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Suicide prevention. . . how to help

(10 Posts)
Jezabelle Mon 30-May-11 23:01:12

My FIL is suffering from depression. DH and I are very worried about him. He has got in a dreadful financial mess and it looks like he might lose his house and be left with nothing. All this has just come out over the past week as he has kept it hidden until now.

Our fear is that he may take his own life. My DH has asked him if he is having these thoughts and he has said no, but he has been behaving strangely. He has told his wife where all the important documents are kept "just incase she should need them". She hasn't "needed" them in the 35 years of their marriage (a very traditional marriage) so why should she need them now? He also keeps saying he is a failure as a husband and father and that he should just "go", but he has no money to "go" anywhere so I'm hoping he doesn't see suicide as his only option. He also takes long drives/walks alone a lot and stays away for hours.

Sorry if I'm rambling. I do know that you cannot stop a person if they decide to kill themselves, but I just want to do anything in my power to prevent it if at all possible. He is a lovely, kind man and a wonderful grandad to my DCs. They adore him. Oh, and he refuses point blank to see a doctor. He's in his 60s and would see it as such a weakness unfortunately.

Any advice or thoughts would be very much appreciated.

cestlavielife Tue 31-May-11 00:01:36

who has diagnosed the depression?

his wife can go to their gp and tell gp everythig - then gp can decide if take action or not.
wife can take him to gp?

if he acts strangely the wife/son//you can call 999 or take him to A&E for assessment.

Jezabelle Tue 31-May-11 13:49:14

He has not been diagnosed with depression, but his symptons are very similar to my DH when he suffered from severe depression. He is tearful a lot and can't cope with basic jobs when usually he is a very capable man. He also suffers with anxiety attacks. Eg goes somewhere with DW and then can't bare to get out of the car.

He has said he will NOT see the doctor and if anyone gets one for him he will "leave".

Writing this I guess there is nothing more we can do. If he won't get help, we can't force him. Just the 999 option in times of crisis.

I just hoped there was a little bit more we could offer him so it doesn't get to that stage.

Again, any comments much appreciated.

pippop1 Tue 31-May-11 17:23:03

His wife could call the Dr and they could try asking him in for a "routine blood test" or some such thing. He might go then. To make it look authentic she could be asked to go too.

Not much help I know, but it might work.

ada07 Tue 31-May-11 17:27:26

I think that if you are this worried your DH needs to make an appointment with his fathers GP to discuss the concerns.

NanaNina Tue 31-May-11 19:05:38

Yes I agree with ada70 - I think your DH possibly together with his mother make an appointment with his GP. The GP obviously can't really discuss any detail because of confidentiality, but he/she can listen and advise what you can do. Don't think any GP would enter into anything like pretending they were asking for a blood test as that would be deceitful. However the GP might agree to visit when he is likely to be in.

I hate to say this but I think suicide is a real risk. I am not a medic (suffer from depression) and it certainly sounds like this man is severely depressed and is always taken seriously as around 25% of people with severe depression take their own lives. I have felt like this many times through the last year and had actually made a plan. I was admitted to psych ward for 3 months last year and was constantly thinking of suicide.

Your FIL probably doesn't realise that there is medication that can lift the worst of the symptoms, and if he could get a prescription, it could make all the difference. They only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause, which seems to be financial matters in this case and of course that will underline his feelings of being a failure, which most people with depression feel anyway. I understand him not wanting to see a GP but I honestly feel that every endeavour should be made to get him to a GP or get one to visit.

In an emergency (out of hours) you can see the crisis team at the local hospital, which is what I did and we had to wait for 3 hours! They sent me home with valium but I nose dived and the GP came out and referred me to a consultant psychiatrist who admitted me to hospital with my agreement. I honestly think I would not be here now if that hadn't happened.

If a person is in danger to themselves or others and refuse hospital treatment they can be admitted under a section of the Mental Health Act, often known as being "sectioned" but this is always a last resort and always because of the concern for the person with a severe mental illness.

Really hope you can get some help and support to this poor man.

