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To not understand why "friends" are abandoning a friend in need?

(161 Posts)
runnermum1974 Sun 09-Mar-14 22:04:40

My friend attempted suicide and did real serious damage to themselves.

Days after the attempt 3 of their close friends have said they are going their separate ways. They have given some reasons, but they are pretty lame - like they are not compatible, and deciding that now, after 5 years of friendship!!

I am not saying that they have to be friends or anything. But the timing is bloody awful.

I do not understand how friends can abandon a friend in need. Anyone can be a friend in the good times. The test of friendship comes in the hard times.

If anyone has a story about abandoning friendships when a friend is in a difficult place, then I will appreciate the insight.

AIBU to think it is unkind to leave a friend in need?

Mintyy Sun 09-Mar-14 22:06:56

Impossible to say without the back story.

waltermittymissus Sun 09-Mar-14 22:09:55

AIBU to think it is unkind to leave a friend in need?

It really does depend on the circumstances.

If these friends have decided they can't deal with the 'drama' or 'neediness' of a suicidal person then that's awful and they certainly are not true friends.

However, I'd be very shocked if this were the case. Especially in light of the fact that three of them did it all at once and after the attempt.

In saying that, people get very, very strange around suicide. My brother attempted it some years back and I was shocked by a lot of reactions to it.

runnermum1974 Sun 09-Mar-14 22:14:45

What did you want to know about the back story?

Our friend has been having problems with their mental health for 2 years. They started to feel they were a burden on everyone and felt suicial, amd then actually attempted a suicide. They have a very serious injury as a result of their attempt.

The friends who walked away feel that the friend is never going to get better and gone their separate ways. They feel the friend is now 'different' to them.

I feel it is harsh. Clearly, losing friends at this point is going to make the suicidal friend feel even worse.

runnermum1974 Sun 09-Mar-14 22:16:44

Also, it seems that these 3 friends have discussed it amongst themselves and done it together.

Spot on - they can not cope with the drama and neediness of the suicidal friend. One actually said 'I don't want that drama in my life'. So basically, they left to have an easy life.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Mar-14 22:22:17

It's odd for three to do it at the same time for such a seemingly cold reason.

I was going to say could it be for personal reasons if they've tried to do it themselves the might not be able to handle being so close to someone in the same position, but that'd be unlikely with all three.

It's no comfort, but your friend is probably best off without more crap in their lives so maybe good they've gone in a way.

What were they like with your friend before they fucked off?

BobPatSamandIgglePiggle Sun 09-Mar-14 22:22:54

it depends really - is ill friend seriously impacting on their lives? I had a friend who suffered mental health / alcohol problems. She used to turn up at my door at all hours in a state. I tried to get her help but she wouldn't / couldn't engage.

I HAD to cut ties when I had ds as i couldn't cope with her anymore. Yes, I felt guilty - of course I did.

runnermum1974 Sun 09-Mar-14 22:26:45

The suicidal friend has been acting rather dramatic lately and has been very needy - lots of phone calls etc.

I could not believe that 3 did it at once. I guess there is safety in numbers.

Cleartheclutter Sun 09-Mar-14 22:30:58

Just focus on what you can do to help, forget them

waltermittymissus Sun 09-Mar-14 22:31:18

Oh dear sad well it sounds like they have decided amongst themselves to walk away en masse.

It's shit but there's nothing you can do.

Be there for your friend and remind her/him that those friends obviously weren't real ones!

Hissy Sun 09-Mar-14 22:35:42

Moments like these, you learn who your friends really are.

hoping that in the long run, she'll know that she's way better off without them.

SummerRain Sun 09-Mar-14 22:36:36

Some people have very strong reactions to suicide, many feel it is a horrific thing to do to those you leave behind. I've heard opinions like that expressed in rl on more than one occasion, absolute rage directed at the suicidal party, whether successful or not.

Coupled with your friends dramatic behaviour and neediness lately maybe these people feel they simply can not be around that person any longer. They could have gone about it more subtley though.

Suicide is such a highly emotive topic for people, it tends to divide opinions quite strikingly.

CoffeeTea103 Sun 09-Mar-14 22:38:06

It really depends on the extent of the neediness and drama that this friend has caused. How many times has she done this, how has it affected the others? Also you don't know what's going on in the other 3 friends lives so this really might be too much. Can't really say.

AgentZigzag Sun 09-Mar-14 22:38:21

I'm not sure telling the friend that those weren't real ones would be a good idea. Not only would it make them question their judgement of other people (they thought they were friends, turns out they weren't, who else can they trust), but it also might be taken by them that it's their fault they've gone off and make them even more isolated/desperate.

justmyview Sun 09-Mar-14 22:38:37

How sad. In fairness, I think it would be easy for us to criticise the 3 friends who have walked away, but the phrase "walk in their shoes" comes to mind. None of us here (apart from OP) know what demands the friend has made on them. Still, it does seem very sad if they're abandoning her completely. As part of her illness, has she made allegations against them / criticised them?

Hissy Sun 09-Mar-14 22:38:58

I hope your friend finds that this is the 'bottom' and that she now has only 'UP' to go.

