support thread for parents of suicidal teens/children

(42 Posts)
cory Wed 23-Jan-13 13:37:52

Thought we might need our own thread for hand-holding, all those of us whose teens threaten suicide or have attempted suicide or for those who have lost a child to suicide.

It seems to me that there is so much misunderstanding amongst unaffected people about what it's like to live with this situation: they don't get how it's never ending, how you get worn out, desensitized, how life has to go on.

Dd made her second attempt last week. Totally on an impulse, I was detained at the dentist's and she wasn't ready when her taxi driver knocked on the door, so she took an overdose to make the knocking stop.

The first time she jumped out of a window one afternoon and her little brother came home and found her. Again, totally unexpected, she suddenly felt overwhelmed and felt she couldn't cope.

After the first attempt, I was kind of able to talk myself into believing that it was a one off, she felt so bad about upsetting her brother, now she knows what it's really like she won't do it again. She said so herself.

Now I know I will have to live with this fear. If that feeling takes her again, then any thoughts of family or friends will not be able to get through that fog. I am frightened and angry and very, very tired. CAHMS tell me to show her my feelings; I have good reason to fear that showing anger may tip her into more anxiety, making life more risky.

marzipan57 Sat 30-Aug-14 10:53:18

Realise this may not be an active thread but so many comments fit our situation. 15yr old DD talking about suicide for 4 years now with a couple of what the psych calls gestures , taking two or three pills, waving a knife around. Her pain is clear and we feel so helpless. Hospitalised once, seems like she may be again. She looks OK on the surface, does well at school, which makes our friends think she is just winding us up. On meds which make no difference. Also having CBT. The moods can be triggered very quickly which makes it hard to judge if she can be left alone. We are now trying removing her regular asthma medicine bit by bit (she seems ok without it) as there are possible psychoneural effects. Also working on her diet. We are hanging in but its very very hard.

Spid Wed 13-Feb-13 20:24:05

Sorry - haven't been back for a while. Gosh, we all have a time of t don't we. I've started to relax a bit. DD seems easier at the moment and I'm not panicking every sec of the day. Have chased CAMHS re the psych referral - a week on and still nothing - another day chasing tomorrow then. Haven't been well myself and that actually seems to help DD.

Not bothered about her education any more - though she is thinking about it and doing the work school have set for her. SHe will do it as and when she is better.

Thanks for just being there.

cory Tue 12-Feb-13 12:14:58

Thanks for your post, mindfulmum (sorry I missed it before). It is very reassuring to read about your dd- she sounds absolutely amazing and so do you! You must be so proud of her!

We are not actually on suicide watch atm as CAHMS think (and I tend to agree) that dd is not a 24 hour high risk and that she needs to start working on independence now - though of course it's bloody scary. So I do go to work (part time) and try to carry on as normally as possible.

Scored a small victory today as dd was copiously sick at 11.15- disability transport due at 12- she was still in bed white as a sheet by 11.25- went off cheerfully at 12.00.

Basically when she freaks over stress trigger points, her body finds new and inventive ways of taking it out physically (vomiting, fainting, hyperventilating, back pain), every new stage lasts a few months until she has learnt to identify and control that particular one, and then she has to start all over again.

And oh yes, did I mention that her anxities are focused around misdiagnosed physical pain and not being believed in childhood?

So she has that massive baggage of a genuine physical condition that was disbelieved, and she still has to get to the point where she herself decides to ignore other physical symptoms.

She can't do it without me at the moment. But one day she will be able to. She will, won't she?

mindfulmum Sat 09-Feb-13 03:12:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TinkBelle Sat 02-Feb-13 22:39:36

Spid, I agree with Cory, keep pestering re psych assessment - a couple of weeks seems a long time to wait when your dd is considered a high risk. Yes, admission would be way forward if psychiatrist considers risk to be high. Yes, it would be a psych ward as general ward staff not trained to deal with MH issues and whilst this can be daunting when first experienced it is important to bear in mind that the staff are trained to support MH issues.

Don't know re child or adult as my dd has until now been under 16 so no experience to go by. If a choice given I suggest opt for children's as these seem to frequently cover up to 18.

Nothing like Cory has access to in my area, but worth researching what there is.

Education can happen at anytime in life so don't stress too much about that at the moment. If your dd is, then it might be a good idea to focus only on the core subjects and let the others fall by the wayside. Obviously this needs her school on board, but any school which cares about its pupils should be willing to adapt to support individual needs. My dd gets schooling from a hospital school linked with the hospital she is in. They liaise with her home school re lessons.

So sorry that you are having to cope with CFS as well, I had ME (as it was then known) for 10 years and the memories linger ... take care, hope this has answered some of your queries.

cory Sat 02-Feb-13 12:21:44

Can you find out what kind of options there are locally, Spid?

