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support thread for parents of suicidal teens/children

(42 Posts)
cory Wed 23-Jan-13 13:37:52

Thought we might need our own thread for hand-holding, all those of us whose teens threaten suicide or have attempted suicide or for those who have lost a child to suicide.

It seems to me that there is so much misunderstanding amongst unaffected people about what it's like to live with this situation: they don't get how it's never ending, how you get worn out, desensitized, how life has to go on.

Dd made her second attempt last week. Totally on an impulse, I was detained at the dentist's and she wasn't ready when her taxi driver knocked on the door, so she took an overdose to make the knocking stop.

The first time she jumped out of a window one afternoon and her little brother came home and found her. Again, totally unexpected, she suddenly felt overwhelmed and felt she couldn't cope.

After the first attempt, I was kind of able to talk myself into believing that it was a one off, she felt so bad about upsetting her brother, now she knows what it's really like she won't do it again. She said so herself.

Now I know I will have to live with this fear. If that feeling takes her again, then any thoughts of family or friends will not be able to get through that fog. I am frightened and angry and very, very tired. CAHMS tell me to show her my feelings; I have good reason to fear that showing anger may tip her into more anxiety, making life more risky.

cory Wed 23-Jan-13 13:38:53

sorry, posted too soon.

Meant to add, I know there are other MNers out there in the same situation. Perhaps we can support each other and share ideas of how to get through.

Candyflops Wed 23-Jan-13 14:00:45

Cory I do not have teens (yet) but a sibling who has made many attempts over the last 20 years or so. We were both teens when it first happened so I guess I am sort of qualified for this thread (lighthearted) smile

I can only imagine what it must feel like as a parent - my heart goes out to all.

Relating to some of your points on another thread that got deleted I too have made huge sacrifices in being there on false alarms. But, I can also say there are definately times when I know I have helped, and intervened. I guess those are the times that pull you through. I later ended up working in MH and learnt some suicide intervention skills which helped massively in some ways (although added another layer of complexity in others though). I have since given up the work - another sacrifice, but would recommend the training.

Candyflops Wed 23-Jan-13 14:08:00

Also, some places have survivors of suicide groups, do you know if there is one near you in RL? Carer support too, has been great for me in the past (though bloody budget cuts, not so accessible now).

Candyflops Wed 23-Jan-13 16:13:36

Sorry Cory, somehow I missed that the 2nd attempt was only last week. It is all really fresh for you. I am in a different place to you but still found the deleted thread very evocative. These things always bring lots of things up in lots of different ways. I hope my posts haven't been insensitive. My sibling's position is very rare - huge trust issues (from sexual abuse and subsequent failures in the system) now diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Everyone's experience with suicidal thoughts are different. Maybe your dd's experience this most recent time has scared her enough to change the way she will think in the future? It's possible. You say she felt bad about upsetting her brother, and she has said she won't do it again. But you still have this fear which is understandable. Her saying what she has is positive, it is often thoughts like that which do help people get through the fog and can literally be a lifeline. It is good she has verbalised that.

You feel frightened, angry and tired. All understandable too and I agree the anger is a tricky one. I guess it is how is is expressed that will matter, I hope you find some ways to help you through this, getting support for you is important too.

cory Wed 23-Jan-13 19:49:13

thanks for your supportive posts, Candyflops and really sorry to hear about your sibling. That must have been very difficult for you growing up- and I suppose something like what my ds must be going through. How is your sibling doing as an adult and how are you about it today?

I know you are right about the times of intervention not being wasted. Support groups are a good idea: I'll look into what there is locally.

I'd feel better about what she said if she hadn't said exactly the same thing last time- that's when she said about little brother- and it still wasn't enough to keep her safe. I suppose I am really disappointed because I had pinned my hopes on that last time, perhaps more than I should have done.

mermaidbutmytailfelloff Wed 23-Jan-13 20:08:10

Cory - I didn't realise it was so recent! It is so so awful. This thread is a good idea because when it happens you feel like you are the only one in the world.

My ds2 was suicidal last year. He is 16, loads of friends, clever, sporty, good looking.....yet he self harmed and tried several times to hang himself.
He has been helped a lot by CAMHS who have supported us too as a family. He still has bad days, still takes A/Ds and sleeping pills. Still sees camhs once a week - but that is progress it was twice!

I understand the tired, because you never switch off.....and the fear.....and the what ifs and if onlys. How can my child who I would do anything for not want to live?

Candyflops Wed 23-Jan-13 20:38:25

Cory, I thought she was saying after this time that she wouldn't do it again. It is so hard. How is she now? Is she able to talk about things? Does her CAMHS team allow her to talk through it? Or do they try to move her on quickly? There are different approaches to intervention in different areas, something I found quite hard to deal with when I developed more of a professional view towards treatment. I fear there can be a lot of fobbing off and excuses made in the name of service users "taking responsibility".

