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There are few worse things when a close friend confesses that they are suicidal.

Forgive me for the bluntness of my opening sentence, but I am stressed. Worried. Exhausted. I've been in tears on and off.

When my friend told me that he had been having suicidal thoughts, I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach.

In the past, he'd hinted at bouts of depression.

I hadn't known that they had become this bad. He's become crippled from them. I know exactly how he feels, since I myself know what its like to emotionally circle the drain.

He's recently had an attempt that, mercifully, wasn't successful.

He's moving back to his home in California in three days, to be near his sister.

I'm trying to find the emotional strength to reach out to him, so I can encourage him to seek help. He was in the Navy, so since he was in the military, he can seek the resources he needs at the VA. Thank God for my mother for giving me the idea to point him to that resource. I strongly suspect he has serious clinical depression, and would benefit from being on an anti-depressant, and maybe some counseling.

I feel like it's at least one lifeline I can offer him. I pray that he takes it, because if he were to attempt suicide and were to succeed, I don't think I could live with that weight on my conscience. I know that suicide is a person's choice, but I hope he doesn't make that choice. He's like family to me, and it would hurt beyond words if he did that. I don't want him to become a memory.

Tomorrow. I will tell him tomorrow.

I just.....hope he makes the choice to seek help, and to choose to live. He's struggling to hang on.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Can you pass on the message to his sister as well? (12+ / 0-)

    If you're finding it difficult to speak to him under these circumstances, could you talk to her?  The main thing is to get the message through to him, and the more messengers there are, the better chance there is to reach him.

    But if you do reach out to him and he goes through with it anyway, please don't let it be a weight on your conscience.  You are doing what you can; and at a certain point, it's out of your hands.

    I wish you success - it's a terrible position to find yourself in.

  •  Don't wait until tomorrow. (12+ / 0-)

    Call the police. They have an obligation to help him. They can have him admitted to a hospital with a psych ward or a mental health hospital. He will have access to a psychiatrist who can start him on medication. People who are suicidal shouldn't be left alone. Don't hope for tomorrow. Act now.

  •  Liberal Heretic, (12+ / 0-)

    if your friend tells you he is suicidal you can call 911; you can call the police and ask for a welfare check, but his crisis is not your responsibility to fix. That you are there for him is a blessing. His disclosure is most likely his way of saying he needs and wants help. Hopelessness, suicidal ideation are severe symptoms of depression and he does need the help of professionals.

    It sounds like you need some self care too. My thoughts are with you.

    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain." ~ Vivanne Grenne

    by remembrance on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:19:28 PM PST

  •  From 1988-9 until the mid 1990s (14+ / 0-)

    I suffered from undiagnosed clinical depression.

    My years in hell were just that, years in hell.

    There were no words or deeds from outside of me that would comfort me. I found myself in the strange position that things that would normally make me feel better actually increased my depression. It was like an existential quicksand trap. Fighting the darkness sometimes made me feel like I was sinking faster. I had girlfriends who loved me, who made love to me, friends and family who didn't know or understand who tried to help and who stood by me. I was lucky to have survived. I still consider myself to be one of the lucky ones looking at how cruel and capricious our world can be, and our nation can be when it comes to mental health issues and public health policy.

    When I was sick, my head was a mess, and I did not come to rational and reasonable conclusions even when they were spelled out for me like you would for a small child. Worse, my family was poor and I didn't have health insurance, so I was really out in the weeds. I'm glad your friend has the VA.

    Your instincts are good. Trust them. Your friend is ill, and needs help. As a vet, there is care to be gotten if he is without health insurance or financially struggling.

    But understand that your friend might shut you down cold.  Depression lets you think you are worthless and that things are out of control, but that you know best and that you are absolutely in control, all at the same time. It's likely that you can't just stop at reaching out to your friend because he's not in a reasonable place to come to common sense agreements on whats a good outcome for him.

    I learned when I recovered, and it took years for me to fully recover, that the chemistry of my brain was all out of whack. Depression is such an insidious disease. It even convinces its sufferers that its about mental toughness or weakness and not about being sick and needing help.

