Resources abound for helping mental health

Published 3:46 pm Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dear Leah,

I have a friend who has been talking about suicide lately. She says she feels like she doesn’t add anything to the world and that no one would miss her. I’ve told her that I would miss her but it doesn’t seem to help. I’m scared she will hurt herself, but I don’t know what to do. — Worried


Dear Worried,

I’m so glad your friend feels safe confiding in you. Not everyone has a close friend s/he can open up to about such difficult issues.

Is your friend receiving professional help? Or has she called a suicide hotline?

If she seems unwilling to reach out to others, it would be helpful to do your research and find tools she can access when she’s ready or local organizations that can help. You can also find out how you can better support her as her friend.

There are a few support lines, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or a local WarmLine for non-crisis peer support: 507-287-7161 or Toll-Free: 888-334-7754. Hours of operation for the local line are 4 to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.

It would be good to reach out to her family — this isn’t anything she can deal with on her own or that you can handle on your own.

There are likely many underlying issues that she will need to deal with, such as depression, anxiety or possibly a more serious mental illness.

Has your friend recently had a traumatic experience or something that caused her to question her existence? There is a type of depression specifically linked to the need to understand one’s meaning — it is called existential depression and it can lead to questioning life and death on a deeper level such as asking if anyone truly cares or if there is a purpose for her existence. Many people struggle for a long time without realizing what the root cause of their struggle actually is.

There are helpful books that examine one’s purpose — Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” is a very deep, thoughtful analysis of death and finding meaning after traumatic experience, in particular. His book was written after surviving the Holocaust and is nonfiction, which may not be the easiest read for everyone.

A fictional book which also delves in to the depth of the human experience is Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha.” Hesse was an existentialist, and people have found his work to be helpful to understand their path in life.

There are many options for your friend. You can help her understand the options she has and that she does not need to take her life to overcome her struggles or pain.


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at