Looking for a bridge over troubled water? Krithvi Shyam, our young psychologist, addresses your worst anxieties.

I am studying in Plus Two and I have a friend who always feels lonely and wishes to end his life. I am his close friend and I have tried talking to him and advising him too. But he continues to feel the same. I don’t know how to rid him of this.

Concerned friend

The best thing to do to help is to give your friend the resources he needs. Speak to your school counsellor and ensure that your friend gets to meet him/her, or visit a private counsellor with him. Refer him to suicide helplines (e.g., www.snehaindia.org) where he can contact people who will be able to get him the support he needs. This may sound callous, but the truth is that it is not your responsibility to help him overcome what he is feeling right now. Trying to tackle depression or suicidal ideation on your own without any skills or resources at hand will leave you emotionally and physically exhausted, and probably damage your friendship in the process. So set your boundaries now so that your friend doesn’t get hurt later.

Explain that, as his friend, you want him to feel better, and you’d like to help him do so by meeting people who are trained in the area. If he refuses to go with you, then you’ll have to be frank and say that you are not equipped to help him work through his feelings on your own, and this is the only way you will be able to offer him support. If he shows no signs of seeking help on his own, make sure the school counsellor/his parents/teacher he trusts (or any other adult you feel might be able to do something) knows about what’s going on.

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