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My DS (12) doesn’t want to be alive anymore. Please, please help me help him feel better(29 Posts)
I haven’t been on here for so long, but am desperate for some help with my son, who’s nearly 13 (year 8). This will be long, but if you can bear with me, thanks so much.
Background: DS is very physically developed for his age. He started puberty at age 8, and is now 6’, covered in body hair, shaving and looks about 18. We have to take ID to his sports games. So physically/hormonally, he’s been like a teenager for a while. And I think (as does he) that the conflict between how physically developed he is, and then how emotionally resilient and socially perceptive he is (or isn’t) for his 12 years, is causing him a lot of angst. He’s become pretty interested in girls this year, but of course they’re all at such different stages of development around this age – and they’re all still so young.
A few weeks ago, DS’s girlfriend split up with him – his first girlfriend since going to secondary school. They’d been ‘together’ for about a month, with the relationship mostly conducted via text and video chat (not ideal), as they’re at different schools and live a way apart. DS ended up baring his soul to her I think – I think he had quite a crush on her and felt he loved her and confessed all this, overcome by his feelings, and my guess is that she got a bit scared off by his intensity. He was never unkind, or sexual – he’s a really respectful and conscientious boy; he was just maybe a bit overly communicative about everything he was feeling.
He went to pieces when she broke up with him, even though he didn’t seem all that happy when they were together. I expected this – of course it hurts when someone breaks up with you. And I’m trying to be as empathic as possible because, while he’s only 12, he’d become pretty hung up on her and clearly had some strong feelings for her.
Fast forward a week, and having seemed to gradually pick up with lots of TLC, he became suicidal. He was messaging friends late at night saying he didn’t want to be alive anymore and wanted to kill himself; I had their parents contacting me, feeling very concerned. This is utterly out of character for DS – nothing like this has ever happened before. He’s had phases of being a bit angry or anxious, but never depressed, and never anything this severe. These feelings continued into Sunday last weekend and DS, normally a big strapping lad who’s fairly emotionally tough and has a healthy outlook on things, was sobbing all evening. He absolutely, emphatically didn’t want to be alive; he said he wished he’d already killed himself. He asked me to kill him. He’s tormenting himself over the break-up, saying it’s all his fault, that he made her uncomfortable, that girls always break up with him (he had a few fickle primary school ‘relationships’ too, and the girls ended it with him), that his friends now think he’s weird (because of how much he messaged his girlfriend, and for wanting to kill himself), that he’ll never have a girlfriend and will always be alone, etc.
Looking on, I can see he’s got himself completely stuck in a way of looking at what’s happened that is making him, and keeping him, depressed. I’d feel shit if a voice in my head was talking to me like this constantly. He wasn’t in a frame of mind to go to school for a few days and I took him to the GP (who was fairly useless), and have now engaged school’s support – the counsellor and nurse have been very understanding and supportive. I’ve listened to DS lots, gently (and sometimes a bit more forcefully) tried to encourage him to see things a different way, to encourage some perspective, to suggest he is kinder to himself as he grows and learns, and I felt this week we made progress. I’ve been talking with him about how much to open up to acquaintances versus friends; to build closeness in person first and not via messages (not so easy at an all-boys school); to keep chat light and fun at this age – and he seems to be getting it. The last few days, DS has reported feeling more like a 6 or 7 out of 10 (we’ve been touching base with a number like this several times a day) and there have been glimmers of his old self – some laughs.
But tonight, he didn’t want to be alive anymore, again. He said there’s no point being alive. He said 'everyone' said his girlfriend was fine straightaway after breaking up, but he's still hurting weeks later. He wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. He said it wouldn’t affect me much anyway because it’s not like I’m dependent on him. He seems so resigned to misery; so flat. He’s so fragile at the moment.
It’s breaking my heart. I'm so worried about him, but I feel like I can’t help him much. I can’t just nod and agree with the things he’s saying! I feel like we need some kind of constructive, professional therapy for him that is going to help him learn new ways of thinking that can serve him well into the future – but nothing of the sort is on offer through school or the GP. His dad thinks he won’t get better if he isn’t able to just wallow for a bit first; he thinks he needs to feel miserable for a while, before he’s likely to reach a point where he recognises he’s not altogether well and needs and wants help. But to me, it feels negligent to just see how he gets on, because he’s talking repeatedly about not wanting to be alive. And his dad and I aren’t together; I’m seeing DS every day, and to me he seems fragile and often alarmingly low.