My sibling is doing so much better now that the right meds have been found (a long time spent on wrong meds). But similar to your DD, the attempts are usually very impulsive, rather than planned, which makes it so very much harder to help. But usually there are some signs, and I am more proficient at spotting when to explore more deeply what is going on, and also, when not to. I've accepted it is possible to get it wrong, and one day the worst may well happen, but I honestly don't think there is anything more I can do. I have learned (the hard way of course) to be a lot kinder to myself, knowing that actually, sometimes there is absolutely nothing I can do, other than to care, be forgiving and do my best. Not only to be there to support, but to keep the wheels turning. So easy to say......

Yours and other's points on the other thread were so valid around this, they really do deserve space to be heard.

The first few days/week after an attempt are the worst. That is for sure. That's when you need lots of support.

Candyflops Wed 23-Jan-13 20:52:53

Mermaid, how tough sad. You have to be so careful not to get burnt out (failure here at that!). It's great to hear CAMHS supporting you as a family - so much more forward thinking than in a lot of places.

TinkBelle Thu 24-Jan-13 08:08:33

Cory - my heart goes out to you as my position is very similar. I specifically joined mumsnet today to see if I could find anyone going through a similar experience. My dd has a history of mental health issues, anorexia, depression and self harm and has been hospitalised several times. The self harm is with suicidal intent and although the medics (and I) believe that she doesn't actually want to kill herself the fear is that she will succeed accidentally as she will cut too deep one day or take too many pills. I have some relief at the moment as she is in hospital but that relief highlights the stress of the past three years. It is never ending. She has also just had a diagnosis of high functioning ASD - don't know how this will impact on the mix ... I don't need solutions or advice but just to know that someone else out there knows what it is like makes it feel a little easier to bear. I hope your d is calmer, it is so hard when we see our hope shattered again and so hard to know that they are going through so much trauma that we cannot make better for them. Take care of you.

cory Thu 24-Jan-13 09:44:14

Sorry to hear about your dd, TinkBelle; that sounds so hard sad. Anorexia is such a horrible, horrible thing. My cousin's family went through that for years and though there was a good outcome and their dd has come through it all, it was such a strain on them.

ASD must make it harder for both you and her, though hopefully with the diagnosis you will be able to find people with the relevant experience who can share ideas with you.

How is your dd now? Do you know if she is likely to be in hospital long?

I know what you mean about that fear of succeeding accidentally. I feel fairly sure that dd has never intended to leave life as such- both her attempts have been impulse ones- but it is such dangerous behaviour. On both occasions, things could so easily have gone wrong.

Dd is home and (supposedly) attending school, but is a little up and down. She has a big event to go to on Friday, which she has been looking forward to, but also a bad back and an exam which she is likely to fail. I am debating whether to leave her for a few hours to go to a meeting is a good idea: I will have to leave her for longer stretches next week, so maybe a short build-up is good, then again maybe it is too soon... It's these constant decisions, isn't it?

cory Thu 24-Jan-13 09:47:55

mermaid, glad to hear that your ds was helped by CAHMS.

I think they are helping dd too- she has been seeing them for a couple of years, and it has helped; she thinks so too. It's just that it is inevitably a long haul and nasty things can happen in the meantime.

TinkBelle Thu 24-Jan-13 12:21:21

Cory, I hope you feel you made the right decision re meeting and that if you went dd was fine at home. As you say, it's the constant decisions, the weighing up of the "what ifs" when we want to do something that will take us away and the constant level of vigilance that we are in, consciously or unconsciously. I hope too that she gets to her big event on Friday - though this can add its own stresses to an already anxious teenage mind. Exams can be done in the future - I have told my ds to take that one off his list of worries as he struggles to take on board the topsy turvy nature of our existence and do important exams!

Dd is calmer but simmering and has self harmed in hospital recently. She is so fearful of her inability to overcome the urge to harm, it is very distressing for her and for me to see her so fearful. Thankfully her eating is not a significant issue at present, her weight has been acceptably stable for a couple of months now which is a plus! The thinking is still there, ie, I am fat, but she is compliant with her diet - phew! Not sure how much longer in hospital, hopefully no more than another 6-8 weeks.