Near us there is a rehabilitation home for children and teenagers connected to the local hospital where you can make a longer or shorter stay if you need round the clock support. Dd stayed there to learn to walk and sit properly after her joints had been playing up, there were other young people who were being rehabilitated from car crashes, but also those who needed support for MH issues. They had CAHMS staff working there as well as OTs and physios, but everybody also attended their school which liaised with your normal school. They had visiting time in the evenings and you went home for weekends.

There might be something similar in your area?

Anyway, make sure you keep bothering people, keep telling them that there is a high and urgent risk and ask what can be done.

Oh and btw, if you are 16 and go into hospital, they should give you a choice between the children's ward and the adult ward.

(they forgot with dd last time and put her in the children's ward; they were quite apologetic, but we would have requested that anyway)

Spid Fri 01-Feb-13 19:58:34

Wow - thanks guys - again I am touched at your quick responses. I say 24 hour watch but I can't physically do that really. I take pills to make me sleep as I have CFS so the nights aren't really watched too much (though hubby is around then of course), though even with the pills I sleep very lightly and hear most things. I am more physically tired as I am being aware of where she is all the time, even when sleeping I'm still listening for her. And the constant worry is also exhausting as you all know. This has been an issue for over a year now and it is draining. I expect a couple of years more given her state of mind at the moment. There are very few pills in the house (I have to have a few for me) now, and they are in my room hidden away. She hasn't cut since being home 3 days ago, but says she wanted to. Not sure when the assessment is, I did contact CAHMS about it, but her key-worker wasn't there and she didn't ring me back as promised. I'm hoping in the next couple of weeks.
I fund a great book on Amazon - no idea if you've heard of it - still doesn't answer all my question but a lot better than others http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0745955703/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00 helps on the self harm side but not as much on the suicide side.

So, let me get this clear, as I really haven't a clue, if the psychiatrist believes she is very high risk then a hospital stay is recommended? That's the next step? Would that be on a psych ward? Just for teenagers or adult as she is 16? Or on a general ward? The thought of her having to be hospitalised fills me with dread.

And then after that what about education - though I need her to be alive for that to be even slightly important - but it stops her being bored and keeps her busy.

I think her boarding school (where her only friend is, so where she wants to be) will say they can't be responsible for her - and really I want her home. However, she hates change and meeting new people - there is a good school near where we are about to move too (yes we have the stress of a move in 4 weeks - hubby is RAF so we have no choice) but will a change of school be the right decision, or will she get home tutoring, or what? Or partial timetable for certain lessons? I'm flummoxed, she's very bright and could do really well under the right conditions - obviously these aren't the right conditions and I don;'t know why I even worry about it - maybe it's a distraction technique for ME so I stop worrying about her killing herself instead! Ironic Lol!

ANyway thanks guys, even if you can;'t answer my questions, it's great to have others to talk to who are going through it etc.

cory Fri 01-Feb-13 18:58:24

Agree with TinkBelle, Spid, that there is no way a 24 hour watch can be sustainable at home: you'll make yourself ill and still can't keep her safe every single minute of the day. Make sure you tell them! If she is very high risk, then she needs to go into hospital. Can't even begin to imagine how exhausted you must be. sad

TinkBelle Fri 01-Feb-13 18:11:16

Spid - 24 hour watch is not sustainable at home and it is important that you share with the psychiatrist that this is what you are having to do. If the psych assessment indicates that your dd is high risk then it is most likely that an emergency CAMHS admission will be sought for her.

During the psych assessment the psychiatrist will speak to your dd on her own and also with you present, in order to understand what is going on for her. Don't worry if your dd is reluctant to communicate as this forms part of the information that the assessment will be based on.

Do you know when the assessment is? Given that she is considered to be very high risk, it should not be too long a period of time but if you are concerned that you have heard nothing, chase CAMHS direct or get your doctor to. I hope you can get some rest over the weekend when you might have extra eyes in the house.

motherof3kids Fri 01-Feb-13 14:39:01

Spid
You as parents need help and support as much as you're child...ask your doctor if you can be put in touch with someone...
My daughter has been self harming since year 8.. She said at the time it was 'a one off'...she's now in year 11 and its still happening. Thanks to support from our gp and a hospital we were put in touch with we have all had help. My d is now on medication after trying CBT first and she is a different girl, even after 2 months... It is a devastating time for everyone...we know now that we have done everything possible and are still doing everything possible for her and us..she had written suicide notes and that was the hardest thing to take in but as long as you know you've done all you can then don't feel guilty...lots of hugs and not too many questions!
Good luck

CabbageLeaves Thu 31-Jan-13 18:58:13

Thank you to Murlo. Your viewpoint is great. My DD self harmed, stock piled paracetamol and I opened my front door wondering if I'd find a body for months. Not long compared to some but I still feel affected by that.

