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The ❤️ of our campaign. Go through these steps when you know someone struggling and want to help.

This website is designed for MoCo teens and families. Our info is still useful for anyone else, and you can find more help here.

Ask

People with substance misuse or mental health concerns often keep their struggles to themselves for a variety of reasons, including fear and embarrasment. If you suspect someone is suffering, don’t wait for them to come to you. Directly ask them questions like:

► Are you thinking about killing yourself?

► How much are you drinking/using drugs?

Notice the difference between these questions and a vague "how are you?". When you ask direct and specific questions, you're more likely to get honest and in-depth answers.

After that first question, keep asking! Ask them how they're doing, how treatment is going, and if there's any way you can help their path to recovery.


Keep Them Safe

If your friend is thinking about suicide, ask if they have thought about how they would do it.

If your friend answers "yes", their risk level is high. Reach out to a parent or trusted adult to tell them your friend is having these thoughts!

Your friend might not like this. They may have even asked you to promise not to tell anyone how they were feeling. That's normal - sharing feelings can be scary, and your friend probably wanted to keep their feelings private. Unfortunately, keeping that promise means risking your friend's life. Your friend might be mad at you for telling an adult, but that's worth saving their life.

The same principles apply to someone misusing substances. Some drugs can be lethal, and if your friend starts to use those, you should reach out to an adult.

If they overdose or suffer alcohol poisoning, remember that the Good Samaritan Law protects everyone who helps the victim from prosecution for substance possession, providing alcohol to minors, and parole violations.

In an emergency, don't hesitate. Call 911 or Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255


Be There

If you think someone might be considering suicide or is using substances excessively, listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Tell them that their emotional pain is real and important. Practice validation, which you can learn more about in the video below.

Remember that while you should acknowledge feelings, you don't need to agree with falsehoods. For example, I can empathize with someone feeling hopeless without agreeing that there is no hope for them. Listen without judgement and with compassion and empathy.


Help Them Connect

There are so many resources out there for teenagers struggling, but when people are in the midst of their struggle, connecting with those resources can seem difficult.

You can help them connect in a variety of ways. Help your friend connect to a support system. Encourage them to put a suicide hotline number into their phone. Ask them to reach out to an adult or a mental health professional. Offer to sit down with them and write out a support system plan or find resources with them.

We set up a "Resource Hub" for those suffering and their families. Feel free to look at it here.


Follow Up

Once you know that your friend or loved one has connected to resources and is not in crisis, you may feel a sense of relief that they are safe. But don't just move on. Keep checking in with them about how they are doing and feeling in the days and weeks following the crisis.

Checking in is especially important if your friend or loved one has just entered a new treatment. This can be a vulnerable time, since some people expect to feel better right away when in treatment. If they don't start feeling better, they may believe that it will never get better and feel hopeless.

By offering ongoing support, you are showing them that you understand that recovery takes time. Keep practicing empathy and validation throughout their healing process. Let them know that they matter to you no matter what.

Remember that when someone is suffering, they may not be able to pick up the phone to ask for support. They may fear that they are a burden to those they care about and do not want to bother people with their problems. Be proactive and offer concrete plans, like “Want to go to that new movie on Friday?”.

About Us:

A group of organizations in Montgomery County, Maryland, working to raise awareness and save lives.

EveryMind Family Services, Inc. Montgomery County Government Montgomery County Public Schools
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