Listening to a Friend Who Needs You

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Friends are often the first people that we turn to when we’re feeling sad or have something on our minds. You can also help a friend who’s having a tough time by offering support and an open ear.

Listen. By giving your friend the chance to talk about how he or she is feeling, you may be helping him or her manage important feelings.

Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow people to talk more openly with you. They often start with “how” or “what,” and prompt people to respond without using just “yes” or “no” answers.

Be aware of your body language.
Open body language can make a person feel more comfortable about speaking to you.

Be open-minded and don’t judge. Even though it might be tough, try to be as supportive as possible.

Validate your friend’s feelings. Reassure your friend that it’s O.K. to feel how they’re feeling.

Find help. Your friend might find it helpful to talk with someone like a counselor, psychologist or doctor. If they feel comfortable, you could even offer to go to with your friend to his or her first appointment.

Take action if your friend is in crisis. If you think your friend is in crisis, for example, threatening to end their life or hurt themselves - you need to take action and get help immediately. Call 911 and stay with your friend until help arrives. If you are worried but unsure that they are in immediate danger, you may want to call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000 to get answers to your questions and concerns.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times. 

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