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AIBU to still beat myself up over this on a daily basis?

(40 Posts)
FloweryOwl Mon 19-Aug-13 14:39:46

Sorry for this thread in advance because it is a bit of a downer.
It's coming up to the anniversary of my friends death in a few days. In the run up to her death she had gone through a really tough time to say the least, I won't go into details but it was pretty rough for her and I'd been spending a lot of time at her house and staying over at her house with my dc (1 year old at the time) and just making sure she was okay and looking after her dc 8 months.

The night before she died she rang me and asked me if I could go over, any other time I would of gone but I was starting a new job the next morning so had a lot of things to sort out and was up early the next day to get dc to the childminders. I had to iron the clothes for the next day and just get all my final things sorted for work. I told her I'd call in the next day after I'd collected dc from the childminders. She said okay, we chatted for a bit. Told her she would be okay and said goodbye.

The next morning she rang me at 9.17am, I'd started my new job at 8.45am and I'd left my phone in my bag on silent. She also rang one of our mutual friends around the same time who also couldn't answer because she was at work. By the time her child's father had arrived at her house to drop their dc off at 10.30am she was dead. She'd taken a massive overdose and was found on the bathroom floor.

I can't get over the thought that if I'd of just gone round to her house the night before or had my phone on me that morning she would of still been alive. The guilt is no better now than it was then. Why didn't I just go round when she needed me? I knew what she had been through, I should of gone round. AIBU to still beat myself up over this every day? My DH thinks I am.

cory Tue 20-Aug-13 00:00:27

When my dd made her second suicide attempt I wanted to give up work to stay with her. The hospital mental health service talked me out of it. They pointed out that even if I stayed in the same house 24/7 I would still have to sleep, I would need to go to the loo, I might need to go to the doctor's; there would be plenty of opportunities for dd to get away and do it if she really meant to. In fact, the only chance of keeping her safe was to give her the message that she was responsible for her own actions. And then to stand back.

I knew they were right, so this is what we are doing. And dd is only 16. But I cannot run her life for her and it would not be right for me to attempt to do so.

MrsEdinburgh Mon 19-Aug-13 23:52:18

I don't know the answer to that one Flowery. Maybe your friend would have said something or maybe she would have said her goobyes or maybe she might have talked about last nights tv, the weather or could you get her something whilst in town.
All I can reiterate is that it's not your fault, you didn't control your friend's thoughts or feelings.

Many people who attempt suicide say that their overriding feeling is just to escape from the pain not realising that if the suicide attempt succeeds (hate to use that word in that context) that there is no coming back.

FloweryOwl Mon 19-Aug-13 23:28:54

I Could*

FloweryOwl Mon 19-Aug-13 23:28:14

It makes me wonder what she would of said if I did answer the phone though. Would she of told me to get to her house as soon as she could because she didn't trust being in her own company? I knew she felt afraid of being alone, hence sleeping at her house so many nights.

FloweryOwl Mon 19-Aug-13 21:21:24

Sorry for the delayed reply, it's been a hectic day.

Thanks for all the supportive messages. I've been told a few times that if she hadn't of done it that morning she would of done it another time and I couldn't be there all the time but it doesn't make it feel any better. She was my closest friend since primary school. I do see a counsellor but it's over something completely unrelated, it's been mentioned before but only briefly. I'll make it my goal to talk more openly about it. it isn't helping that I haven't been able to see her DC in about a year because of custody arrangements.

Thanks to everyone who has wrote back, hearing kind things from people I don't know has helped, it's expected from friends and family but hearing the same things from other people has reassured me a bit that maybe they are right and I need to try and let go of the guilt.

earlymenopause Mon 19-Aug-13 21:12:47

It's not your fault. It sounds like she would have done it at another point sadly. Poor you. Poor her. Life is horrendous sometimes. Perhaps you could talk to someone so you can begin to move forwards.

