Helping a friend

If you need urgent help

  • British Columbia Emergency Care
    Call 911, or visit the nearest hospital emergency department if you or a loved one requires immediate medical attention for illness, injury, self-harm, or overdose.
  • 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline
    If you are thinking about suicide, or you’re worried about someone else, call or text 988 in Canada, toll-free, any time.
  • Crisis Centre BC
    If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or at risk of harm, call or chat online with a crisis responder in British Columbia.
  • Here2Talk
    Call, chat online, or use the mobile app to get free, immediate, 24/7 mental health counselling, available in various languages for post-secondary students in British Columbia. UBC students can reach out as often as needed, anytime, from anywhere in the world.
  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline
    If you are an Indigenous student in Canada, get immediate mental health counselling or crisis intervention by calling 1 855 242 3310 or chatting online any time.
  • Campus Security
    Call 604 822 2222 for help on campus any time, including first aid. You can also reach Campus Security on a Blue Phone, one of 40-coloured poles on campus with the word “Assistance” on them.

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 over time. If you notice changes in your friend that are impacting them in a negative way, 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, isolating themselves, or avoiding social activities.

Reach out to the person you're concerned about

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

When reaching out, you should:

  • Listen actively and with patience. 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. This can also help you to identify what the next steps could be.
  • Discuss self and community care. Remember that you also need to take care of yourself when supporting someone else.
  • Identify key next steps, if needed. You can look through resources together online. You can call a service with them or offer to go with them. You can also plan for when you are going to check in with each other next, and who else they can reach out to that they trust.

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.