Suicide Prevention/Boyfriend shares thoughts of suicide
My boyfriend Alex and I have been dating for over 3 years and currently live together, he is 27 and I am 23. Last night we got into an argument because I expressed my frustration that he drinks too much, doesn't work, and plays video games all day. He can afford not to work because his mother passed away six years ago and left him with a large sum of money. He's told me that he does not see the point to working without his mother in his life. Alex was raised by his mother, his father abandoned their family when Alex was young, and his father has passed away since then as well.
Alex normally has an upbeat, fun loving personality. This may just be a very well constructed mask, because last night after I told him how I felt he said he feels terrible all the time. After a lot of struggle on his part, he told me he has had suicidal thoughts. He said that if he killed himself no one would miss him except for me and his sister, and that nothing in his life matters. In the past, I've tried to encourage him to take a couple classes and have even tried setting up jobs for him with friends, but he is not interested or motivated. I believe his suicidal thoughts accumulate because of his hermit like lifestyle, he only leaves our house to go to the store or go to bars. I do not know what to do. My mother passed away last year as well, so I reminded him that he is not alone, that these things happen to everyone and that he does not need to let tragedy control his life. Even though my mother died, I managed to graduate from college and handle a demanding job. His response was that I am stronger than he is, and that he is holding me back. I love him dearly, but he has no love or respect for himself. He does not care about himself enough to take charge of his own life. I suggested that he seek help, but he is not interested. I'm scared that one day I will come home to something horrible if I do not do something, but I don't know what to do. I think he drinks and indulges himself with hours of gaming in order to escape his unfulfilled life. As far as I know, he has no history of mental illness, previous attempts to kill himself, or hurting himself or others.
I just don't know how to help him, please advise.
First let me offer my warmest condolences over the loss of your mother. She must have been very proud of you, because what a WONDERFUL, caring person you are!
Your boyfriend has fallen into a 'victim' mentality, and seems to be set in the role he has created for himself. Your role seems to have become one of 'rescuer'. A common misconception many of us have is that if we love and care for someone enough we can 'fix' what's wrong, and everything will be as it should. You can't fix him or his problems, Darian. It sounds as though you have done all that's possible to support him through the difficult time he has been going through since the loss of his parents. Your boyfriend is obviously suffering from depression, and unresolved grief over the loss of his parents.
You mentioned feeling that your boyfriends' depression may have arisen from his unsociable lifestyle, however it is likely to be the other way around.. he is unsociable *because* he is depressed. It’s common for people with a diagnosis such as depression, to become insular and lose interest in social activities. They may even become increasingly reliant on those closest to them. If you're struggling in your care role, it may help to talk to other carers in a similar situation to you. There are many organizations offering programs and support for people suffering from depression or grief, and also for the loved ones who live with them.
You may be very concerned about your boyfriend's admission of suicidal feelings, and rightly so. Talk of suicide should ALWAYS be taken seriously. However it is important not to be manipulated by such talk. Remember that you are not responsible for the choices and actions of any other person. You can but provide resources and call for help when it is needed. You can not affect another person's decisions and mistakes in life.
If a person in your life really wants to die, you need assistance beyond what I can provide in here. If he is at risk of acting on his talk of suicide, then please seek immediate professional help! You may also wish to call a local crisis line or hospital emergency department and ask for guidance. Then, keep the phone numbers of these people and places right by the phone.
Most importantly don’t forget that your own mental well-being is just as important as your boyfriends. If you start to feel exhausted, overwhelmed, depressed or anxious, speak to your doctor about the impact your caring role is having on your own health.
Here are the 10 most commonly recognized signs of depression:
1. Depressed mood indicated by persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
2. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
4. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities once enjoyed, including sex
5. Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
7. Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
8. Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
9. Thoughts of death or suicide or actual suicide attempts
10. Restlessness or irritability
From what you've told me, many of these symptoms are already present in your boyfriend. I would also add that the video gaming that he currently engages in seems to be more at the level of an addictive behaviour (as does his drinking) and is not a relaxing hobby as such. He may be self-comforting via the chemical reactions in his brain that occur when engaging in addictive behaviors (whatever the addiction). These include the release of dopamine, a 'feel-good' hormone, in a way that creates an imbalance and contributes greatly to the depression. Your boyfriend is in urgent need of help. Counseling and therapy can help him to manage his emotions in a healthy, positive way, and will provide him with the tools he needs to move forward with his life.
I hope that this has answered your questions Darian. Please remember to take care of yourself, and regularly take a 'stock take' of your relationship to ensure that your own needs are being met, that the loving care you are giving others is recieved with appreciation, and is reciprocated for you! It would be a very good idea to enter into couples counseling to help you with guidance in getting through this difficult time as a couple, particularly if you find you are arguing often. Do not allow a sense of obligation to keep you tethered in a relationship that is not working for you and is causing you unhappiness and anxiety on a daily basis. I feel it would be wise to continue offering support as you have, and sourcing the help that your boyfriend needs (find him a good doctor, make his appointments, remind him and accompany him if necessary. But do only what is reasonable. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated emotionally. Any future talk of suicide should result in a call to a hospital psyche department. If counseling appointments are not kept but you find that the drinking and gaming and joblessness are still an issue, it would be time for you to consider getting out of this relationship for your own sake. I don't mean to sound negative, and indeed there is no reason to believe that your boyfriend can't turn his life around and your relationship can flourish and thrive as it should! I simply want you to keep in the back of your mind that *if* after a certain (self-determined) period of time, you find you are not happy, that things have not changed (or have gotten worse), you will need to think of self preservation and do what is best for YOU.
I wish you the very best with this situation Darian, and I hope you will update me and keep me informed to let me know how you are getting on. If you have any additional questions or need further help with this, drop me a line anytime.