HoneyFi Thu 24-Jan-13 20:06:37

I joined Mumsnet today - to see if anyone else is going through similar to us. My Dd is 13 - she took an overdose a year ago, and had been self harming for a while before that, having been bullied at school, volatile friendships and facebook issues.
CAHMs did help for a while but it was a bit disjointed and Dd became disillusioned and refused to go. She seemed to have sorted many of her issues out herself and seemed happier. She wasn't obviously self harming and stupidly I thought our nightmare of 2012 had ended with the close of the year. Until this week, when the black cloud has well and truly descended. It has been building up, but I wasn't reading the signs - head in the sand syndrome maybe. I feel utterly helpless this time. Friends have opinions without having been there themselves so it has been easier not to involve others, but its a slog!

Brightspark1 Thu 24-Jan-13 21:43:20

cory I do so feel for you, the feelings you have when your dc attempts suicide are so difficult to handle. I wish this thread had been around ( and I wish I had discovered MN) when DD made a serious attempt. She was an inpatient on an adolescent unit at the time, her time there made a bad situation infinitely worse. Her self harming escalated, so did her behaviour towards us when she came home on leave. I picked her up from the ward for an overnight stay at home and stopped off at the shops to but her a cardigan as all her clothing was chewed to bits. She gave me the slip and ran off. I searched for a long time but couldn't find her. She had jumped on a train to the seaside, sat under a pier and cut her arms to bits and washed 40 paracetamol down with vodka. Thankfully she was found by the police in time and after a spell in the hospital she returned to the ward. All the staff there, nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists hadn't seen it coming - so how could we?
I'm posting because it still haunts me 18 months later, I still have nightmares. But I'm also posting because there is light at the end of the tunnel, she rarely self harms now, she is working hard at college, discharged from CAMHS and now sees herself as someone with a future. Things are still difficult but are so much better than they were. Please try to keep hoping.

TinkBelle Fri 25-Jan-13 08:06:51

HoneyFi, looks like we came to mumsnet on the same day looking for the same thing - people who have been there and can fully empathise with what you are going through. Friends with opinions are not always the most supportive although I find that generally they do mean well and just aren't very self aware of how things come across, especially when you are feeling vulnerable. I do understand that feeling of helplessness, it does not matter how much we want our child to be well if they can't/won't/are unable to access the small amount of support that being at home in the community can offer. Resources for CAMHS are so limited and under constant threat so knowing who to turn to and how to help can just leave a sense of despair. Brightspark1, it was therefore REALLY encouraging to hear your story of your dd and where she has brought herself to, that gives me a little hope at a very dark time. We are going in to the hospital today to start the process of discussing supported living for our dd as the hospital are not confident that her risk is manageable at home - sadly, we have begun to think they might be right ... but, I still have the hope that if dd knows the alternative, she might just be able to better battle her demons, or maybe I am clutching at straws?

murlo Fri 25-Jan-13 17:36:49

I joined mumsnet today because I saw this thread. I don't have any children (am only 20) but was very depressed, had anxiety and self-harmed as a teenager (between about 13 and 16). Now I'm older although I know none of those feelings were my fault I still feel bad for what I put my Mum through. sad You guys are really strong and brave for coping with this and I admire you a lot for it, the same as I admire my Mum.

Keep it up, it can get better for all of you, I'm now out the other end and of course I still have bad days but so does everyone, just be encouraged that someday your sons/daughters/siblings can be okay. smile

Snapespeare Fri 25-Jan-13 20:15:01

I just wanted to post because my lovely DS1 (14) is going through a severe depression at the moment, brought on, i think by a mugging incident in 2010, but exacerbated by homophobic bullying at school. Be stopped going to school after October half term, has threatened suicide a number of times, but has never actually attempted, is despondent, anxious, upset, has developed a loathing of his smaller brother (13). When he first told me, through floods of tears that he didn't want to live anymore, it felt like I had started to freeze, from the pit of m stomach out wards; my beautiful, talented boy has come to the understanding that he just doesn't want to be here anymore.

The GP got an almost immediate referral to CAHMS. I'm not sure how much use it will be. The counsellor seems to have already drawn his conclusions after two hour long sessions, which has culminated in an hour long telephone conversation with him talking down at me, questioning my parenting and stressing how important he is (we missed an early morning session as i couldn't persuade DS1 out of bed, he was too low). I feel very unsupported by everyone at the moment, so really am just saying hi, place making to an extent and hoping for some support/advice as we journey through...and hope to be able to give the same on due course.

cory Fri 25-Jan-13 20:53:01

<pops in and waves to everybody>

I am sorry that you are so unsupported, Snapespeare. The counsellor doesn't really sound as if he is helping at all. Dd's counsellor is totally different, very supportive and would understand if she was too unwell to make it. She talks things through with us rather than at us. Can you request a different counsellor? (I did once when I was having counselling at work and thought the first counsellor they offered was just too wet- I didn't need somebody who got tearful over my problems because I could do that perfectly well myself).

Thank you Brightspark and murlo for that glimpse of light through the tunnel smile. That's what we need to hang onto!

