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Okay hi, I'm Ashley and I am 13 and I have like 3 or 4 questions all around the same subject.

1: Hi, there is this girl named Heidi who sits with my friends and I at lunch, now I don't know Heidi very well and she never talks to me even if I try talking to her, but all my other friends are quite close with her. I was on instagram one day and saw an account, that when I clicked on, found that it was a secret account of hers for depression. It turns out that for 3 years she has been self harming and is depressed. She posted a picture about an hour ago saying on December 11 she was going to commit suicide. I really don't know what to do. I am not close with her so I feel almost awkward bringing it up with her and don't know how she will handle it. I would love to tell a teacher or someone, but don't want to have my name attached to it. What should I do about this?

2: Me and my friends have a thing set up where we can ask each other anonymous questions without the other person knowing and everyone can answer them anonymously. Now my friend wrote this thing where we would write one good thing and one bad thing about that person, so a good thing and a flaw. She said this was to help us improve these flaws. This made me very upset and I wrote a very mean thing under it about how all she ever wants us to do it improve our every imperfection and couldn't live with us how we are. About 3 hours after I felt very guilty and was going to delete it, but she had already read if. After this he became very cold and very upset. She later went on to talk about us to a therapist. I don't know what to do now, because of the things she said to me it almost seems like me and my friends are the source for all of her unhappiness. I'm very confused about this relationship and don't know if I should take a break from her to let things cool off or tell her how I feel or do something else, help?

3: I learned over the summer that my close friend had been self harming for months. This really startled me, because I thought nothing was wrong with her. She says she is stopping, but refuses to get proffecional help, and for now I seem to almost be a therapist for her. Should I continue this way (she has been clean for 2 and a half weeks now) or should I tell someone and have her get proffecional help (she told her parents once and all they did was ground her), but through telling someone have the risk or her being very angry at me?

4: I think I have a type of depression called SAD, it's where durring winter the lack of sun light makes you depressed. My mother has this and it runs in the family, an I have found that durring winter I am extremely sad, I feel broken, I have lots of self loathing, I don't sleep at night, an I get very stressed. I have handled this quite badly and that has resulted in me cutting myself. Now I don't know if I should tell my parents (if I do, HOW do I tell them), or just try stopping myself? I would love to go to counselling but if I did they would have to tell my parents and I REALLY don't want my parents knowing. Help?

Thanks for all of this, I know it's a lot. Any advice you give will be very helpful. Thank you.

Answer
beautiful
beautiful  
Dear Ashley,
First of all.. Give yourself a big pat on the back for being such a lovely, caring person! Your letter shows me a sensitive and compassionate young woman, who is intelligent and articulate in the way you are able to express yourself through the written word! I predict you are going to do wonderful things with your life, and will be one of those special people who make a difference in the world for others! I have much to say to you Ashley. I will need some more time to think over your questions 2 and 4 in order to give you the best answers I can, as well as some very good resources that I'll chase up for you. Feel free to email me at future-breeze@live.com.au if you would like me to write directly to you, which can be quicker.

For now, however, I would like to respond briefly to questions 1 and 3 because I believe you are right to be concerned for these girls, and we could perhaps consider the best way to go about that.

Regarding Q1. You don't need to be close to this girl to help her, or to let her know that you care. However since you don't know her well, you also probably won't know much about her situation, ie, why she is feeling so unhappy that she would consider ending her life? Perhaps you could consider telling a teacher you trust, - preferably one who also knows this girl. Otherwise you could go to a guidance counselor. Don't worry about her finding out that you saught help for her.. there are privacy laws preventing your name being mentioned in such situations. The focus would be on saving this girl's life and ensuring that she has help. Usually when somebody is planning suicide they are deeply depressed and therefore unable to make appropriate decisions for themselves or act in their own best interest.  This means that the action you take will probably save their life - even if they never find out who it was. Another option might be to write a letter to the girl's parents - anonymously.  You could also email anonymously from a new account. Alternatively I would be happy to help you to tell somebody and ensure she gets some help before it's too late, without anybody knowing. I'm sure that we can come up with something between the two of us, what do you think..?  

Ashley I will write again tomorrow and we can work something out that will help this girl and will also protect your confidentiality. Meanwhile try not to worry honey, you did the right thing in mentioning these problems, and we can work out solutions from here. :-)


xRachel

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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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