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Question - when someone is a suicide risk

(36 Posts)
becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 13:11:40

A family member (17yo) has just been discharged from hospital into our care - just overnight until his mum can pick him up tomorrow morning. The psychiatrist said that she thought he'd definitely be better off with us than on a mental ward, but warned us that he's been having suicidal thoughts and can't be left alone. She said that he's thought about taking an overdose repeatedly. My question is - should I throw out all medication or put all medication in our bedroom so that he can't take anything left in the kitchen/bathroom while we're asleep? Should I sleep on the sofa next to his bed to keep an eye on him in the night? She said not to leave him alone, but how 'not alone' is 'not alone'? He is rational but very sad - suffering with depression after a series of bereavements.

I want to ensure his safety but would going around hiding medication in front of him (as, since I can't leave him, I can't do it without him being there iyswim) be appropriate? I'll do whatever it takes to keep him safe, but don't want to treat him like he's in some kind of trouble, when he's just very vulnerable right now. He's watching TV atm, hence I can ask you guys without him seeing what I'm up to on my laptop. But I might disappear if he needs me. Thanks in advance. Feeling a bit awful and helpless...

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 13:33:41

bumping - need to make a decision on whether to do a 'medication sweep' before we set off to get my DS from primary... Anyone, please?

purplepenguin86 Tue 25-Sep-12 13:44:53

Can you lock all the medication away from him somehow? You don't need to chuck it out, but it needs to be somewhere he can't get to it. I think see how it seems to be going re. if you need to sleep on the sofa next to his bed. It's a difficult one, and to be honest I think the psychiatrist has put too much responsibility on you in saying he is really suicidal and can't be left alone. If he is on any medication himself get him to give them to you, and just give him what he needs to take, and casually hang around while he takes it (ie you want to make sure he is having it, but without standing and staring at him!). Sorry this reply is a bit disjointed, I'm just saying things as I think of them.

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 13:52:58

Thank you for reply purplepenguin86 - very kind of you and very much appreciated right now. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think I need to get all medication into our bedroom and locked. I won't sleep properly if I've left it out, even if I sleep in my own bed. Think you're right about seeing how it's going on whether to sleep on sofa next to him. DH just volunteered for that duty should the need arise. Our home is very small so even in our room we're not sleeping very far away from him - we'd hear him if he got up in the night. Maybe I'll just leave our bedroom door open and ask him to do the same, 'just to give me peace of mind that I know you're okay.. and so you can hear your UncleBecstargazey's epic snoring which we all find very soothing...'. I think the psychiatrist was being very cautious - and so am I. He's a 17 yo boy, I'm not taking any chances with him.

NimpyWindowMash Tue 25-Sep-12 13:53:43

I would lock it away or dispose of it, even if he has to see you doing it. But perhaps you could do it surreptitiously?

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 14:00:47

Our home is so small, and I am keeping a very beady eye on him, so anything I do he's going to see me doing. I'm thinking that I'll be direct. "I'm just putting our medication together in my room so that I know you'll be okay. I don't like to embarrass you, but it would stress me out to leave it out when you've been feeling this way.' What do you think? I think if I go around silently putting paracetamol and razors into a bin bag it's going to look far more weird than just saying something? Am about to get started on it, as school run time looms.

hippoCritt Tue 25-Sep-12 14:06:08

Stashed away in suitcase under the bed ideally locked or even in your car over night and keep keys with you. It must be very stressful for you remember to look after yourself too. Do you have medication for him too?

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 14:06:48

Oh, before I go thanks purplepenguin86 and thanks NimpyWindowMash for replying. It helps not to make a decision like this in total isolation and felt better just hearing other people's thoughts - he's not my son, so that makes me even more second-guess-y... Big flowery thank yous!

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 14:10:48

hippoCritt Just read yours as I posted mine! Thank you - hadn't thought of the car. That would be very secure. Thanks for thinking of me in all this - I do appreciate the kind thought, as I am knackered after all the hospital to and fro, and the past few weeks of stressing about this boy and whether I was being alarmist or whether I needed to get him help (thank god I seemed to make the right call in the end). His mum picks him up tomorrow, thank goodness. He needs his mum right now. thanks for you too.

tedhutchinson Tue 25-Sep-12 15:00:38

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our <a target="_blank" href="/info/netiquette" rel="nofollow">Talk Guidelines</a>. Replies may also be deleted.

purplepenguin86 Tue 25-Sep-12 15:04:33

You sound wonderfully supportive and caring, I am glad he has people like you around him. It sounds like you are doing everything that you can for him. Having been in his position myself in the past, I would say it is fair enough to say what you are doing, ie removing temptation - he is old enough to understand. I hope that his mum is as caring and supportive of him as you seem to be. I hope that you are holding up ok yourself? It's a lot of stress I imagine.

fluffydressinggown Tue 25-Sep-12 17:08:34

Lock the medication away, don't let him go to the shops alone (I used to tell people I had forgot something and had to nip back in and would buy things then - so keep an eye on him).