He’ll see the school nurse next week, but other than that, there are no other appointments or interventions booked in. Should I book something up privately? If so, what would be the most effective kind of therapy? I’d have to raid savings to fund it, but I’d willingly do that to get my lovely boy back. He’s normally such a settled boy, and he has plenty of lovely friends, is doing great at school and in his various sports teams, and he’s gorgeous. He’s just lovely. How can I help him put this recent blip into perspective – chalk it up to experience – and get him back to seeing and celebrating all the good stuff he has going for him? What can I reasonably expect in terms of him getting better? What can I say to him to help him get well, and build some resilience? Because there will be more girlfriends and other challenges.
I expect some lows during adolescence (I remember my own), but not lingering suicidal thoughts like this – surely this isn’t normal teenage angst? And I think because his dad’s adult life has been dominated, and hugely detrimentally affected, by mental illness (bipolar disorder), I am particularly keen to get DS any help he needs with his mental health, without delay.
Thanks so much for getting this far, and for any advice.
I'm so sorry. This is my worst nightmare as a parent.
I think counselling is definitely a good thing. You would probably have to go privately to access someone quickly. If you are willing to post what are you are in someone might have some recommendations. Otherwise, if you trust the school nurse try her.
Does he still see his dad? From your post, it sounds like you and he have an amazing relationship and he opens up to you but I was wondering if there was an adult male who might be able to chat to him . Do you think that would help him??
You must be frantic, I really hope you are able to source some help.
Oh OP, I am so sorry. I have nothing very helpful to add, I only have a daughter who is younger and nowhere near this stage but I wanted to say you sound like you are being an amazing support to your poor heartbroken boy.
Two tiny things stood out to me that might be helpful, when he said you wouldn't miss him, but he would be so, so missed - the death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare, grab him, hold him tight, tell him you could not go on without him, the pain he's feeling now about the loss of his girlfriend is a pinprick to what you would endure.
The other is that some people do feel things more deeply than the rest of us and these can be our poets, authors, artists,songwriters etc would it help to express any of his feelings artistically or just let him know that one day he will meet other people who see (feel?) the world the same way he does but in the mean time just accept that while some people run faster/jump higher etc than others then some people just feel deeper and it doesn't mean other people are wrong, just that we are all different and special in our own ways.
Very good luck to you and your boy. Xx
you poor thing, if his suicidal thoughts are persistent and pervasive take him to A&E. Ask him if he has specific plans or a general I can't go on. Can he see a future, anything to look forward to in coming days, weeks. you mention early onset of puberty his emotions might be more hormonally driven than in average 13 year old.
if he continues to feel so awful and desperate I'd take mine to A&E and he can see duty psychiatrist and depending on assessment perhaps referral to child and adolescent mental health service. you have to push and push to get anywhere with NHS. you know your son best so don't be fobbed off. Camhs can offer psychology, medication etc the school nurse will likely be a general nurse not a mental health one.
I hope this is helpful not worrying, I work in mental health, adult not kids but pm if need any advice.
love from a fellow mum xx
I agree with PP about A&E if you think there is an imediate risk. If the risk is urgent but less imediate take him to see a different GP (it may be the first one wrote it off as teenage heartbreak, but it seems to have persisted for a while) over the weekend, if you don't think it can wait that long you can try to get and out of hours GP appointment via 111 aswell, I've done this for DH. I know with adults the nearest relative (you, in your sons case) can legally request a mental health act assessment from mental health services by contacting the, directly. As I say I don't know how it works for kids, but I would have thought there would be a similar process. The Mind website has some example letters for requesting this. See if you can find a direct number for CAMHS in your area online. I would have thought they would have a number to contact out of hours for emergencies.
So sorry OP - our kid's pain is our pain isn't it - the GP should have referred him to CAMHS (Child & Mental Health Service) there is often a waiting list and it does depend on who you get to be honest but there needs to be a referral asap. Not sure if the school nurse could refer.
The other thing is your DS could look at the website YoungMinds
Sorry meant to say that if you want to go private you could look at clinical psychologists in your area. Go on the BACP site (British Association of Councillors and Psycotherapists) there is usually a short description of their areas of expertise. The only thing is boys of your son's age are not usually comfortable talking about their feelings. You could try art therapy.
Yes - go private but also go back to the GP practice - see a different doctor and insist on a Cahms referral. Also check (online) if your area has a "community CAHMS" service which you can contact directly for hrlp. You could also try contacting your local Mind or their helpline - they can usually point you to the best service in your area.
