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My Friend Is Suicidal and I Don’t Know How to Help

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I’ve been friends with a girl online for almost 10 years. She’s always struggled with depression, and has dropped out of middle school, then high school, then university. She’s 24 now. She just got a really good job, but then she almost immediately started deteriorating. I’m Bipolar II, and I suspect she is also Bipolar. She cycles rapidly between manic states and depression. She has repeatedly told me she is constantly thinking about suicide.

Unfortunately, I live literally across the planet now (she lives in Ohio) and I’ve run out of ways to help her. I’m in contact with her roommate, who is also trying to keep an eye on her, but we’re hitting a wall. My friend is developing extreme paranoia and has a very warped perception of reality. She reads patronizing tones and disapproval in emails and conversations that are simply not there. We finally got her to contact a therapist, but she’s refusing to pay the $40 to get her ADHD results transferred, and they won’t let her see anyone that could give her actual medicine until she does. Right now she takes Adderall and Clonopin and has stated that she has enough clonopin to kill herself.

She’s extremely negative about her mental health improving, repeatedly stating she is “too broken for this world” and refusing to entertain the idea that she could improve with treatment. Instead, she thinks they’ll take away her Adderall and dismiss her. She’s got the appointment to see a therapist this week, but her roommate and I are very concerned she won’t go; if she doesn’t, we don’t know what else to do. She literally hasn’t been eating (a handful of popcorn here and there) and has lost 30lbs in two months. Her parents are divorced and her mother creates an incredibly toxic environment when they are living together and blames her for all her issues, saying she just needs to “get over it”. My friend doesn’t self-harm, but she has a history of disordered eating.

Basically, she’s constantly telling me through facebook messaging that she’s always thinking about killing herself, and I am constantly trying to keep her thinking there is still hope. It’s taken a huge toll on me emotionally as well; every day I spend hours trying to determine how serious she is about it, knowing I’m too far to do anything directly. I don’t think she could hurt herself without her roommate knowing, as they also work together. If she doesn’t see the therapist, I don’t know what else to do. (From Tokyo, Japan)

My Friend Is Suicidal and I Don’t Know How to Help

Answered by on -


I admire your concern and love for your friend. However, this is a situation that you can’t manage alone. She needs help and her threats of hurting herself should be taken seriously. When someone threatens to hurt themselves and it is a serious threat all bets are off. Letting the police know her intention so they can deal with her directly is a caring, reasonable, and responsible way to respond.

I would talk to her roommate about this as well. I understand this is a difficult response to make — but if you are trying to help this is a way to get people to her who can make decisions about what she needs. If you are going to make an error, make it on the side of taking action.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

My Friend Is Suicidal and I Don’t Know How to Help

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Friend Is Suicidal and I Don’t Know How to Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 28 Jul 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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