Helping a friend

If you need urgent help

Helping a friend in crisis

Recognize signs that your friend may need support.

It's important to recognize when your friend is struggling with something serious and when to offer help.

You may notice your friend's behaviour, feelings, or thoughts change drastically or very subtly. If you notice changes in your friend that are negatively affecting them, it may be time to start a conversation with them.

Signs your friend may need some support:

  • They are not enjoying activities as much.
  • They seem distracted or have trouble focusing.
  • They usually worry about things that don’t seem to be a big deal to others.
  • They are typically tired or mention they don't sleep well.
  • They are typically sad and focus on the negatives.
  • They are spending more time alone and are isolating themselves.

Reach out to the person you're concerned about.

It can be difficult for someone to reach out for help. By connecting with them using care and respect, you can help them get to the support they need more easily.

When reaching out, you should:

  • Listen actively and don’t jump to problem-solving.
  • Respond with empathy and validate their feelings. They are not alone and you are there for them.
  • Ask open-ended questions to help your friend understand their situation.
  • Discuss self-care and remember that you need to take care of yourself as well.
  • Identify key next steps, if needed. You can call a service with them or offer to go with them. You can look through resources together.

Find more tips and techniques in the How to Help a Friend Canvas course.

If you are a student staff or student leader, your program supervisor or any professional staff or faculty member can help you if you’re concerned about another student. Reach out to a staff member if you need support with helping others.

Suicide Awareness and Intervention Training (SAIT)

Take UBC’s Suicide Awareness and Intervention Training (SAIT), free for UBC students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The two-part training covers the following topics: 

  • Introductory intervention skills
  • Effective approaches to work with someone at risk of suicide
  • Available on- and off-campus resources

Training will also help participants understand the impacts suicide has on an individual, their loved ones and communities, and society as a whole.