It’s an impossibly difficult phrase to hear someone say. I know I said it to my parents at several points in my youth, and at the time it felt absolutely true.
At school there are times where we were all lonely, picked on, or under lots of pressure. In life I strongly remember saying it when struggling with issues and concepts I could not verbalise, and so I felt isolated from everyone around me.
Turning this statement into a discussion is tough. Reassurances such as “Don’t say that, people like you! What about Sam and Jesse?” can lead to a young person pushing back, especially if conditions like depression and anxiety (which can drastically alter someone’s world view) are involved. This push-back can hinder further talking.
Instead, start by responding with empathy and giving them your full attention. Try showing that you understand—or want to understand—their feelings. Phrases like “I have felt like that before” and “It sounds like you had a rough day” show that you care and give you both more avenues to continue the conversation.
After this, it can help to identify the causes; try asking something like “Why do you feel this way?” Remember, young people can be dealing with issues for the first time. If they don’t want to talk, it may be because they don’t know how to. Ask them to try describing why, and tell them you will do your best to understand their thoughts, no matter how hard it might be for them to express themselves. This display of compassion also helps encourage them to open up.
There are so many resources out there that it can sometimes be overwhelming, but for starters, this article is filled with good advice and information about what I’ve discussed here, and also discusses some ways to overcome these thoughts once a reason or reasons are identified.
The following videos might also help you get a grasp of just what depression can look like.