Do I tell my teenage children that their older DB keeps trying to end his life? Possibly triggering

(12 Posts)
ihatethecold Fri 17-Jun-16 06:58:33

They know somethings is up because I keep disappearing for long days.
My older ds (23) lives in another town.
My self and my ex are giving him lots of support to help get through this crisis.
My dh has also been very supportive, sometimes coming to the hospital when he's made another attempt.
My 2 teens know things are very stressful. They see me on my phone constantly pacing in the garden talking to various family members and MH professionals.
My eldest has been told he could accidentally overdose now because he has had 4 attempts in the past month and his tolerance will be much lower.
What I'm asking is, how much should they now.
My middle ds is still doing GCSEs so I won't say any details until he is done next week.
My youngest dd is 13. We've talked about mental illness and how some choices can make things worse not better etc.
I sometimes wonder if I need to prepare them incase he dies.

frenchfancy Fri 17-Jun-16 09:02:03

I am so sorry you are going through this.

We lost someone in our family a few years ago to an overdose so I sympathise greatly. I agree on getting the exams over and done before you have the discussion but I do think you should include your teens.

I think it is important to stress that it is an illness, that no blame can be assigned to anyone. Have you tried contacting the mental health charities to see if they offer any advice? flowers

ihatethecold Fri 17-Jun-16 09:37:41

Thanks, who do you think i should ask?
I spend my days on the phone to the social workers and his mental health team.
Mind??

OhNoNotMyBaby Fri 17-Jun-16 09:44:34

I think you should say something because fear of the unknown is worse than anything. You've said your other DCs know something is wrong and they are old enough to know the truth. You can still be positive and say you're all supporting him as much as you can, he's getting a lot of help, it's not his fault etc etc. Also tell them it's not catching - this can be a real fear.

ihatethecold Fri 17-Jun-16 10:49:55

Good point baby, thanks.
They know a little but not that he is suicidal. They know he is needing lots of support to get through a difficult time

sadie9 Fri 17-Jun-16 11:02:22

If it were me, I would not say something like 'he quite possibly might die and we have to prepare for that' because children may not have the resources to manage the uncertainty of this. I might say something like 'he has taken overdoses of drugs and ended up in hospital a few times, and once he took so much drugs he very nearly died'. And that you are working on getting him the help he needs to try to work through his issues. It depends on how much they know of him already and how close they are too him.
There is no way to completely 'prepare' our minds for a loved one's possible sudden and unexpected death.
It's very very different if someone has a terminal disease, because you know the death is a certainty in the near future. This is not the case with your DS.
It would be absolutely awful no matter if you knew it was coming or not. Placing that very real fear that his death might be imminent in the near future in the younger sibling's head may just cause them extra worry and burden. That worry doesn't need to be there, because it might not happen and they, as children, have zero control over that situation. You as an adult have 'some' control in that you are in touch on the phone with health professionals and are talking it through with other relatives.
You are forming a fear in a child's head not an adult's fear.
When and if (hopefully) your DS gets through this, that constant worry about him in the years following would have to be held, not just by you, but by your younger children as well.
I know you are attempting to lessen any emotional pain for the younger ones however I don't see it as being any help being over prepared for the absolute worst. So yes I would state the truth, rather than projecting the absolute worst case scenario into their heads as a near-enough certainty.
I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I really really hope your DS stabilises in the near future. I have a sibling with a severe mental health issue so I can relate. Best of luck with it.

corythatwas Fri 17-Jun-16 13:13:00

Really sorry to hear you are going through this. flowers

We dealt with this at a rather closer range as dd made a couple of suicide attempts around the age of 14/15. Obviously impossible to conceal from her (3 years younger) brother, especially as he was the one who found her the first time. But in a strange way perhaps that has made it easier as we have been able to work through it as a family. At times it has affected him badly, but he has also been able to call on the support not only of dh and me, but of school and of his best friend. He did have flashbacks for a while, and eventually even spoke to dd about it (they are very close).

I would tell your dc what is going on but definitely avoid any speculation about the future. You really do not need to prepare them for something that might never happen and which doesn't have any kind of timescale. Preparation is for when something is imminent. But talk to them about what is going on now, how it is affecting their db and you, what you are doing and if there is anything they can do; let them feel that you are going through this as a family.

My ds is also sitting his GCSE's now. His fears about his sister have lessened in recent years, but his grandmother, whom he loves deeply, is dying and in a great deal of pain. He knows what is going to happen, he knows what she is going through now, he knows what he can do to help (not a lot as she does not want visits, but he has written to her). Being part of it makes it more manageable.

Otoh when grandma first developed cancer we did not prepare him for her eventual death- because there was no knowing when that was going to come and in the event it took years- but talked about how it was impacting her life then and about what was being done.

ihatethecold Fri 17-Jun-16 14:20:36

thanks for the advice, Its very useful.
I wouldn't say to them that he could die.

We have talked about mental health and how he needs extra support right now to make better choices.
We talked in general about depression, anxiety etc.
I will read all your answers again before i talk to them.

frenchfancy Fri 17-Jun-16 15:19:23

Mind might be a good place to seek advice. There are other charities as well. Try www.rethink.org/carers-family-friends/brothers-and-sisters-siblings-network/youth-siblings-area

lazymum99 Sat 18-Jun-16 20:20:49

on a purely practical note if this is affecting your son through his GCSEs he can tell the examination officer and they tell the exam boards and it is taken into account. When my son was doing his AS levels my father (his grandfather) was dying and in fact died during this time and the college dealt with it. that applies to Cory as well.

ihatethecold Sat 18-Jun-16 22:01:34

My middle ds is fine. Doing revision and hanging with his friends.
He has 1 exam left to do next week. I'm not concerned that he will do badly due to family drama.
He's quite unaware of the seriousness of recent events.
My dd came with me today and saw her elder DB.
We had a more in depth chat in the car on the way there.
No mention of overdose or suicide.
Just the support we can give him to get well again.

VertiginousOust Sat 18-Jun-16 22:09:50

When I was a teenager my older sibling had a lot of mental health issues, self harming, erratic behaviour etc.
We knew vaguely what was going on but my parents never talked about it to us and it was terrifying. We lived in a state of panic that they would go out one day and not come home, and filled in the gaps with our own imaginings. It was awful and we felt abandoned I suppose, left to get on with things ourselves but with no official 'outlet' to talk about how very scared we were.
So I would be very very very strongly in favour of talking to your children as much as possible.
I hope the situation improves for all of you soon

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