HoneyFi, sorry to hear that you have hit a black patch. It's so hard, isn't it when you thought you were out of the woods and then suddenly you're not.

How did your appointment go, TinkBelle? Were they able to come up with anything that seemed workable?

We've had a good day. My own hospital appointment (which I was dreading) went very quickly, I got home in good time to see dd off to school (which is the potential trigger point), she went in and sat her exam which she is confident she has failed (answered 2 questions and spelled her name wrong, apparently wink) and coped with that emotionally, so that is very good (she struggles with failure). Has now gone off to her awards ceremony looking totally glam in a new dress.

But that is the problem with dd: she is either coping brilliantly or not at all. She will play the lead in front of lots of people with a badly injured knee, but will try to kill herself over a knock on the door. She said herself to the CAHMS team "I don't do middle ground". Life is a constant set of ups and downs. It's exhausting.

TinkBelle Sat 26-Jan-13 08:41:40

Murlo, thank you for posting and for your words of encouragement. I am so pleased to hear that you have come through such a tough time, and more importantly that you know you are not to blame.

Snapespeare, I agree with cory, it is worth requesting another counsellor who at least shows some empathy for your ds - & yourself. That may mean a further wait, but you need someone who can support you, not lecture you. Your parenting skills are not at fault here, that is a very archaic view of child/adolescent mental health issues and needs to be vigorously stamped upon.

Cory, glad your day went well & dd went off looking beautiful and i hope she managed to have a great evening. I recognise her "no middle ground" statement, that is what makes it so exhausting as there is no warning when it will go from calm to full blown. The doc didn't make our meeting yesterday so we have not dipped a toe in that conversation that I really don't want to have re supported living ...

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 10:23:30

What would supported living actually mean, TinkBelle? is it some kind of residential set-up?

Snapespeare Sat 26-Jan-13 10:45:18

Thank you for being so welcoming. We're actually having a lovely morning. The other two are asleep at the moment, we've arranged to go and see Les Mis together on Tuesday and at the moment he's agreeing to go to school on Monday for the afternoon while I wait in the car outside (my! That will be fun! hmm I've tried the 'we all have to do things we don't want to do' tactic. I'm now trying 'we're a team. I'll take the day off of work and wait outside' tactic. This is actually lovely, far better than the rage and despair.

He's a strange child. I mean that with the best love. Have always thought he is borderline aspergic. He skips in public, his voice is never regulated. He finds it hard to make friends (doesn't like football, has been brought up in a vehemently feminist household, isn't mainstream, which I love about him so very much!) it's a difficult age anyway, 14 - when you're not really a child, but you're not a man and you're trying to find out who you are.

The CAHMS counsellor. I phoned on the morning of the appointment and left a message apologising. Three days later I got a letter asking where we had been, I phoned and left a message that I had left a message (...) and to rearrange the appointment. Phoned again the day after to find counsellor had gone home due to snow. Phoned again after the weekend. Phoned again on wednesday. answerphone. Call was eventually returned yesterday while I was at work, no asking if it was Ok to speak, just launched into criticism that we hadn't attended the appointment, really patronising 'do you understand what an inverted hierarchy is' hmm (yes, I do. Thank you) suggesting counselling won't work because DS1 'calls the shots' and the counsellor 'won't be complicit' in this. Told him, hold on, you've met us twice what does he expect me to do, haul someone bigger than me out of bed, shove him in the car and physically make him attend?

Gah! Thank you for letting me get this out of my system you lot. I do appreciate a safe place to rant share this. smile

Spid Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:45

I'm so glad I've found this thread - my DD2 has been self harming (cutting) for the last year and last week attempted to take an overdose , she was stopped by her fried. I feel completely adrift. She is under CAMHS, sees a councillor weekly and has just been told by her dr to take St John's Wort. She is 16, A very bright, vibrant, creative individual but also quite tortured in her head. She gets help. But what do I do with the feelings I have? Every time the phone rings I jump, when I wake her up I'm petrified that she won't actually be alive any more, I want to pull her close and never let her go, I want to take all her pain away, and yet that isn't my role. So how do hubby and I cope? Who helps us?

murlo Sat 26-Jan-13 13:34:43

Snapespeare, I would recommend getting a different counsellor. I've found that the ones who are harsh with my parents feel like they're just doing a job to pay bills when I speak to them, whereas the ones that tried to understand my parents situation actually felt like they were listening to me and talking to me rather than at me.

Snapespeare Sat 26-Jan-13 13:38:31

Thank you murlo. I just feel we're being pigeon-holed before we've properly begun, he's applying a clinical model based on two hours of interaction with my son. I will give it another shot this week and if it doesn't improve, will request a different counsellor.

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