My parents' neighbour committed suicide and they blamed themselves. He couldn't cope with unemployment and they were in a position to offer him odd jobs and could have financially supported him if they thought he was going to do something like that. They found that hard. They did however begin to see that if it hadn't been that then it would have been something else. He just couldn't cope with life. It sounds like your friend really struggled. Not answering the phone didn't do this. Life did sad

WilsonFrickett Mon 19-Aug-13 21:01:56

Please, every time you think 'that was my fault' try and redirect your thoughts into a time when you did answer the phone, or go round, or stay with your own baby.

Answer every 'guilt' thought with a 'I did my best to support her and it wasn't my fault' thought.

Because you did do your best to support her and it wasn't your fault. It was her decision, a completely uncomprehensible decision, but her decision.

And please, please, please get some counselling. You don't need to carry this burden, you can lay it by the side of the road. I wish you peace and strength to do so.

marriedinwhiteisback Mon 19-Aug-13 20:29:46

No. Not your fault. In fact your friend knew you couldn't be there; either that night or the following morning. I don't think tjere was anything you could have done.

Sorry you have to go through this. You probably kept her going for a log time but you personally could not have done any more x

CailinDana Mon 19-Aug-13 17:54:28

You poor thing. Having been suicidal myself I can tell that someone in that frame of mind isn't rational. When you think about it logically for a person's strongest instinct, their survival instinct, to be short circuited something has to be really really wrong with their thinking. When I was in that place I honestly thought dying was a solution, it was as if I forgotten that dying was forever. I just was not thinking straight at all and I only didn't go through with it because my thinking was slowly getting better due to the ADs I was on. If I hadn't stopped myself, no one else would have, no amount of calm reasoning or comfort could get through to me when I was in that state.

I think counselling would really help you. Your guilt shows what a good and kind friend you are, but it's hurting you and you need to work on letting it go.

How are you doing FloweryOwl?

pumpingprincess Mon 19-Aug-13 17:44:10

I just wrote a long post but lost it (thanks DD).
I've been in your situation OP. My friend committed suicide hours after I lost my patience with her and told her to "pull herself together and stop making a big deal of everything".

For such a long time I blamed myself and I think others did too. Normally I was very kind and patient with her and I tried to help her whenever I could. I must have said thousands of positive and supportive things to her and just one negative when I was having a bad day myself.

It has taken time but I have now kind of forgiven myself for not being perfect. It has taken years and I now work in adult mental health as a result. Studying the "Why" helped me understand and process it all.

I just wanted to echo what others have said, if someone really wants to commit suicide then they will. You may have saved her many times already and if it hadn't been that time it may have been later. She would have found a way.

Good luck OP. Be kind to yourself.
Also if you need to talk but don't feel your DH can help you, then call the Samaritans. They will listen and it may just help you process what happened flowers and brew

SellbyDate Mon 19-Aug-13 17:34:26

Oh my gosh. Dear OP. I'm so so sorry. What a terrible thing to happen. Of course it isn't your fault but it's understandable to have 'what if' questions in your mind.

Imagine a car accident. (Sorry, it's not the best example) Someone could spend their life wondering what would have happened if they'd not got in the car that day, or taken a different route.

What i clumsily men is that some things are outside of our control. Your friend made an awful and desperate choice. She did not know how to live or how to manage what anyone can only imagine were awful, desperate and confused feelings.

I would suggest to you that you perhaps seek some counselling, perhaps bereavement counselling too.

Feminine Mon 19-Aug-13 17:20:37

I'm so sorry. flowers

This exact thing happened to my DH.

His friend had been calling and calling...it was in the days before mobiles.

He is still very sad also.

everlong Mon 19-Aug-13 17:11:41

You poor love. This isn't your fault at all. She was ill. You sound like a good friend who helped her a lot but you can't be there 24/7 for people especially when you have your own family/commitments.

Please talk this through with someone. You don't deserve this stone around your neck.

I'm sorry about your friend. My son took his life so I do understand how you feel to some degree.

CuppaSarah Mon 19-Aug-13 17:11:28

I remember talking to a psychologist about my sisters suicide attempt. Though the situation is different, what she told me has never left me and I hope it will give you a bit of peace.

'If someone is truly suicidal. You won't stop them.'

