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For Young People

Helping Ourselves, Helping Each Other

We all feel stress and pain sometimes– this is a normal part of life! Sometimes we might try to hide it and pretend that nothing is wrong. But can you imagine what would happen if we hid or ignored physical pain, like a broken leg?

Pain can come from many stressors. It could be from feeling pressure in school or at home, physical or emotional abuse from adults, bullying, loss of someone close to you, or feelings of isolation or being alone. Sometimes, depression can happen just from a chemical imbalance in your brain! Because of the changes in their bodies and their lives, it’s totally normal for teenagers to experience this feeling from time to time.

But, when we hide emotional pain, it gets worse and finds a way out. It does not get better over time. Drugs and alcohol, violence, risk-taking, self-harm, and suicide are some things that might come up for people who are not receiving support for their pain. These things do not help the pain to go away. They may numb it, but it is there under the surface. They can cause problems to grow, and pain to get worse or increase; ultimately, this can lead to self-destruction or death.

Even though pain and stress might feel impossible to overcome, there is always help! No problem is insolvable. Pain will not last forever. There is a healthy and safe way out of every situation. And there are healthy ways to cope with situations that are totally out of our control, too.

The information on this website will help you find some first steps to deal with challenges. It will also help you to recognize a friend who might be struggling and need your help.

How to Help Yourself

Have you been feeling down, sad, or anxious? Did you recently experience a big life change? If so, know that it is okay to feel this way. You are not alone. One out of three people will experience depression, and EVERYONE struggles with big challenges at some point in their lives! Stress is completely normal, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming. It is okay to get help when we feel that way. Please know that feeling bad, upset, depressed, or hopeless does not mean that you are weak or sick or broken. Getting help for yourself is a sign of true strength. You are strong enough to reach out, strong enough to get help. You do not have to feel this way forever.

People can deal with overwhelming emotions, depression, and suicidal feelings in many positive ways!

  1. Talk with someone close to you or speak to an adult you trust. Sometimes an outside person can see an aspect of a situation that we cannot. Depression can be like a wall that is hard to see over or around, and an outside person can provide a different point of view. It can feel really good to finally talk about feelings that have been building up inside.
  2. Talk with a professional, such as a counselor, doctor, spiritual leader, psychiatrist, or break isolation through participating in a support group. Professionals can help us work through our challenges– there is nothing wrong with asking for help!
  3. Express yourself through getting involved in community organizations, physical exercise, art, acting, writing, music, sports, hobbies etc. Like talking, these are ways people can manage difficult feelings.
  4. Don’t isolate. Sometimes when things feel hard, we might hide away or want to be by ourselves. While it is okay to take some time for yourself, it is important to reach out and be with other people who love and care about you!
  5. Get sleep, eat right and take care of yourself. Sometimes when we are stressed, our sleep suffers, our eating habits may change, and we can struggle to make time for fun and relaxation. When you feel down, taking care of your body is especially important.
  6. Whether you are just feeling down or dealing with thoughts of suicide, you call San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s Crisis Line at 415/781-0500, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800/273-TALK. You can call 24 hours a day– we are always here for you.

When a friend is hurting

Sometimes it is hard to tell when a friend is in emotional pain. When friends are depressed or suicidal, they may also have trouble telling you that they are hurting. Here are some warning signs that your friend may need help:

  • Talking about suicide, or saying things like, “I’m such a loser,” I’m going away,” “I wish I didn’t have to do this anymore”
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Saying goodbye to close friends for no reason
  • Increased and sudden isolation
  • Giving away personal items
  • Changes in sleep patterns, like sleeping too much or not sleeping at all, and being extra moody, irritable, or even violent
  • Actively trying to hurt themselves or taking a lot of risks, like driving drunk or putting themselves in unsafe situations

Remember that any person being abused, either from an adult or from other students through bullying, can lead to major depression and isolation. If you see someone being bullied in school or know someone is being hurt, reach out to that person and get help.

For more information on the warning signs of suicide or how to help, visit sfsuicide.org or call 415/781-0500.

How to Help a Friend

Do you have a friend in trouble?  You can help!

If you notice a friend saying things or acting in ways that cause you concern, have the courage to reach out! Directly ask if they are feeling depressed or even thinking of hurting themselves. Let your friend know that you won’t freak out or judge what they have to say.

Don’t promise to keep secrets. If a friend is talking about suicide, you need to get help, and fast.  The best approach is to tell your friend that the two of you are in this together, and walk with your friend to get help.

If your friend is in serious trouble, and refuses to get help, go to an adult yourself. Suicide is serious, don’t keep this a secret.

If you friend is acting in a way that is harmful or has a plan to harm themselves NOW, call 911. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.

If you want to talk about a friend in trouble, call San Francisco Suicide Prevention at 415/781-0500, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800/273-TALK.
They’ll help you figure out what to do.

Places to Connect

How to Report Suicide on Facebook

San Francisco Suicide Prevention

Call if you feel depressed, stressed, or if you’re facing a problem and just need to talk. Or call if you need advice on how to help a friend who might be depressed or suicidal.

  • Crisis Line (available 24/7)
  • TTY

Other Organizations

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    Open 24 hours
    1-800/273-TALK suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
  • California Youth Crisis Line
    Open 24 hours
    800/843-5200 youthcrisisline.org
  • HIV Nightline
    Call 24/7 if you are considering testing, have questions, or just want to talk about HIV concerns.
  • Trevor Project
    Trevor 24-hour suicide prevention and support 866/488-7386  thetrevorproject.org
  • LYRIC San Francisco
    415/703-6150 lyric.org
  • National Runaway Switchboard
    800 RUNAWAY  www.1800runaway.org

On the Internet

If you are feeling down or need advice on how to help friends, you can also contact San Francisco Suicide Prevention on the internet.  Just go to our site for information, to send us an email, or live chat services.

San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s Youth Risk Reduction Program is funded in part by the following donors:

Five Bridges Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Lucasfilm Foundation, Louis R. Lurie Foundation, The Lee and Linda Meier Family Foundation, Mount Zion Health Fund, The Negley Flinn Charitable Foundation, The John and Lisa Pritzker Family Fund, Salesforce.com Foundation, San Francisco Rugby Foundation, George H. Sandy Foundation, State Street Foundation, The Morris Stulsaft Foundation, The TJX Foundation, The Nick Traina Foundation, Van Loben Sels /RembeRock Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation.