Suicide Prevention/Helping my friend.

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Hello! Please help ! One of my friends recently told me she's been self harming and feeling suicidal! I knew something was going on but just put it down to problems going on in her family or school stress. She used to play a lot of sports but she just quit them all. Her grades are getting really low, she never has homework done and started skipping classes. She never skipped classes before and always had good grades.  She showed me the cuts on her thighs and belly. She's convinced herself that the cuts are ok because there not deep and are only scratches (her words). She told me she stocked up on paracetamol, that she has about 27 tablets now . I'm really worried but don't know what to do ! She made me swear not to tell her parents. I'm the only one who she's trusted with all of this. I feel like I'm giving away her secret just by writing this but I don't think I have much options. I'm afraid she's going to do something stupid. We're both 18 year old girls and still in school .

Answer
hope
hope  
PS  Holly please will you let me know what has happened. Your friend does need help, and soon. Having re-read your letter a few times, I strongly feel that she is in imminent danger. This is not the time to be concerned about betraying her trust. For her to be preparing to take her life her thinking is obviously distorted and she is a danger to herself. You need to tell somebody, and soon. If you are still unsure, call lifeline, which is an anonymous service whereby you can talk through your concerns about what is the right thing to do.

If you leave it, it will be too late. You may spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn't act sooner when you had the chance too. You would have to face her parents at her funeral, with the knowledge that you knew what was going to happen, but did nothing. I don't mean to make you feel pressured, but because you are the ONLY person she has told, the onus is on you. I think it would be better to possibly lose her trust, than to lose her altogether.

Another point worth thinking about it. She has told you for a reason. I believe that she is having doubts, and by telling you she is shifting the weight of responsibility to your shoulders, and subconciously she WANTS very much to live. Otherwise she would not have told you anything at all. You would only find out after the fact.

You could either a/ speak to her parents, b/ phone a service such as lifeline, that is anonymous but trained in what to do in such circumstances, or c/ignore it and hope for the best. I think this option carries the worst potential outcome.

If you would like to discuss this further please get in touch with my by email. I am happy to phone you if you could email me a number, alternately I could email you mine for you to call collect. I am also happy to speak to your friend, if she would be open to that.

Please let me know where this is at. I have been worried about you in this situation by yourself.

Good luck with making the right decision sweetheart.

xRachel


Dear Holly,

I am very glad that you've taken the first step to getting help for your friend. At the moment your friend is not capable of thinking clearly and making wise decisions for herself, as depression has become overwhelming for her, and will be affecting her thought processes and impairing her judgement. From the things that you have said, it sounds very much like a suicide plan. Far better that you feel a little guilty for telling her secret, than that you live with a lifetime of regrets because your friend went through with her plan to end her life!

Are you able to see your school's guidance counselor or a teacher you trust and tell them what you know. By telling a professional you are passing on the responsibility to somebody better equipped to act on this information (would have had training about such things) and you can ask that your name is not mentioned as not to diminish the trust your friend has in you. One day she will most likely understand and feel gratitude at your actions, and I suspect her parents would be enormously grateful that you cared enough and were astute enough to act on what you knew.

It is difficult for most people to know what they would do in a similar situation. I would probably have felt ambivalent and uncertain about what to do if my friend had told me how he was feeling, before it was too late. I wish now, that he had. And if he had sworn me to secrecy, I know that it is not a secret I could have kept, with the price being so high!  Remind yourself that your friend is very sick. Depression is an illness, and disables normal thought patterns. When looking at it from that perspective, what choice really do you have?          
There are other aspects of your letter that I will give some thought to and get back to you on in a day or two, If you would like to drop me an email to future-breeze@live.com.au I'll reply to your email address directly, if you're okay with this.

Speak to you soon,

(((Hugs)))

:-) Rachel  

Suicide Prevention

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Rachel Hurst

Expertise

All questions sent to me will receive a warm and caring response. I'll do my utmost to address a persons particular problem, but in most cases will also attempt to supply that individual with additional resources which might be of further benefit. There are many helpful online support groups where readers can benefit from the ongoing support of others who have suffered similar problems. These groups offer invaluable peer support from others who have 'been there'. As well as responding to your initial letter, I'll attempt to provide ongoing encouragement when this is needed. Advice will be focused on addressing the writers individual needs, and providing related information and resources. I would try to ensure that any person seeking advice has accurate and up-to-date information on the signs and symptoms of depression, and importantly, is made aware that help is available through many different avenues. Where I feel that it's relative and helpful I would mention my own life experiences with depression and coping with a loved one's suicide (however, only in context.) I would be on the lookout for warning signs that the person is in crisis and may require immediate intervention. As such I would arm myself with as much information as possible in order to refer them to the help they need. In cases where I believed the persons life to be in imminent danger I would contact authorities in their area, or if unknown, I would call the emergency services in my area in order for the person to be located through tracking.

Experience

I am by no means a trained professional. My knowledge comes mainly through life experience, having endured the devastating loss of my best friend through suicide, as well as my own subsequent battle with depression following his death. I found that my own experience of losing a loved one to suicide put me in a strong position to help others, due to my ability to empathize (as opposed to sympathizing). I became knowledgeable on the topic of grief, and the extensive repertoire of depressive illnesses, signs, symptoms, and treatment options available to people in crisis.

Organizations
S.O.L.O.S. Survivors of Loved Ones Suicide - Active member since 2003.

Publications
'Marie Claire' Australian, 'Cleo' (Australian), Online discussion forums (in which my submissions have stimulated discussion and generated much feedback).

Education/Credentials
I am a professional writer. I was trained in journalism. Please see my profile in Linked In. http://au.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-hurst/41/178/165 I have studied related subjects during training as a registered nurse. Both of my parents are mental health professionals. However most of reading widely and life experience has been my greatest teacher.

Past/Present Clients
I have helped a number of individuals who have sought my take on a particular problem, or whom I have felt concern for, for various reasons.

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