That's from someone who helps depressed people for a living. If she was that low, there was nothing you, or anyone else could do. I'm so sorry for what you all went through and for what you're still going through. You are an amazing friend, truly. You did everything right.

peggyundercrackers Mon 19-Aug-13 17:05:29

it is tragic she took her own life but it absolutely is not your fault. However im sure you go over and over it in your mind thinking about it - dont torture yourself though - always remember it was your friends state of mind which caused it - not you.

i had a simliar experience with a friend - i kind of knew he was on ADs but he didnt seem that depressed with life. he was always chatty, laughing and joking, had a good job, no money probs, nice house etc. etc. one night i spoke to him and we arranged to meet later that week however i found out the next day he hung himself later that night. i always thought why didnt he say he was feeling that way, even though he lived about 30 miles away i would have went and seen him - many of his friends would have but unfortunately his state of mind made him think otherwise - it was a tragic waste of life - i think about him regularly, poor soul.

magimedi Argentina Mon 19-Aug-13 16:23:35

Flowery you sound like a wonderful friend.

It is not your fault at all - please do as many others have said & find some help for yourself.

Tee2072 Mon 19-Aug-13 16:16:26

Absolutely not your fault. Do find someone who can help you with your guilt.

Someone who wants to die will find a way to do it, no matter who does or does not answer their phone.

Nombrechanger Mon 19-Aug-13 16:12:21

How awful for you to have gone through this. I feel so bad for you.

Saying that, there is absolutely NO WAY WHATSOEVER that this is your fault. Unfortunately, your friend was ill and if it wasnt that time, it would have been another time after that. You couldn't have given up your whole life to be permanently on standby.

I know you probably would have done if you knew you would be saving her life but it just doesn't work like that.

Please seek help to let this go. It's not doing you any good torturing yourself and I'm sure that your friend would be upset with you if your life was spent depressed and wondering "what if...".

HighJinx Mon 19-Aug-13 16:03:08

It is not your fault. It just isn't like that.

When someone very close to me killed themselves and I was tortured by what if's.

It took me a long, long time to accept that even if I'd been there that time there was probably nothing I could have done to prevent it happening at some time. I hated that feeling of powerlessness. I could not accept that I couldn't help someone that I loved so very much.

It took a long time but I accept now that I couldn't have prevented her from taking her life if she wanted to any more than I could have cured her from cancer or heart disease if that had been what killed her instead.

You may find counselling helps or talking to others who have lost close friends and family to suicide.

Finally don't let your friends choices and her illness destroy your peace of mind.

fluckered Mon 19-Aug-13 15:47:52

oh god. listen I cant even attempt to imagine what you have been through as you sound like a brilliant friend. I can only say that I am sure a lot of people in your situation would think "what if" and "if only". please don't beat yourself up about it. perhaps talking to someone might help. and try remember all those times you were there for her. I don't do cyber hugs but I think you deserve one ((hugs))

DropYourSword Mon 19-Aug-13 15:44:34

Although it's natural to question yourself in this circumstance, your were an excellent friend and this was dedicatedly not your fault.

MrsHoarder Mon 19-Aug-13 15:42:52

Its not your fault. Its human to feel guilty, but at some point you had to not be available to her, because you have family responsibilities. Sometimes there is nothing that could have been done, even if you had been available.

flowers

zeno Mon 19-Aug-13 15:38:57

Almost everyone in the vicinity of a suicide (and other traumatic deaths) lives with "what if" guilt.

Essentially, our thinking brains want to somehow redo events in such a way that the person remains alive. We keep going over and over, re-imagining things that have already happened and cannot be changed. It is very human, and very normal, which makes it no less painful.

Some people find that it is easier to live with if they keep in mind that it is a perfectly understandable need to try and make it all not have happened that drives what presents itself as guilt. It's not that they are actually culpable.

I hope that makes some sense. My bereavement counsellor put it more clearly than that I think!

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 19-Aug-13 15:34:30

It is not your fault.

I can understand why you feel guilty, it's the "what if" element.

But you can't torture yourself forever over it. Nor should you. You sound as though you were a good friend to her,she was just unwell.

flowers

cardamomginger Mon 19-Aug-13 15:32:11

* could have done THEN, or subsequently...

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