    That said.  

    Even with my first-hand personal experience with depression, if I were in your place right now, I would be thinking the same things. Trying to figure out what the right thing to do is, not wanting to make things worse, not wanting to lose my loved one.  

    I would encourage you to reach out, and don't stop until you feel you have done all you can. As much for your own sake as for your loved ones. Try. Go with your gut. Talk to your friend, and talk to his family. Go with your instincts. In my experience, some of the biggest regrets that I have came from not listening to my gut. Just steel yourself. Know that you are doing the best you can when you do. By reaching out, being supportive, and encouraging your loved one to seek help you could be the person who gets that person to seek help.

    It's worth a shot. It's worth trying again and again.  

    And know that if you receive harshness or are rebuffed, that could be the darkness that is thrashing this person's life speaking. I said a lot of things I wish I could take back when I was depressed. Nothing suprised me more than the ones who didn't quit on me, because one of the cruelest tricks of my depression was drowing in feeling worthless.

    This is the hard part. I wish I didn't have to say this.

    There is only so much you can do.

    I worry that you are taking on too much of the burden for seeking a better outcome, and that could make for a steep cliff for you to drop off of if things don't work out the way you want them to.

    Reading this diary, I think you might need to talk to somebody about this whose expertise is greater than what you can get reaching out in a blog post or in conversation with your friends and family about how you feel.

    Do everything you can to help your friend, but remember to take care of yourself too, and seek some help for yourself while you do it. It will also make you a stronger advocate for your friend to be in the best place you can be.

    I wish you the best, and I hope your friend gets the help they need.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 09:52:49 PM PST

  •  As others have said, definitely reach out - to him (7+ / 0-)

    and to his sister.  But do not think you can 'fix' this - there is only so much one can do.

    I have suffered depression on and off for decades, and have been suicidal on many occasions (though all attempts were decades ago, the way I felt this past year really startled me).  I also have a cousin who killed herself.  With a gun.  that she bought at Sears.  After many, many years in and out of psychiatric hospitals and with previous attempts.  Sorry for digressing, I just had to get that out.

    Some have suggested calling 911.  That is a strong intervention, and a difficult one.  This is definitely a decision that you have to go with your gut on - based on what you think your friend's current state is.  That is a difficult call - kinda damned if you do and damned if you don't.  But if you have any concerns that your friend is in immediate danger, you need to make that call.  and if you don't feel that way and something were to happen, you have to understand that those of us suffering depression are pretty good at hiding most of it.  

    Did your friend tell you this in person?  Has he made his travel plans?  Was he upbeat about his upcoming move?  Examine what was said and how it was said and you should be able to come to a decision that you are comfortable with.

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 10:53:00 PM PST

    •  The cops love being called to potential (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, dov12348, MKSinSA

      suicides. It lets them practice setting up command posts, surrounding properties, sending in negotiators and roiling the whole neighborhood. And all the commotion usually makes the papers without them having to shoot anyone. It's a much safer incident than high speed chases and gets public notice, which is good at budget time. See, our emergency services personnel are in a tough spot. If they do their jobs really well and prevent surprises, then nothing untoward happens and the community is prone to deciding that they're not really needed and fires their asses to save taxes. So, it's important that our public servants be visible from time to time. Call 911. That's what we pay them for, to take your calls.

      In our town, the fire department gets called when some very obese persons can't get up off the john. That's perhaps not the best use of their skills, but it does keep the personnel familiar with structures and populations that might need help during a fire.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 12:53:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He's Made A Previous Attempt.... (4+ / 0-)

    His intent was serious, planned.  Waiting three days until he goes to his sister, may very well be too long to wait.  Call the police tonight.  

    Your friend is lucky he has someone like you in his life.  