That's what happened in my case.

justmyview Sun 09-Mar-14 22:39:54

Agree with Zigzag - nothing to be gained by criticising the 3 that have walked away

iamsoannoyed Sun 09-Mar-14 22:51:50

Well, I think it depends on the reason- there are valid reasons to distance yourself from someone who is "in need". For instance, could it be that they can't cope with all of this?

Maybe they are having to put themselves first at this time for their own physical or mental health? Maybe they don't feel they can actually help this person anymore, and are only likely to make matters worse.

It could be that they just can't be bothered and have "abandoned ship" of course. Which isn't nice, but your friend may well be better off without them if they simply can't be bothered.

You asked for stories. Here's mine.

I had a friend while at university, who began self-harming and displayed destructive behaviour (sleeping around, drinking too much resulting in her doing stupid things- and a few very mean and horrible things on a couple of occasions). I have heard through the grapevine that she has since been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Her self-harming worsened around the same time as my dad became seriously ill (he was hospitalised for almost a year, spending nearly 4 months in and out of ICU) and as I was at university, we still had course work and exams etc.

I simply didn't have the emotional or physical energy to deal with her problems, my own problems and studying. I had already begun to tire of being one of her "shoulder's to cry on" (not to mention the emotional manipulation), keeping an eye on her and trying to perform damage to limitation after she had done something stupid/embarrassing/mean- and I had been considering distancing myself, as it all felt one-sided most of the time.

I guess my dad becoming ill just hastened what would have happened anyway, but I did quite suddenly just stop being there for her after one particular event where she self-harmed (she had done more damage than she had intended- it wasn't a suicide attempt) and I found her- this was shortly after I found out my dad was back in ICU and given less than a 5% chance of survival. She knew this. I just couldn't take any more and I had to keep away for my own sake.

When I backed off, a couple of other people did too. After talking it through with some friends, it seems a number of them were feeling as I had been, but were worried others would think they were horrible people if they stopped being friends with this girl, so carried on- but had noticed that there had not been a nasty backlash against me, so felt more able to walk away.

A few people did judge me harshly- used similar arguments to you. I'm no longer friends with them, but I don't think judging people is going to help you or your friend.

I understand you are trying to stick up for your friend, and it sounds like they are lucky to have someone who will be there for them. You know these other people and maybe they don't have a good reason and are simply being flaky when things get tough. Though they have stuck around for quite a long time for "flaky" people (I'm assuming they've been supportive for the 2 years of worsening mental health issues).

Has it occurred to you that one or more of these people do have a good reason that you aren't aware of? Maybe they don't have one "good" single reason, but just feel overwhelmed and cant cope anymore. It doesn't necessarily make them mean, selfish or heartless.

I don't know. On the face of it, it's an awful thing for said friends to do. However, do you know what these friends have going on in their personal lives? For example, if a friend of mine attempted suicide right now, I would try my damndest to support them. But I also have 5 other, serious issues going on in my life or the lives of my very close family, that mean that I have very little left to give. I'm emotionally burned out, and I'd worry that in my current mindset, I'd do more harm than good. As, try as I might, I just can't switch off everything else that is happening. I personally am hanging on by a thread.

I'm neither defending nor condoning your friends taking a step back, just explaining why I might have to do so, if I were them.

I really do feel for your friend, and hope that they get lots of support from people who are in a position to give it.

Glasshammer Sun 09-Mar-14 23:08:03

They sound like fair weather friends - which is fine as Its natural to have a few. I treat my closest friends as family and wouldn't consider abandoning people I love. Our relationships are meaningful and special. Obviously if they were bombarding me, we'd have to talk it through.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 09-Mar-14 23:13:02

Not everyone can provide the level of support your friend clearly needs.

Do they have families who need them? Their own mental health issues which they do not discuss?

There are various things that could compromise the ability to provide support. It's great that you can provide that support but everybody is different.

I hope your friend gets better soon.

WilsonFrickett Sun 09-Mar-14 23:15:10

I have complicated feelings around suicide that I'm not going to go into on here. But I would find supporting a friend through a suicide attempt extremely difficult. I like to think I could but tbh I'm not sure. Everyone has their limits.

However if they have all got together and decided to do this en masse to make some kind of point, that is extremely spiteful and YANBU.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 09-Mar-14 23:17:58

Agree 100% with iamsoannoyed

I've had to cut ties with people like this in the past too. You get to the point where the cost to your own well being is just too high. I want to be a good friend, but in a choice between supporting someone else through mental health issues vs preserving my own sanity, I'll choose myself every time. I think you're being a bit self righteous, actually. You don't know what the other ex-friends have to deal with.

springykyrie Sun 09-Mar-14 23:25:23

Great post Glasshammer. I think people generally have no idea how to set boundaries in a respectful way and can feel out of their depth. But you stick with a close friend imo.

A lot of people don't understand, are ignorant, that suicide is an illness and assume the suicidal person is 'selfish'. couldn't be further from the truth, usually (though not always); just as some people think someone having a difficult time is somehow selfishly putting a burden on others (<sigh>), they can view suicide in the same way. Particularly as mental illness is invisible.

it is very harsh for your friend that their friends have jumped ship at such a crucial time but I do hope the right support is now in place to step up and 'hold' them at this awful time. I do hope so.

runnermum1974 Sun 09-Mar-14 23:29:25

Regardless of what those 3 were going through, the timing was inappropriate. They could have at least waited a month. Or just distanced themselves quietly.

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