Today she's a student, happy and sorted. Hang in there. Parenting is so tough

Spid Thu 31-Jan-13 18:48:52

Who can tell me what happens in a psych assessment and what the outcome is if they agree with CAHMS and find her very high risk? 24 hour watch is hard; I have CFS (not helped by stress) and I desperately needed a sleep today - couldn't as I was listening for her movements all the time. Luckily she was on the computer drawing the whole hour I lay in bed not sleeping.

TinkBelle Thu 31-Jan-13 07:46:18

Tough times Spid, but it sounds like you are doing all you can. I am glad you have got some support for yourselves, but sadly as you say, there is no definitive answer and there is no-one waiting with a magical instant cure. I found that very difficult to understand at first as I thought once dd was in the CAMHS system all would be fixed, but it's not that simple. Managing high risk at home is stressful, I hope your dd's assessment comes through soon. Thinking of you all.

Spid Wed 30-Jan-13 23:19:42

Thanks guys,

Had the first session of a few today for us parents - with AWS (Army welfare Service - linked to relate) - it a positive start, but still no-one actually telling me what to say or not say - I'm beginning to realise that's because there isn't a definitive answer. Daughter was at CAHMS again today, assessed as very high risk, so back at home again (she was at boarding school - her choice) on 24hr watch whilst we wait for a psych assessment date to be set. I feel we are still at the beginning of this journey - it's been a year so far and it's still escalating - not sure how long it will last. It's made hubby have to talk which is always good for a bloke. I've had to be really clear with him about how stressed I feel etc, the guilt I feel (I was a bit like it as a teenager so my defective gene passed on etc), we shall get there - we have to cope in the end.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 17:23:31

Spid, I know exactly what you mean: it's not just about dealing with your child and their immediate situation: you're stuck with the aftermath, the trauma, the emotional scars, the fears. Is there any way you could get counselling for yourself, or maybe family therapy? I found CAHMS family therapy quite helpful because it gave me a place to talk about the practicalities- how much freedom do I give dd? how many risks do we take?

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 17:12:31

Snapespeare, your counsellor sounds grim. Dd has been having counselling for nearly three years and I still don't know what an inverted hierarchy is: otoh dd has learnt a whole lot of useful techniques for when the going gets tough. And we also get family counselling where they work with us and encourage us to formulate problems and ideas.

TinkBelle Sat 26-Jan-13 15:59:57

Cory - know next to nothing about supported living except that, yes, it is some kind of residential set up. It is for adolescents who have been through all the system has to offer & yet remain at too high a level of risk to be safe long term at home. Dd has for the first time in 3 years, begun to show a little interest in what SHE might be able to do to help herself so that is a teensy glimmer of something ...

Spid, doesn't feel right to say welcome to the thread as I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but I am glad you found it! Maybe just sharing will help a little? I think the adrenaline is on constant stand by as we wonder what might be waiting for us upstairs, at the end of the phone, behind a door etc ...

Snapespeare, sounds like your counsellor has a seriously over-rated view of their own importance, and little empathy for young people & families. I hope the next appointment brings better things for you. If your gut instinct is that your ds may be on the autistic spectrum, go with that and ask how you can have him assessed. If he is, that would help you to understand his behaviour better and ensure he gets support tailored to his needs.

Snapespeare Sat 26-Jan-13 13:38:31

Thank you murlo. I just feel we're being pigeon-holed before we've properly begun, he's applying a clinical model based on two hours of interaction with my son. I will give it another shot this week and if it doesn't improve, will request a different counsellor.

murlo Sat 26-Jan-13 13:34:43

Snapespeare, I would recommend getting a different counsellor. I've found that the ones who are harsh with my parents feel like they're just doing a job to pay bills when I speak to them, whereas the ones that tried to understand my parents situation actually felt like they were listening to me and talking to me rather than at me.

Spid Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:45

I'm so glad I've found this thread - my DD2 has been self harming (cutting) for the last year and last week attempted to take an overdose , she was stopped by her fried. I feel completely adrift. She is under CAMHS, sees a councillor weekly and has just been told by her dr to take St John's Wort. She is 16, A very bright, vibrant, creative individual but also quite tortured in her head. She gets help. But what do I do with the feelings I have? Every time the phone rings I jump, when I wake her up I'm petrified that she won't actually be alive any more, I want to pull her close and never let her go, I want to take all her pain away, and yet that isn't my role. So how do hubby and I cope? Who helps us?

Snapespeare Sat 26-Jan-13 10:45:18

Thank you for being so welcoming. We're actually having a lovely morning. The other two are asleep at the moment, we've arranged to go and see Les Mis together on Tuesday and at the moment he's agreeing to go to school on Monday for the afternoon while I wait in the car outside (my! That will be fun! hmm I've tried the 'we all have to do things we don't want to do' tactic. I'm now trying 'we're a team. I'll take the day off of work and wait outside' tactic. This is actually lovely, far better than the rage and despair.