Honestly when you feel so so shit it is quite reassuring when someone takes charge of keeping you safe so I am sure he won't mind.

You sound very caring.

Flojo1979 Tue 25-Sep-12 17:14:13

DO NOT say what u just suggested, its awful, and putting ideas in to his head isnt helpful. Wait til he's popped to the loo and do a sweep downstairs, pretend to go to the loo and do a sweep upstairs.
Wait til he's fallen asleep before u do.
The doc is right, a psych ward is no place for a 17 yr old.

fluffydressinggown Tue 25-Sep-12 17:22:23

See it is so personal - I wouldn't mind someone saying that to me at all, and for me, it wouldn't put ideas in my head.

So judge it on your relationship with him.

purplepenguin86 Tue 25-Sep-12 17:41:03

No, I've had it said to me and not had a problem with it. If someone is already suicidal you're not going to be putting anything into their head by saying that - it's already there.

becstargazeypie Tue 25-Sep-12 18:12:34

Thanks for the lovely words purplepenguin! Sorry Flojo but I'd already said it when you posted. He said 'I won't do anything' and I said 'Just so I'm not worrying about you, okay?' and he agreed. The psychiatrist had said to me that he was having repeated thoughts of taking an overdose so I don't think I was putting ideas in his head - just verbalising an idea that we both knew was already in his head. We don't have a downstairs and an upstairs - the bathroom is just two yards from the living room, the kitchen is one yard from the bathroom... (You can imagine how lovely and snug it is with an extra 17 yo staying over! Bless him, he can't even fully stretch out on the fold up bed because we haven't got enough floor). Yes I'm REALLY glad the dr didn't admit him - not just any psych ward but a psych ward in central London at 2am. I would hate to think of him being there. Gotta go and cook tea for everyone.

Thanks for the support everyone - really appreciate it xxx

NimpyWindowMash Tue 25-Sep-12 18:17:26

In my view, if people have suicidal thoughts, you don't need to worry about putting ideas into their heads. It is better to be very straightforward. There is nothing wrong with questions like : Are you still feeling suicidal? Do you have any plans to actually do it? How do you think you might do it? What are the pros and cons?
OP, well done, you are being very strong.

fluffydressinggown Tue 25-Sep-12 18:20:36

You are doing a great job smile

I agree that suicidal thoughts are better out in the open (so to speak) - makes you feel less alone and less scared of it all.

Besom Tue 25-Sep-12 18:22:16

He is very lucky to have such a caring person as you.

I've had training about this through my job and was told to be direct with people and talk to them about their thoughts because it is the only way you can work out what the actual risk is and help them. I agree with what purplepenguin said.

domesticgodless Tue 25-Sep-12 18:29:40

|As a frequently suicidal person I'd love someone like you on my side smile

Yes I agree with the direct approach. Are you still suicidal, I will do whatever I can to stop you doing that.

If you can make him feel liked/loved/valued and not a burden at all this will also help him. Suicidal people usually feel guilty and burdensome.

domesticgodless Tue 25-Sep-12 18:30:25

yes and let him talk about his suicidal thoughts with no judgement if he wants.

A helpful response is 'I'm so glad you didn't do that/ didn't succeed in your attempt'.

hippoCritt Tue 25-Sep-12 23:28:48

You sound so lovely, I think mentioning the removal of medication is really important, it says you are willing to talk about it and he's not on his own. Hope tonight is peaceful for you all, so glad you were there for him

purplepenguin86 Tue 25-Sep-12 23:37:46

By the way, I agree with domesticgodless - can you open your house up as a respite place for suicidal people please? wink

becstargazeypie Wed 26-Sep-12 20:11:39

Oh thank you all - his mum came and picked him up at lunch time, then I needed a bit of a cry and some tea and chocolate. Then I came back to see these lovely posts - thank you. What you said about being a burden really resonates domesticgodless. He was very worried about that, kept dwelling on it. I asked him if in ten years time my DS was feeling like this, would he begrudge him a bed and a hug and of course he said he'd do anything for DS. I said 'The way you feel about ds is how I feel about you. You were a baby when I was a teenager, I babysat you and played with you. Could you ever think DS was a burden to you?'

But he was so low. It hurts to see someone I love in such pain. I think I'll need another good cry before tomorrow. I don't think I'm strong enough to open that respite place just yet! But you all have my thanks and very best wishes xxx

purplepenguin86 Thu 27-Sep-12 15:58:31

Just wanted to say that I am glad it all went ok for you. It sounds like you did all the right things, and I am sure he appreciated being told he wasn't a burden etc - when you're feeling bad that reassurance that you aren't completely worthless and that people care about you and don't think of you as a burden can be really helpful. It's totally normal for you to be feeling emotional now - it is a lot of pressure, and it is hard to see someone you care about in so much pain. I hope that things improve for him soon, and I am sure it will help him to know he has someone so caring and supportive that he can turn to. You coped brilliantly with it all.

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