It must be so worrying for you.
Just another thought - if your DS hasn't even shown suicidal tendencies before, it could be that he is just over reacting and has what is known as suicide ideation (suicidal thoughts but no intention of carrying it through) so maybe wait a few days and see how things go. Let him know you're there for him but try not to show him you are panicked about his thoughts. Stay calm and measured if you can even though it's going to be tough.
Ah the poor lad. I'd reassure him that the girl was upset and felt bad, but some people are better at hiding their emotions.
Can you get him out to clubs or something so he can meet girls more locally?
If it helps you can tell him that one of my friends killed himself and I miss him every day.
OP you sound like such an amazing mom and your son is lucky to have you. Sadly I have experience of family suicide. I would advise you to take any threats seriously and to get him help asap. It sounds like he does not have the coping tools to deal with big emotional problems (for him). Unless he gets help,mainly through therapy he will always be at risk of suicide. My LO had two previous attempts and never received any help. 10 years lateral he tried it again but this time he ended his own life. Therapy will teach him self worth, how to put things in perspective and the tools to cope with difficult feelings. It is so important that he knows he can talk to you about anything no matter how small or silly it sounds. Don't want to offend but your husband has the wrong attitude, this is not an issue to be taken lightly. It must be thoroughly dealt with. I really wish you the very best
Please, please, please take him to A and E.
Him asking you to kill him is already him suggesting a plan.
Have only read the OP's original thread but please call 101 for advice. They will probably have you take your son to hospital and then have cahms assess him.
Are things any better Curtains?
I've been thinking about you and your gorgeous boy. Hope he is feeling calmer and you have a plan
Thank you all so much for posting, and sorry for the slow reply.
We’ve had a better few days overall since Friday evening – got out in the sunshine, did some sport, and my eldest stepson (who DS often clashes with) has been a great support, hanging out with DS, playing games with him. I think DS has genuinely been feeling more positive – he’s felt “around a 6 or 7”, he said (and I’ve made a point of saying 10 would be a bit unnerving, and even a 9 would be exceptional).
But tonight, after some lovely time in the garden together – still bouncing around on the trampoline at 8pm – he quickly descended into utter darkness. He was almost unable to communicate – unable to speak. I couldn’t get him off his bed to clean his teeth; he couldn’t move. And then when he did after half an hour, he was angry and crashing around the place (which admittedly I did get cross with him about – he’s the biggest person in the household and he can’t behave in a threatening way or damage stuff). Once in bed, he was again saying repeatedly that he didn’t want to be here, wanted to kill himself, that life wasn’t worth living, that he didn’t care about anything or anyone anymore, including me and his sister (unheard of for him, as he adores her and we’re close). He was cold and callous – it was so upsetting.
When he has one of these descents, I try to stay close by as much as possible, although need to juggle this with a toddler who needs me too. I kept her up so that I could focus on him, but nipped out of his room briefly, and my partner and I heard a clatter and ran to his room to see he’d climbed out of his (ground floor) window. This was at 10pm, and we live in a dark village. He was wearing just his underwear.
I was beside myself with worry. My partner went out to look for him while I tried (unsuccessfully) to get hold of his dad. I was about to call the police when he came back and went straight to his bedroom and got into bed. I cuddled him and just sobbed and sobbed. After I’d calmed down a bit, I said I wanted to take him to A&E (thank you for this suggestion). I passed him his clothes and chivvied him, but he wouldn’t go. He said he doesn’t like all the attention and doesn’t want to talk about it and he was tired. Instead, I read to him until he fell asleep.
I can’t tell you how out of character all this is. And I don’t understand how he can seem relatively content one minute, then suicidal the next. He played with his football team today and seemed to genuinely enjoy it. He wants to go to school tomorrow and is looking forward to playing sport – how can he be looking forward to things and not want to be here? I don’t know. Maybe I’m being rubbish at empathising.
But I can handle him storming off in a huff in anger, but not disappearing into the night in desperation after telling me he doesn’t want to be alive anymore.
Many of you suggested CAMHS: both the school counsellor and another service the GP put us on to have said it takes a year to get an assessment round here. The counsellor herself said her now grown-up son was refused support from CAMHS until he hit rock bottom (whatever that is), and she had to watch him deteriorate before they were entitled to help. She said this delay has had a lasting effect on her son, which I really don’t want for DS.
