Conversation Starters

Spartans for Safety - Mental Health

Still not sure how to approach your friend?

Here are some questions you could ask them that might help get you started. These examples can get you thinking about things to say and how to word the 'tough stuff'. Mostly, you should remember that you can't go wrong being yourself and a concerned, caring friend.

  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. I'm worried about you, is something going on?
  • What can I do to help?
  • How can I help you?
  • How long have you been feeling this way?
  • Have you spoken with anyone else about all of this?
  • Can I help you find someone to see about your concerns?
  • Are you getting the care you need?
  • It makes me afraid to hear you talking about dying; there is hope for feeling better, can we talk to someone about this?
  • Do you want me to walk with you to the counselling center?
  • What do you feel like? What are you experiencing?
  • Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?
  • Have you ever had thoughts about hurting yourself?
  • Do you think you might be in immediate danger?

A few more suggestions...

Try this...

Avoid this...

Act sooner rather than later

Waiting to see if your friend feels better

Being direct and honest;
talking openly

Acting shocked

Being positive;
encouraging your friend

Being critical, skeptical or dismissive

Listen carefully

Agreeing to keep secrets

Show empathy, be supportive

Being patronizing or overpowering

Taking care of yourself


Seeking help from a professional;
telling a trusted adult

Taking over your friend's life

Be available

Responding negatively

Be patient

Avoiding the concern or issue

Express concerns in specific terms

Judging your friend

Feel confident that your
friend can get better

Giving up or getting discouraged

Be aware and non-judgmental

Getting defensive or angry

Asking what you can do to help

Telling your friend to 'snap out of it'

Trust your instincts

Ignoring your friend's concerns

Asking questions, be responsive

Suggesting you have all the answers

Educate yourself:
Learn the warning signs

Being afraid of being wrong

Pay attention

Joking about the situation

Take talk of suicide very seriously

Asking "why"

Be natural, be yourself

Overextending yourself

Inviting your friend out for walks,
activities and fun

Trying to diagnose your friend

Remind your friend there is hope

Managing the situation alone