Jezabelle Thu 02-Jun-11 21:08:54

Thank you for all of your responces. There have been developments since my last post.

He has just told his DD that he has come downstairs at 4 in the morning and considered killing himself in order that his wife get an insurance pay out. Unfortunately his DD (in her 20s) didn't handle it very well. Said he shouldn't be talking like that and she wishes he hadn't told her.

Nina, I really do know that suicide is a very real threat. My cousin commited suicide when she was 16 and just 18 months ago my DH was having suicidal thoughts. He is well now and got there mainly through getting the right medication, so my FIL has seem this working.

I am however still very unsure as to where the family should go from here. He is adament that he won't see a doctor and has said that if one comes to him he will leave and "never come back". He is an extremely proud man who feels that he has lost everything. The main reasons I feel as if getting a doctor involves against his will are that:

a) If a doctor came he would feel betrayed and may turn away from his family, (the only support he has) as a result.

b) It would take away his last bit of pride and dignity. We had gone against his explicit wishes and he may feel he has nothing left.

Worst case senario is that he kills himself after a visit from the doc. Then his wife and children would be sure to feel eternally guilty.

The only way I can see it working is that he is sectioned, but this seems like such a horific option in so many ways. I have never seen someone being sectioned before and am not sure he would qualify. He cries a lot, but they don't section people for that. Although he has admitted to suicidal thoughts, this does not mean suicidal intention.

If the doc came round and he put on a good front, then they may decide not to section him, but the fact that they had been would make suicide more likely. Or, doctor could come and he could just storm out and "never come back". Would they/could they physically stop him? He's a big bloke.

I am so aware that he desperately needs medical help, but I am just so unsure as to whether it is right to get it against his will taking all the circumstances into account.

My DH is going up there againn on Saturday. He will confront him head on about his suicidal thoughts and encourage him to talk about how he feels. He will try and assertain how far these thoughts have gone, (eg plans made etc). I have also suggested that my DH tell him directly that his wife can handle losing her home and all her posessions, but would never recover from having to identify his body. This is after all the truth, and I thought it might make him face up to the reality of suicide, ie not being the easy option for those left behind.

Wow. Longest post I've ever written I think! Thanks for taking the time to read.

NanaNina Thu 02-Jun-11 22:28:48

Jezabelle - I think you are possibly overthinking this thing about getting a GP to see your FIL and prescribe ADs which could lift the worse excesses of his depression. You say he may feel betrayed and turn away from his family - but where would he go. Is there a chance that he might feel some measure of relief? You say it could take away his pride and dignity - but surely that would be better than taking away his life.

I agree with you that sectioning him would seem unlikely. Given that only 10% of people who visit a GP with depression are referred to a psychiatrist and an even smaller number admitted to hospital, it does not seem that he would need to be sectioned. Prolonged bouts of crying and suicidal thoughts are as you know symptoms of depression.

Glad your DH is going to see his dad and have a talk with him. Could he persaude him to go the GP do you think.....maybe talking about options if they lose the house could help a little - not sure. You and your DH will know best how to proceed.

Sending good wishes

cestlavielife Fri 03-Jun-11 15:58:43

so what is worst that can happen?
that he leaves and tries to kill himself?

in reality -
if gp comes and talks to him
and he storms out -
then you can call police 999 to go look for him as a vulnerable person.
if he is ranting at police then police will take him to A&E and in roundabout way you force the issue

in the house you could alarm or lock cabinets wih knives and drugs.

doing nothing is your only other option -which isnt an option.

Rooble Fri 03-Jun-11 16:11:21

If he is proud and unwilling to talk to anyone in the family then would you consider giving him the phone no of Samaritans (08457909090) so he can talk through things with someone totally impartial and uninvolved? (i dont mean you should instruct him to ring, just suggest he consider it).
They will not give advice and will not judge but will listen while he works through what's going on in his head; they may help him recognise that speaking to a dr would actually be a good idea.
If he'd prefer it would also be possible to go into his local branch and speak to someone face-to-face.
Take care

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