So it seems we’re on our own. Do I tell the school nurse/counsellor about tonight? How much genuinely useful help can they actually put in motion? Or do I need to get on and book something up for DS myself? We’ve been offered a one-off youth counselling session a fairly long drive away, run by Relate. Do we want ‘counselling’? I’m thinking some more robust, evidence-based therapy would be more effective.
I am trying, gently, to get DS to see that it’s possible, even if he doesn’t believe it, that his thinking is faulty at the moment, and that he may need some help with learning new thinking styles for his health’s sake. Tonight, he was so adamant his view of life was right, and he categorically didn’t want help – was just resigned to misery.
As for his dad (*Rainbow*, you mentioned this): as I said, he has bipolar disorder (diagnosed but untreated), which DS is aware of and has experienced the repercussions of first-hand. He cares about DS very much, but DS isn’t that emotionally close to him. DS was starting to open up to me late tonight when his dad came over (I got hold of him eventually), and DS immediately stopped talking. DS knows his dad doesn’t have the answers. I might ask my brother to chat to DS, and we have a family friend who is in his twenties now (I used to babysit him!), who himself has had a few turbulent times growing up and some tough break-ups, and come out the other side. He’s a lovely lad, and DS likes him – they’ve hung out playing computer games a few times. I might ask him if he can offer some support.
Mediumred, you mentioned DS might feel more deeply than average. I wonder if you might be right. He’s quite a sensitive soul, and mulls over everything – analyses. I used to do this as a child and was told I “think too much”. Maybe he’s similar, and has experienced hurt/rejection that I just didn’t at his age. I’m not sure quite how to help him with this though; I don’t want him not to be the sensitive soul he is, but also I don’t want this to hurt him throughout his life (or cut it short).
Catrina, thanks for reminding me about Young Minds. I sent DS a link to them early last week, but I’ve now also messaged their advice line myself, and will see what they come back with. The ‘suicide ideation’ thing made sense until tonight, Catrina; he’d already said he’d never, ever jump in front of a train (he takes the train to school). But then he ran off, and I thought shit, maybe we need to hide the paracetamol, knives, etc. I don’t know. I don’t want to be dramatic – but neither take anything for granted.
Good idea to contact our local Mind – will do. And as for local clubs, yes, that would be good ideally. He does one sports club locally, but the others are near where he goes to school. And of course he’s playing in boys’ teams. His week is already full of activities (which he wants to do).
I'll see what Young Minds come back with, and Mind. We need something robust in place to help DS, I feel. Thank you all so much again for the hand-holding and advice. And QuestionableMouse and omg12345, I’m so, so sorry for your losses.
I hope this helps
Sending so much love and you're obviously doing a brilliant job and so great that you've got such a good connection with your son, I know my mum really struggled when she felt my younger brother had stopped confiding in her.
I would give counselling a go, a friend of mine is a counsellor and had seen a young lad in a similar situation and made huge progress. Also agree with looking at some artistic outlet.
Hope you get some headway with support as soon as possible!
I don't want to alarm you but a few things you've said make me think there's more to this than teen mh issues.
The premature and extreme puberty, his father being diagnosed as a sufferer of bipolar disorder (is his father tall, very muscular, deep voice, high sex drive?), strong romantic feelings, fast onset & deep depression I'm thinking there are a couple of possible physical causes for how he is. May explain his fathers situation too.
I think you should see a different GP and ask he be referred to an endocrinologist as soon as practical.
In the meant in carry on supporting and being kind to him and pushing to access professional support.
Did he say why he had jumped out the window in his underwear? It sounds like he's teetering on the edge of a psychotic break. It's terrifying when someone is in this level of intense distress.
Unfortunately bipolar does have a genetic component and the genetic component can be triggered by adolescent hormones.
I'm prepared to be flamed for this but there is a school of thought that says men and women process emotions differently. In general, women prefer to have a big talk and confide in someone. In general, men don't function like this and talking about things too much can make them feel worse. Not everyone but in general.
In general, men need distraction and to achieve some success in another sphere of life to regain their sense of compotence.
You mentioned sport OP, that's a great way for him to be distracted away from his negative feelings and thoughts, to achieve something he's good at and feel good about himself, and also the physical benefits of exercise to combat depression are scientifically proven.
Does he have problems with sweating/increased body temp? Does he have a lisp?
Thank you for the posts in the wee small hours.
