How to Start a Conversation
It is never easy to talk to a family member or friend about mental illness or suicide, but the following communication tips offer a way to lesson the tension during the discussion.
- Speak in a calm voice.
- Say what you mean and be prepared to listen.
- Try not to interrupt the other person.
- Avoid sarcasm, whining, threats or yelling.
- Don't make personal attacks or be demeaning.
- Don't think your answer is the only answer.
- Try not to use words such as "always" or "never."
- Deal with the "now," not the past.
- Don't try to get the last word.
- If things get too heated, take a break and come back to the discussion later.
- Make allowances for the other person.
- Parents: remember what it was like to be a teen.
- Teen: remember that parents frequently react strongly because they know the stakes are high.
- Acknowledge that you are in this together.
- Build on your communication successes to address other subjects.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800- 273 –TALK (8255)