversation in a helpful way and how to show your support. Finally, encourage him to seek outside help if necessary.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare to Speak
Step 1. Have a private conversation
Pick the right place to talk to your friend. If you ask him in front of people, he may be embarrassed and not answer honestly. For example, if they are having coffee or lunch, your friend may not want other people to hear their response, even if they are people they do not know. If you want to talk, choose a time when you are alone. Keep the conversation private where there are no prying ears.
Talk in the car, on a walk, or in another private place
Step 2. Eliminate any distractions
Don't ask your friend when he's in the middle of a job, using his phone, talking to someone, or when his mind is thinking about something else, like the next day's test. Ideally, your friend should have some time to talk without interruptions or distractions.
For example, if you are at your friend's house and his parents or siblings interrupt him frequently, go somewhere where there are no interruptions
Step 3. Be ready to speak
You should feel ready to listen, speak, and support your friend. Don't get distracted by anything and make time for your friend. Don't have other things on your mind or things that can distract you, like waiting for a phone call. Give your friend some free time.
- Remember that you cannot solve someone's problems. If the person isn't ready to talk or doesn't want to, feel ready to change the subject.
- If you think you might get nervous talking about something personal, you can jot down a few points you want to make.
Part 2 of 3: Addressing Your Concerns
Step 1. Take a friendly but caring approach
When talking to your friend, be warm, open, and friendly. Show that you are concerned and that you want to help and support him. While you can choose to approach the conversation casually, make sure he knows that you care.
- Say "I'm worried about you and I want to know if you're okay."
- Nonverbal cues can help communicate your concern. Sit across from him and make eye contact when you speak to him. If you feel it's appropriate, you can put a hand on his shoulder to let him know that you care.
Step 2. Ask him how he is
Once you both seem ready to talk, start asking a few questions. You can start by simply asking "Are you okay?" Keep in mind that there are many ways to know how your friend is doing. Ask "How have you been lately?" You can also ask “How are you doing? You want to talk?".
Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. Simply speak to him and allow him to respond however you wish
Step 3. Mention something specific
If there is something that worries you or causes you uncertainty, talk about it. Especially if your friend is surprised or somewhat defensive about your questions, explore yourself a bit more. Talk about what you have noticed and why it worries you.
- For example, say something like, “I've noticed that you spend a lot of time alone lately. Are you okay?".
- You can also say, “You have been quite reserved. Is there something going on?
- Try to limit yourself to making objective observations without adding assumptions or accusations.
Step 4. Avoid confrontation
Notice if the person doesn't want to talk about it or is quickly defensive. You don't want to cause a fight or an argument. If the person doesn't answer your questions, don't talk about it any more. Repeat that you are worried and that you are there for him.
- If the person becomes defensive, ask "Is there someone else you want to talk to?" or "I'll leave you alone, but please don't hesitate to call me if you want to talk."
- Understand that it might take a couple of conversations for your friend to open up about what's going on. Try not to force the topic in your first or second conversation.
Step 5. Talk about suicide
If your friend is suicidal, stay calm and stay with him. Talk to him about suicide and get help if needed. They may tell you how they feel or what they want to do. If you are worried, ask, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself or taking your life?"
- If the person is afraid to ask for help, tell them to call a suicide crisis line (like 1-800-SUICIDE, if you live in the United States) or emergency services.
- After the call, offer to help them find a mental health professional or follow any suggestions the operator has made on the line.
Part 3 of 3: Responding to Your Problems
Step 1. Show availability to listen to it
Just asking if it's okay is not enough. The important part comes next, when you show him that you are available to listen and support him. Make sure you have time to listen to him if he decides to open up. Bend over and make eye contact frequently. Nod your head and comment so they know you're paying attention to them. Reflect on what they are saying to show that you understand the context and the feelings they are expressing.
- For example, you can say, "I'm so sorry that it makes you sad and angry."
- Avoid saying you know how it feels. It's best to just be there for him and empathize as best you can with what he's experiencing.
Step 2. Avoid judging him
Even if you disagree with the person, don't tell them immediately or start an argument. Don't blame him for his experience, even if you think his problems are his fault. Note that you asked him if something was wrong. Whatever your opinion, keep it to yourself, at least for that day.
For example, if your friend admits that he has a drug problem, don't scold him for taking drugs. Listen to him and show your support for admitting his problem
Step 3. Acknowledge their experience
When you hear your friend open up, acknowledge their experience and how it makes them feel. If you are having a difficult time, acknowledge that difficulty. Show him that you are listening and sympathize with his feelings.
- Just try listening and empathizing a bit before offering any advice. You can ask "What do you plan to do about it?" Helping him formulate his own solutions can make him feel stronger.
- If you don't know what to say, consider saying "It sounds like this is hard for you" or just "It really is too bad."
Step 4. Encourage him to take action
If his situation needs action, encourage him to take the next steps. You can encourage him to see a therapist, find a rehab facility, or talk to his family and friends. Perhaps you could encourage him to take some medications or take time off from work or school.
Say, “Thank you for opening up with me. I think it is better to consider talking to a professional or getting help. "
Step 5. Stay in touch
Get in touch with your friend to see how he is doing. Let him know that you haven't forgotten about him. Send him a text message, give him a call or visit him. Let him know that you are there to support and help him when he needs it.
- Keep asking "How are you?" so as not to lose sight of it.
- Ask "What can I help you with?"