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How can I help a loved one with post-traumatic stress?
Be willing to listen, but don't push. Make sure your loved one knows that you want to hear about his or her feelings. But if the person isn't ready or willing to talk about it, don't push. Just reassure your loved one that you'll be there if and when he or she is ready.
Choose a time to talk. When you're both ready to talk, choose a time and place where you'll be free of distractions and interruptions. Then truly listen. Ask questions if you don't understand something. But avoid any urges to second-guess, to give advice or to say, "I know just how you feel."
Recognize when to take a break. If you sense that the conversation is becoming too intense for your loved one, suggest that you stop for now and take up the conversation again on another day. Then follow through.
Get help if talk of suicide occurs. If your loved one talks or behaves in a way that makes you believe he or she might commit suicide, respond calmly, but act immediately. Make sure the person is not left alone. Then discreetly remove pills, firearms or any other objects that could be used for self-harm, and get help from a trained professional as soon as possible. If there's immediate danger of committing suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.