  •  While I think a person has a right to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    terminate his or her own life, it's not a nice thing to do to one's friends and relations, or even the community at large. It's selfish and self-centered and shows a lack of caring. The people left behind will never forget and though the immediate response may well be plaudits for a life well-lived, or whatever, they won't feel good in the long run. Because to take that way out is to abandon one's social obligations and leave a mess for someone else to clean up.
    A person to whom the threat to commit suicide is made has a right to feel injured and imposed upon and to take action, like calling law enforcement, in return. Suicide is sort of insulting. It says I don't like the world you are running here and am checking out. See, selfish.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 12:43:58 AM PST

  •  I also have struggled (4+ / 0-)

    with depression, and had a friend actually commit suicide.  I often wished I could have spoken to her before she did.  I wanted to tell her, "Hang on, this is just how you feel right now.  Get through this, and you will feel differently eventually."  Well, months later, I went through a situation similar to the one that led her to take her life.  I reminded myself of what I would have told her, and got through it.  I don't know if this helps, but I think anything is worth a shot at this point.

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:00:10 AM PST

  •  A friend of mine, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who is likewise depressive, gave me this advice: Consider suicide as option F, then make detailed plans for options A-E. One of those options will be much more attractive in the end.
    I have followed this advice several times, and it has always worked. However, if your friend is so panicked that he can't think straight, he might have anxiety as well, in which case someone qualified to judge really needs to talk to him. If he's moving in a few days, the embarrassment of having the police show up won't be a big factor in his future life, so you won't be hurting him by giving them a call.

    "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

    by northsylvania on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 05:09:52 AM PST

  •  Read the comments from folks who've been there. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dov12348, Oh Mary Oh

    And I don't mean the friends or family of potential suicides, I mean those who have tried and dearly regret having failed.

    If it's depression, perhaps meds can help.  Going through the entire pharmacopeia takes years.  For many, especially for those who have been major depressives all their lives, this will just entail hope for a few days or weeks, followed by dejection when the drugs fail.  Dejection?  Devastation, hopelessness.

    Counseling? How many of you have found an articulate, intellectually open, wise person who can add positively to what you've learned in your own years of living?  Someone you both respect and trust.  In 60+ years, I've known 2 such.  Both are now retired and miles distant.  Ah, well.

    One young psychiatrist persuaded me decades ago with this:  "No one can possibly know what's on the other side of suicide (he didn't mean the heaven vs. hell thing):  if you do it to relieve pain and find worse pain afterwards, you will have done a scientifically indefensible thing."  So I stepped away from the brink.

    The last attempt at persuasion came from another young psychiatrist, but she had no answer when I said:  "No one can possibly know the pain another is enduring.  No one can possibly know at what point that pain becomes too painful to manage."  

    Selfish?  Selfish???  Do you know how cruel that charge is?  Why on earth would we expect another person to stay alive for our sakes, not his/her own?  'Oh, don't kill yourself, because that'll just be more mess someone else will have to clean up.'  We die anyway, every last one of us; far too many after costly attempts to delay the inevitable.  

    Some suicides pause at that thought, though, because they stress over causing any pain or trouble to someone they might know.  So often they isolate themselves for that very reason:  to spare others any fraction of the pain they are in, to spare others any of the "mess" caused by their death.  They may have delayed the act for that single reason.  

    Oh, yes, by all mean, do call the police!  I've sat handcuffed in a public hospital waiting room with a sheriff twice my size.  That's always comforting and dignified.  No, think hard:  religions and police and the mental health system hold fast to their convictions that suicide is irrational.  I've said this before:  there is no way to know, to know what is in someone else's head, and it is just wrong to substitute your judgment for someone else's.  

    Yet you wish your friend to reconsider.  If the sister is loving, she may wish to be told.  If you have strength, just offer yourself as someone who will listen without judging, without conditions.  But please, please do not humiliate your friend with handcuffs and being locked-down in some county psych ward.  Someone clearly thinks that works.  It doesn't.

    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:12:01 AM PST

    •  The ones who argue selfishness are so ignorant... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...about the problem that I tend to ignore them as soon as they start up with that bullshit.

      Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

      by dov12348 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 02:53:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. But there are so many of them. (0+ / 0-)

        And it's startling to read from so many of them here on DK.

        (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 12.6 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

        by argomd on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 07:57:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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