Answer by Dr. Julie Gurner:

Yes I have - it’s called passive suicide, and it is one of the most tragic things you can witness.
  • They stop engaging in things that have the potential to help them. Medical appointments/advice. Therapy appointments. While this usually starts by attending but not really participating, eventually they’ll just stop showing up at all. They won’t respond to calls. They won’t come back.

  • They stop caring - about everything. Their job, their relationships, their condition. They end up losing their job, their relationships leave them. They watch it all happen but feel they “deserve” it and it reinforces their sense of doom and lack of purpose in this world.

  • They actively engage in harmful things. Often, they intentionally do things that they know make their medical or mental health problems worse. An example? They have diabetes but stop monitoring and eating what they want, knowing it could kill or deteriorate them.

  • They don’t care about the risks or consequences anymore. They do things they know are not good for them in their own health or risk taking, because they don’t expect to live long enough for the consequences - or simply don’t care if they had those consequences. For some that might be unprotected sex or shared needles in drug use. For others that might look different.
I’ve had clients who have died this way…it’s no joke. Therapists have very little they can do. It’s not active suicide, and hospitals won’t usually admit them.

The number one factor in these cases is a “loss of hope” that things can be better.

If you know someone who fits this pattern and you love them, you are their best hope. Don’t let them push you away. Encourage them to get help and see that their life can be more than it is right now.

Truly giving up on life is one of the most tragic things you’ll ever witness…I wouldn’t wish it on anyone… I hope this answered your question.

Some hopeful articles: