How can you help?
If you read the previous article and you think someone you know could have depression, the first thing to do is to assess the situation. If the person is showing strong signs of doing something dangerous, e.g “Today will be my last day on Earth”, then tell them to call a suicide hotline. If they refuse, which is highly likely, call one yourself and let the people know the situation. If the situation is serious call 911 immediately.
However, if it’s not immediately serious, consider talking to them yourself. A lot of times, people with depression are afraid of being misunderstood, and won’t open up to adult figures. Overreacting and calling the police to their house could do more harm than help. However, they are much more likely to open up to a trusted friend. The best solution is to talk to them, tell them your concerns, and ask what’s going on. Generally, they will open up and tell you.
Make sure to practice active listening, listening to them and saying “Mhmm” or “Go on”, but not interrupting. While you may have the urge to say “I know just what you mean, that happened to me -”, remember that it is about them.
If you feel the problem is not short-term and is rather a form of depression, then help must definitely be reached, before the problem worsens. The importance of trust cannot be understated. The person may ask you to keep their thoughts and feelings a secret. It is your duty to find someone you and they both trust and let them know. Additionally, many “helpline” resources are available, such as the non-judgmental, anonymous helpline Teen Link. Calling 1-866-TEENLINK from 6-10 everyday will put you in touch with another teen who is more than willing to listen and offer advice. Many helplines are also available 24/7, available to give help to you and those you know.
The most important thing is to use these resources as soon as possible – while the person’s closest friends generally see the symptoms before anyone else, the disorder may have been building for days, weeks, or even months. If the issue is not addressed posthaste, the situation could devolve into the one described above and the person will not seek treatment; further consequences could be self-harming behaviours leading to hospitalization or death.Teen Link's website