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How do you support someone who has tried to commit suicide? Trigger warning

(17 Posts)
Crossroadsforsome Sat 27-Aug-16 12:31:25

A member of my family has a history of anxiety and depression, of taking overdoses but has always sought professional help and become stable again with the help of medication, counselling and exercise. I thought she was doing really well.

I have not seen her yet but I have learned she was pretty out of it last night and she has bruises around her neck as if she has tried to hang herself. She denies doing so and said her necklace got caught.

She had someone with her last night but don't want her to be alone over this weekend so will ask her to stay with me.

I am very much out of my depth here, what can I do or say to her to support?

dangermouseisace Sat 27-Aug-16 20:13:46

I don't know what to suggest but I'm suggesting that her excuse that her necklace got caught is absolute Bullshite.

I'd probably say that you were worried about her, without mentioning the neck thing, that she didn't quite seem herself…kind of leaving it open ended for her to say something if she wanted to rather than accusing her of something that she will try to hide. You are wise to not want to leave her alone. If she's been trying to hang herself then really she needs help sooner rather than later.

TitaniasTits Sat 27-Aug-16 20:21:04

Let her talk if she wants to (my family refused to discuss it and kept trying to "jolly me along - well-meant but unhelpful) but don't push it as she may not be ready. I didn't speak or even react for days afterwards, and my first breakthrough was crying in my brother's arms. He hasn't even said anything, he just happened to walk in at the right moment.

Keep an eye on her. The fact that she's denying it suggests to me that she may try again - IME the people who are the most open about their suicidal feelings are the ones least likely to go ahead with it.

Let her know it's OK to feel what she's feeling, but remind her that there's all sorts of help out there.

Take care of yourself too. It's very hard to be the support to someone going through this. flowers

Crossroadsforsome Sat 27-Aug-16 21:13:45

She came over for dinner tonight and I asked if she was feeling a bit better and she said she was. That she had had a meltdown last night and a good cry. Said she felt better now.

I gave her a 'knowing' hug and said if she wanted to talk i would listen. She said she was better. I did not mention the neck thing, even though she was wearing a low down neckline with statement necklace.

A bit further along this evening, she asked me if the marks on her neck was obvious. I said now she mentioned it yes it was. I asked what happened and she said she was skipping and it got caught and whipped around. The mark was to the front only.

Does this mean it is attention seeking? That she is less likely to go through with it?


dangermouseisace Sat 27-Aug-16 21:30:59

I wouldn't say anything was attention seeking. You have to exert quite a bit of pressure to create a mark…if someone has created a mark they have put their life at risk- whether they intended to or not. Only your friend will know what the intention was, but personally I would sincerely doubt that anything using a ligature was attention seeking. She may well be being honest in saying that she felt better- she might have called someone and had a chat, she may have decided not to go through with it. However, she has opened up to you a bit, and importantly she knows that you are there for her. She's also come to yours for dinner- that is a good thing.

I'd keep checking in with her- sometimes if people find you've done something they can they can then disappear as they don't know how to cope with it (not saying that is you at all by the way) but it's important to make your presence felt- that you are there, and you're not freaked out (even if you are!)

Crossroadsforsome Sat 27-Aug-16 21:37:13

Thanks for all the replies. She is still here now and seems very bright. I didn't see the state she was in last night but I would never have known if nobody had told me.

Hopefully she will start to rebuild her mental health soon. She is proactive at trying new things but once in a while has a major wobble, does something silly but then call us to let us know.

dangermouseisace Sat 27-Aug-16 21:43:13

that's good news crossroads

OnceThereWasThisGirlWho Sun 28-Aug-16 16:10:01

Please, please do not go the route of categorising these things as either "serious with 100% intent to die" or "attention seeking". There is a whole range between those two. "Attention seeking" is one of those phrases that is seriously loaded, has a negative meaning, and yet one can easily apply it to most situations if one wants to. For example, if your friend had gone to the mental health team and said "I feel like killing myself"; that could be interpreted as attention seeking as she would literally be seeking attention. Which means a lot of people crying out for help can be labelled very negatively and not helped until it's too late. Plus, if someone genuinely makes what they know will only be an "attempt", what the hell has happened/why hasn't anyone helped/listened before they've had to take this drastic step to communicate how bad they feel?

IMO the "by who cried wolf" story generally applied to this context is uttery wrong. Instead, I see it as someone being attacked by the wolf, calling for help and the rush of people to help scares the wolf away. Repeatedly. Until they decide there must be no wolf because they haven't seen it...

[Thinking about it, it's bizarre, like services/others don't expect their treatment/support to actually work. So when it does and the person feels better (enough to be safe) they decide they can't have been ill/suicidal in the first place...]

Sorry, off on a tangent there. Anyway I'd say just be there for your friend. Just a friend doing normal friend things and enjoying her company. You can let her know that you're there to talk to if necessary, and you have done that. But just normal friendship stuff without putting everything in a "mental health" context is really supportive.

Titflaps Sun 28-Aug-16 16:19:52

Can I just add, that frequently, people who have previously seemed depressed, and then a bit brighter can actually complete suicide shortly after - almost as if the decision being made to go ahead with the plan is a weight lifted from their shoulders. I don't know if I've articulated that clearly, but please don't feel like you can relax a bit just because she appears brighter today. Sorry to add that extra pressure - not my intention.

TenThousandSpoons Sun 28-Aug-16 16:30:32

Agree with Titflaps. My brother seemed very chilled out and happy one week before he took his own life and I've read that relatives/friends often say they thought the suicide victim seemed much better in themselves just before the end.

Crossroadsforsome Sun 28-Aug-16 21:25:32

Thank you for your responses, will keep a close eye on her, at least so she knows someone cares x

Petal40 Sun 28-Aug-16 21:32:04

Tut are 100% correct....once the decision is made ,the mood lifts ...the relief that you won't have to suffer any more is immense ..

Crossroadsforsome Sun 28-Aug-16 22:13:06

She went on a shopping spree the day after and came back elated with her purchases and really minimised what had happened the evening before.

Is this something to be worried about?

ChardonnayKnickertonSmythe Sun 28-Aug-16 22:17:28

Could she have bipolar?

Titflaps Sun 28-Aug-16 22:20:58

OP - as the saying goes - you can't take it with you. Keep a close eye.

Crossroadsforsome Sun 28-Aug-16 22:24:03

Yes she has BPD

ChardonnayKnickertonSmythe Sun 28-Aug-16 22:30:17

Then maybe the elation and the shopping are normal for the up.
Keep and eye, make sure she takes her meds.
You are doing what you can.

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