For anyone out there who is, at any time, a stranger, an acquaintance, or a friend who's just not-so-close, which is basically everybody, you have a responsibility. That responsibility is to not give sympathy-seekers any form of sympathy whatsoever.
I must admit that I, in part, do not like to give sympathy for various reasons, the biggest of which is that I feel most insincere doing so. Half the people out there do not deserve sympathy anyway, so why should I give it? The only time someone is deserving of sympathy is when it is not asked for. This rules out providing sympathy to anyone who is a sympathy-seeker.
Giving sympathy to those who want it will only make them desire it more, and especially so from you if you're someone they could get easy sympathy from. People who indulge in seeking sympathy do not seek to change themselves for the better, and in receiving sympathy will only strive to hunt it with an even more ravenous appetite in future. This will simply result in a world that is full of whiners who do not believe in progress and self-improvement to make things better.
Thus, the onus is on you, especially if you're not a girlfriend, boyfriend, next of kin or very close friend (to avoid any unnecessary trouble because of emotional complexities), to not give sympathy where it isn't due. By not giving these people sympathy, you force them to face their own problems and deal with them. If everyone could create the impression that there's no free emotional lunch to ride on, then there wouldn't be the expectation that wallowing in self-pity is a valid way out.
To falter on this responsibility is to endorse the idea that being stagnant is an acceptable place to be. To falter is to allow yourself to think that humans are permissibly pathetic.