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Thread: How best to deal with someone following a suicide attempt

  1. #1

    How best to deal with someone following a suicide attempt

    Recently, a 19-year old family friend moved in with us because of an intolerable family situation at home. She grew up down the street from us and she and my 18-year old daughter have been good friends off and on over the years. Last year, she supposedly fell in love with an older woman who initially seduced her against her wishes. The woman lives in another town and has basically pursued the relationship with her only when convenient. I figured it would end soon. The woman called it quits about 6 weeks ago, which sent our friend into a tailspin. I didn't realize how obsessed she was with this woman until she attempted to kill herself Monday. She drove to the junior high school where this woman teaches and swallowed a 1/2 bottle of Vicodin next to the woman's car just before classes let out. I think she intended for this woman to find her half dead when she came out and come to her rescue. Someone else found her and this woman remains absent from the hospital or anywhere else.

    Sorry for all the details, but I am uncertain whether to take this girl back into my home. I have a 12-year old son and a 5-year old daughter. My oldest is off to college. I don't feel that the kids are in danger from her, but I didn't dream she would committ suicide over this woman, either. I'm sure she will continue in counseling, and she has nowhere else to go. Her mother is a very destructive person, and I think she is drinking and abusing drugs. Her father died several years ago. The extended family is a mess. If I don't take her back, I am afraid of what she might do to herself. Emotionally, I think she has a need to control something/someone in her life. Her mother is a very controlling person.
    The psychologist is no help because he doesn't feel he knows her well enough to give an opinion. I'm just looking for some feedback as to what warning signs to look for to determine if she might harm anyone in my home. Also, what ground rules would you suggest I lay down if I do decide to take her back? Any help, please?

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  3. #2

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    I don't feel that the kids are in danger from her,

    She needs help and probably more than you can give her. Sounds to me though your responsabilities are to your own children and you need to think how her sharing a home with you is going to effect them. You can be supportive without bringing her back into your home.

    How has this already effected your children? Do they know about the suicide attempt?

    I believe in helping people and this may be a fear you havent voiced but I gotta say I think I might be worried if I let her bakc intio my home and she gets depressed again that she might make another attempt at my home, and it might be my kids that find her this time.

    Does that sound cruel? I think you can help her and not put your kids thru anymore trauma though.

  4. #3

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    You're right, my main fear is that my kids might find her. I'm also concerned about her pursuing the whole lesbian thing. I think she's doing it out of some destructive impulse. Today she was transferred to a psychiatric institution for a 72-hour observation. She will probably be released within the next three days. She literally has nowhere else to go. I was just going through some of her personal papers and came across a letter she wrote to a friend about wanting to be an important part of a family unit. She has expressed numerous times in the past how much she likes living here, but, like you, I realize she needs a lot more help than I can give her.

    But I know the system, they won't institutionalize her, they'll just put her right back on the street. I do worry about her transferring some of her obsessive behavior to my 5-year old daughter. She has been very close to her and is very good with her. But in this latest cycle, she has been somewhat hostile and grumpy with the kids when they make too much noise or otherwise bug her. I wish there was a place she could stay that would offer help. I know I'm going to feel compelled to take her back. Maybe I could try laying down some more ground rules, I don't know.

  5. #4

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    I'm also concerned about her pursuing the whole lesbian thing. I think she's doing it out of some destructive impulse.
    There are so many other ways to be destructive I doubt forcing yourself to be attracted to a gender you normally wouldn't be would be the road someone would go down.

    She very well could be a lesbian this may be in fact part of the stress she is feeling.


    Today she was transferred to a psychiatric institution for a 72-hour observation
    Have you spoken to anyone there? If she does get out in 72 hours is there a doctor you could speak with who could speak with her and perhaps help you make a decision?

    Your in a really bad spot. I can't imagine what I would do in your place :)

  6. #5

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    It is indeed a dilemma because as you say she has no one else right now but you and your family. However, you asked about conditions and I think under the circumstances you certainly have a right and probably a duty to tell her that you do have limits and boundaries and expectations of her if she is to continue to live there.

    You might think about these as starting points:

    1. that she continue following all recommendations regarding medications and psychotherapy appointments

    2. that she give authorization for you to have some ongoing communication with her therapist, not about every detail of their sessions but to allow you to get feedback on how you can help her as well as protect your children

    3. that she understand that as much as you wish to help her your first duty is to protect your younger children -- she is an adult and free to make her own choices; they are children and impressionable and in need of your protection and guidance -- therefore, if her behavior in the home shows any signs of damaging your children, that will take precedence over any responsibility you feel toward her.

    Basically, the conditions are that she (1) help herself and (2) be aware that her actions do impact on you and your family and that you cannot permit that influence to be a destructive one. She needs to accept/understand that if she cannot do this, her continued presence in your home is not going to be very helpful to her and it could well be harmful for you and your children.

  7. #6

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    Thank you for your help. What do you think about requiring her to fill her time with more constructive things? The last month or so she has spent a lot of time on her computer IM'ing with people or just staring at a blank screen. She rarely left the house. I think she might benefit from a job where she is around more people, but if you're depressed would this just add to your stress level? I need to also give her more responsibilities around the house, but maybe I should let her choose. She seems to crave to have power and control in her life, and seems to have some jealousy issues towards people who have happy families and relationships. She is very good at working with autistic and retarded children, but lost one such job because she couldn't get the time and date right. Her thinking is somewhat clouded lately, I suppose due to the depression. I guess my question is really how much pressure should I exert right now? Should I just concentrate on getting her to do fun things? Is the pressure of a job too much? How best should I talk to her about the suicide attempt? How best do I deal with her when she is in a withdrawn, sulky mood? Do I force her to talk? Do I force a confrontation? Is that better than leaving her alone with her feelings?

  8. #7

    suicide attempt - how best to deal with her

    Quote Originally Posted by jacie
    What do you think about requiring her to fill her time with more constructive things? The last month or so she has spent a lot of time on her computer IM'ing with people or just staring at a blank screen. She rarely left the house. I think she might benefit from a job where she is around more people, but if you're depressed would this just add to your stress level?
    Yes it would likely add to her stress. What she needs now is limits, boundaries, and a certain "structure" (e.g., appointments with her doctors) but not "presure" per se. If you can encourage her to come and spend time with you rather than alone, that may help but don't react negatively or get discouraged if she declines. She may well be interacting with people on the internet through MSN Messenger, etc., because right now that feels safer...

    I need to also give her more responsibilities around the house, but maybe I should let her choose. She seems to crave to have power and control in her life, and seems to have some jealousy issues towards people who have happy families and relationships.
    Letting her choose is a good approach -- ask her to help out but again remember that her energy level and stamina and motivation right now will be pretty low -- don't take it personally if she fails to do the task she has chosen or you have assigned her -- just continue to encourage without nagging or scolding.

    She is very good at working with autistic and retarded children, but lost one such job because she couldn't get the time and date right. Her thinking is somewhat clouded lately, I suppose due to the depression. I guess my question is really how much pressure should I exert right now? Should I just concentrate on getting her to do fun things? Is the pressure of a job too much? How best should I talk to her about the suicide attempt? How best do I deal with her when she is in a withdrawn, sulky mood? Do I force her to talk? Do I force a confrontation? Is that better than leaving her alone with her feelings?
    Trying to pressure her or to force her to talk will not work. Try to use encouragement rather than pressure -- letting her know that you are there to do whatever you can to help her when or if she is ready is a lot more helpful than putting any kind of pressure on her -- that would simply be overwhelming right now.

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