Well, I got three hours' sleep - DS's episodes are always in the evening, and I then spend the night researching, posting on here, mulling it all over. It's so unclear what to do, when the service designed to help in these kinds of situations (CAMHS) is effectively unavailable to us.
To answer your questions...
Graphista, I agree there's more to this than teen ups and downs. DS has been 'hormonal' for years now, and we've seen him worry, and get angry, and row with his step-dad and me - and it all seemed very normal. This is different; I just know in my gut this is different.
I have obviously had it in the back of my mind that his dad has bipolar, and I know there's a 1 in 15 to 1 in 20 chance of DS developing this as a result. I've been encouraged until now in that he hasn't been depressed before, and he takes after my side of the family much more than his dad's. His dad didn't have his first depressed episode until his late teens/early twenties, with no hypomania until mid-twenties (following a distinct trigger). DS has never shown any signs of mania as yet. His dad also dabbled in drugs, which DS is adamant he'll never do - he knows these can complicate/exacerbate/trigger mental health problems.
His dad has a high sex drive when in an elevated mood, and promiscuity was a huge issue in our relationship. I don't know if DS has this (hes 12!), but DS is otherwise different to his dad physically - different build, taller.
But DS definitely has the strong romantic feelings, and his dad has always loved/lusted intensely - become almost inappropriately besotted with women. I don't think DS has been like this though; but once having a girlfriend, he has seemed to feel very strongly, very quickly. But couldn't that simply be a crush? I don't know.
He's had his heart broken. He's very young to deal with it. That in itself seems reason enough to feel low for a while. It's the suicidal thoughts and feelings that are so alarming, and the speed with which he can plummet at the end of a seemingly positive day.
DS doesn't sweat more than the average teen I don't think. He has had some issues with bad breath for a while, despite exemplary oral hygiene (as confirmed by his dentist). He is a very hot kid, though; has minimal bedding, rarely wears a jumper. No lisp though. How's all this significant? Graphista, what are you thinking?
I took DS to the GP when he was eight or nine, regarding his early development, and he was referred to a paediatrician. He had blood tests and a bone x-ray done, and although his bone development was considered somewhat ahead, he was still considered within the realms of normal. Should I re-contact that paediatrician?
Mysterycat23, DS is doing lots of sport - 10+ hours per week. He loves it, and it's one of the main reasons we took a punt on the selective school he's at, which is a bit of a trek. Our local ones don't offer these sporting opportunities. His parents' evening three weeks ago was great - the consensus was that he's a lovely, conscientious boy working at middling to above average. He has a very full week and gets tired, which doesn't help. He's adamant he wants to stay at the school though. There isn't an issue, as far as I can tell, of him not feeling competent and capable (other than with girls, as of late).
He has gone to school today, feeling a '3'. He says he's very depressed this morning but not suicidal. He's talking about coming home at lunchtime. I don't know how to find the balance between the distraction, normality and sport of school, and getting him urgent help.
And last night, he said that "thinking about things" had caused him to go downhill. I checked his phone and it said he and his ex-girlfriend had last been in contact yesterday, but there were no messages - he must have deleted them. And I think this exchange will have been key. I have wondered about confiscating his phone, but that would make him more isolated - and unable to contact me. Exchanges with girls definitely seem to make him feel worse. He couldn't say exactly this morning why he climbed outside and went off.
UPDATE: Just off the phone mid-message with the school counsellor. She has called the nursing team, and the consensus is that he needs a CAMHS referral. They are going to refer, and have asked me to call the GP and ask for a referral, to give it more clout. I asked if a lot of the boys have these problems and if they come out the other side. She said unfortunately it's quite common, but almost always among sixth form boys. I think DS's advanced physical development is a huge factor here.
Thank you again for all your support.
So glad that your poor DS will be getting some help.
I'm thinking pituitary/endocrine issue, even more so now you've said about bone development, plus you said he's quite hairy?
Yes paediatrician preferably paediatric endocrinologist.
Thats great that they are taking things seriously now. The waiting time to see CAMHS is likely to depend on urgency, so hopefully he won't have to wait the full 12 months and at least he's on the waiting list now. Hopefully the school councellor can help in the meantime.
Also its very rare DH will willingly go to A&E when he's poorly, (generally need police involvement to get him there) which seems a bit extreme in your sons case. Having said that in an emergency they can be very good on one occasion DH took an overdose and refused to go to A&E and walked off I called them and they searched for him and took him to A&E. My other emergency option if he won't go to A&E is to ask for a home visit from GP or through 111 if out of hours.
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