He's a strange child. I mean that with the best love. Have always thought he is borderline aspergic. He skips in public, his voice is never regulated. He finds it hard to make friends (doesn't like football, has been brought up in a vehemently feminist household, isn't mainstream, which I love about him so very much!) it's a difficult age anyway, 14 - when you're not really a child, but you're not a man and you're trying to find out who you are.

The CAHMS counsellor. I phoned on the morning of the appointment and left a message apologising. Three days later I got a letter asking where we had been, I phoned and left a message that I had left a message (...) and to rearrange the appointment. Phoned again the day after to find counsellor had gone home due to snow. Phoned again after the weekend. Phoned again on wednesday. answerphone. Call was eventually returned yesterday while I was at work, no asking if it was Ok to speak, just launched into criticism that we hadn't attended the appointment, really patronising 'do you understand what an inverted hierarchy is' hmm (yes, I do. Thank you) suggesting counselling won't work because DS1 'calls the shots' and the counsellor 'won't be complicit' in this. Told him, hold on, you've met us twice what does he expect me to do, haul someone bigger than me out of bed, shove him in the car and physically make him attend?

Gah! Thank you for letting me get this out of my system you lot. I do appreciate a safe place to rant share this. smile

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 10:23:30

What would supported living actually mean, TinkBelle? is it some kind of residential set-up?

TinkBelle Sat 26-Jan-13 08:41:40

Murlo, thank you for posting and for your words of encouragement. I am so pleased to hear that you have come through such a tough time, and more importantly that you know you are not to blame.

Snapespeare, I agree with cory, it is worth requesting another counsellor who at least shows some empathy for your ds - & yourself. That may mean a further wait, but you need someone who can support you, not lecture you. Your parenting skills are not at fault here, that is a very archaic view of child/adolescent mental health issues and needs to be vigorously stamped upon.

Cory, glad your day went well & dd went off looking beautiful and i hope she managed to have a great evening. I recognise her "no middle ground" statement, that is what makes it so exhausting as there is no warning when it will go from calm to full blown. The doc didn't make our meeting yesterday so we have not dipped a toe in that conversation that I really don't want to have re supported living ...

cory Fri 25-Jan-13 20:53:01

<pops in and waves to everybody>

I am sorry that you are so unsupported, Snapespeare. The counsellor doesn't really sound as if he is helping at all. Dd's counsellor is totally different, very supportive and would understand if she was too unwell to make it. She talks things through with us rather than at us. Can you request a different counsellor? (I did once when I was having counselling at work and thought the first counsellor they offered was just too wet- I didn't need somebody who got tearful over my problems because I could do that perfectly well myself).

Thank you Brightspark and murlo for that glimpse of light through the tunnel smile. That's what we need to hang onto!

HoneyFi, sorry to hear that you have hit a black patch. It's so hard, isn't it when you thought you were out of the woods and then suddenly you're not.

How did your appointment go, TinkBelle? Were they able to come up with anything that seemed workable?

We've had a good day. My own hospital appointment (which I was dreading) went very quickly, I got home in good time to see dd off to school (which is the potential trigger point), she went in and sat her exam which she is confident she has failed (answered 2 questions and spelled her name wrong, apparently wink) and coped with that emotionally, so that is very good (she struggles with failure). Has now gone off to her awards ceremony looking totally glam in a new dress.

But that is the problem with dd: she is either coping brilliantly or not at all. She will play the lead in front of lots of people with a badly injured knee, but will try to kill herself over a knock on the door. She said herself to the CAHMS team "I don't do middle ground". Life is a constant set of ups and downs. It's exhausting.

Snapespeare Fri 25-Jan-13 20:15:01

I just wanted to post because my lovely DS1 (14) is going through a severe depression at the moment, brought on, i think by a mugging incident in 2010, but exacerbated by homophobic bullying at school. Be stopped going to school after October half term, has threatened suicide a number of times, but has never actually attempted, is despondent, anxious, upset, has developed a loathing of his smaller brother (13). When he first told me, through floods of tears that he didn't want to live anymore, it felt like I had started to freeze, from the pit of m stomach out wards; my beautiful, talented boy has come to the understanding that he just doesn't want to be here anymore.

The GP got an almost immediate referral to CAHMS. I'm not sure how much use it will be. The counsellor seems to have already drawn his conclusions after two hour long sessions, which has culminated in an hour long telephone conversation with him talking down at me, questioning my parenting and stressing how important he is (we missed an early morning session as i couldn't persuade DS1 out of bed, he was too low). I feel very unsupported by everyone at the moment, so really am just saying hi, place making to an extent and hoping for some support/advice as we journey through...and hope to be able to give the same on due course.

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