Column: We need to try to be there for friends and family who may be struggling

Guest columnist Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.Guest columnist Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.
Guest columnist Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.
​When The Beatles first became popular, many of their songs were about love, so it was groundbreaking when the song Help was released in 1965. Written by John Lennon, it contains the lines: ‘Help me if you can, I’m feeling down/ And I do appreciate you being ‘round’, writes Margaret Coupe from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.

​As one in five of us have had suicidal thoughts at some point in our lives, we can learn a lot from Lennon, whose troubled childhood led to a lot of anguish.

Reaching out for help is a sign of self-awareness and courage, not weakness. It’s OK for anyone to cry: tears release our feelings and are a way for the body to remove stress toxins.

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We need to try our best to be there for friends and family who may be struggling.

We can check in by asking someone if they’re OK, perhaps adding after a pause: ‘Are you really OK?’

Those struggling to cope may not make it evident, masking their pain with a cheery demeanour.

I would encourage you to watch the Samaritans’ YouTube video ‘Check in on those around you’, which makes my point vividly by focussing on two men at a football match. (Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50.)

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To help someone talk about their feelings, we need to listen without judgement, giving advice or trying to cheer them up. Use questions which require more than a yes/no answer. Try: ‘How are you feeling?’ Follow up with: ‘Tell me more...’

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​”You can reassure your loved one that whatever they are facing, there will always be a Samaritan there to listen 24/7, every day of the year", says Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.​”You can reassure your loved one that whatever they are facing, there will always be a Samaritan there to listen 24/7, every day of the year", says Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.
​”You can reassure your loved one that whatever they are facing, there will always be a Samaritan there to listen 24/7, every day of the year", says Margaret Coupe, from Buxton and High Peak Samaritans.

It validates a person if you occasionally repeat a word or phrase they have used.

Summing up what they have said also lets them know you have truly understood. I used to think that if you asked someone if they felt suicidal, it could plant the idea. Research shows that this is not the case: it gives someone permission to tell you how they feel.

The worst time for those in mental pain is the middle of the night. As writer F. Scott Fitzgerald put it: ‘In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning.’

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You can reassure your loved one that whatever they are facing, there will always be a Samaritan there to listen 24/7, every day of the year.

Samaritans can be contacted on free phone 116 123 or via email [email protected]

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