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For Young People

Helping Ourselves, Helping Each Other

When our pain is emotional we may feel confused or ashamed. We may hide our pain inside and pretend that nothing is wrong. Imagine what would happen if we hid or ignored a broken leg!

Pain comes from many stressors in life. It could be from feeling pressure in school, physical or emotional abuse which can come from both adults and from your peers in the form of bullying, loss such as a death in the family, feelings isolation or being alone, or just a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.

When we hide emotional pain, it gets worse, it finds a way out. It does not get better over time. Drugs and alcohol, violence, risk-taking, self-mutilation and suicide are some negative ways people may choose to deal with pain. These choices do not help the pain to go away, they may numb it, but it is there under the surface.  These choices can cause our problems to grow, our pain to sharpen and increase; these choices can lead to self-destruction, even death.

It may feel impossible right now, but no problem is insolvable. Pain will not last forever. Things change, feelings change and 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 your own problems. Also, it will help you recognize a friend who’s struggling and needs your help.

How to Help Yourself

Some signs of emotional pain may sound familiar. Or maybe you have been feeling down, sad or anxious for a long time. Maybe you are facing a big problem, going through a hard time or just not feeling well.

Please realize that you are not alone. One out of three people will experience a major depression. Everyone will struggle with large problems at some point in their lives.  Problems come with life, but sometimes we find them overwhelming. It is okay to get help when we feel that way. Please know that feeling bad, upset, depressed or suicidal does not meant that we are weak or sick or broken.  Please understand that getting help for yourself is a sign of strength. You are strong enough to reach out, strong enough to get help and something in you realizes that you don’t 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 that you cannot. Sometimes the depression can be like a wall that you cannot see over or around and you need someone to take you by the hand to help you get around it, see more options and help you wade through stuck feelings.  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, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or break isolation through participating in a professionally led support group.
  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 negative feelings.
  4. Don’t isolate. Sometimes when we feel down, we can crawl into a hole and isolate. It is better to reach out, and be with other people when you feel down.
  5. Get sleep, eat right and take care of yourself. Sometimes when we are stressed out our sleep suffers, we eat bad foods or worse. When you feel down, taking care of your body is especially important.
  6. If you are feeling down or even suicidal call San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s Crisis Line at 415/781-0500. You can call 24 hours a day; we are always there 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:

  • Increased and sudden isolation
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Saying things like, “I’m such a loser,” I’m going away,” “I just want to die sometimes.”
  • Giving away personal items that don’t make sense
  • Sudden changes in sleep patterns, like sleeping too much or not sleeping at all
  • Being extra moody, irritable or even violent
  • Actively trying to hurt themselves or taking a lot of risks, like driving drunk, playing around with guns, etc.
  • Saying goodbye to close friends for no reason.

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, 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 taking pills, poison, has a gun, or is planning to kill themselves NOW, call 911.

If you want to talk about a friend in trouble, call San Francisco Suicide Prevention at 415/781-0500.
They’ll help you figure out what to do.

Places to Connect

How to Report Suicide on Facebook


San Francisco Suicide Prevention

24-hour crisis line. Call if you feel depressed, stresses or if you’re facing a problem. Or call if you need advice on how to help a friend who might be depressed or suicidal.

  • Crisis Line
  • TTY

Other Organizations

  • Youthline
    Call 4pm to 8pm to talk to someone your own age. Information, referrals, job info, places to go and things to do in San Francisco.
    888/977-3399  www.youthlinesf.org
  • California Youth Crisis Line
    Open 24 hours
    800/843-5200 youthcrisisline.org
  • HIV Nightline
    Call 5pm to 5am 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.