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  1. #1

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    A good friend of mine is in a bad place. Within a span of 2 weeks, someone he knows at work committed suicide, and another friend attempted suicide. My friend, who already has depression, is trying to cope. He feels a bit responsible, only because the person who attempted was his friend.

    I've told him that he wasn't responsible, and he's doing everything he can to help his friend. He, my friend, has been telling me how he's been feeling and is now feeling guilty for being so 'down', and dragging me with him. I told him he can talk to me any time, and say anything he wants to say. He knows I'm there for him, and that it's ok for him to tell me how bad he feels, but no matter what I tell him, he can't seem to stop feeling guilty.

    Now it's at the point where I don't know what to say any more. Seems like I can't help him feel better, about anything. I'm the only one he feels 'safe' enough to talk to. He's asking me to help him, but I don't know how. :o(

  2. #2

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    I've told him that he wasn't responsible, and he's doing everything he can to help his friend. He, my friend, has been telling me how he's been feeling and is now feeling guilty for being so 'down', and dragging me with him. I told him he can talk to me any time, and say anything he wants to say. He knows I'm there for him, and that it's ok for him to tell me how bad he feels, but no matter what I tell him, he can't seem to stop feeling guilty.
    This is sometimes the primary benefit of going to talk to a therapist, not matter how supportive your friends and family are.

    The difference is that with a professional therapist, the individual doesn't have to worry at all about "dragging him or her down", "burdening him/her", "worrying him/her", etc. He also wouldn't have to worry about whether you or other people would think negatively about him for grieving or feeling depressed. The freedom one feels when being able to be completely open and honest, whether you're undburdening yourself or just venting, is quite amazing.

  3. #3

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    I think you've pretty much done most of what you can do. You've listened and you're willing to continue to do so. That's what counts the most in a friendship if someone else is just willing to sit there and listen. So it's ok if you don't know what to say anymore. You can't change the way your friend feels about everything that happened so you're right in that no matter what you tell him it won't change his feelings. This is something he needs to work on himself, hence, David's suggestions makes a lot of sense. You can be a supportive friend and be empathetic, but you can't take on his burden as he can't take on his friend's burden.

    It's good that he feels safe talking to you. Maybe you can go with him when he goes to talk to someone about this for the first time?

  4. #4

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    Thank you both for your suggestion. I have told him to talk to a professional, so I'll have to wait and see what happens. If I can figure out what he can do at night when the bad feelings are the most intense, that would be real good.

  5. #5

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    hey. I had this huge response typed out and then the internet crashed. argh. anyways, basically I was saying that maybe you could provide him w/ specific resources, such as #'s for clinics, psychologists, other mental health workers etc. This will show him you care (which you obviously do) and give him that extra push and bring him that much closer to reaching out for professional help. Often, people have a difficult time actually going out there and finding the information that they need. He could also chose to contact one of the above without you knowing, thus if he wants your help he can tell you and if he'd rather do so by himself he knows you're ok w/ it and he has #'s to call.

    Also, keep in mind what your job is as a friend and what the boundaries are. ie. you can be there for him by listening to him and trying to keep him distracted (ie. going to movies, dinner, out to watch a game) but you can only do so much, right? You can't be there for him 24/7, you can't make him be happy and that's not your job. If he is at a place where you are worried about his safety or he is acting really lethargic etc. make use of the resources that are available out there yourself to get him in the care of someone who is trained to deal w/ this. David has a post about suicide resources/hotlines which may give you some websites that also contain info about depression and how to deal w/ it, symptoms etc. Just make sure that you stay healthy through all of this too, b/c in the end it will be of no help to your friend if you end up feeling guilty about your friend being depressed and you not being able to help (this will just be a cycle of people feeling guilty about other people which will be of no use).

    It sounds like you are doing a good job of being there for your friend (you said he trusts you and tells you things and you know he's "bad" at night). Keep on doing what you're doing, that's the best you can do. Don't give up. If you're consistant w/ your help, and non judgmental and willing to listen he will appreciate it more than you might even know. Good luck.

  6. #6

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    Great ideas Eunoia. Sorry about your computer crashing on you. That sux.

    I didn't think of all that (resources, boundaries, etc.). You've given some things to think about. A problem, though, is that my friend lives very far away. 3 hours behind me. So there's no way I can be there for him physically. When he needs me the most (at night), I'm asleep. We talk on the phone, IM or email. I guess the boundaries can apply while we talk. I'll certainly talk to him about getting some numbers in case of a crisis.

    Thanks for letting me know that I'm on the right track, even if I can't get him out of his depression.

  7. #7

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    hey I just saw your reply. funny thing is one of my best friends lives 3 hours ahead of me. lol. we just try to be there for each other by email, IM, and phone. There's only so much you can do as you said if you're not physically there w/ the person, but it doesn't mean there's nothing that can be done. There's plenty you can do in terms of just making an effort to stay in touch via the above. I think as weird as it is sometimes, it's almost easier for me to tell my friend things b/c I know she cares but she's 3 hrs away, so it's "safer" in a weird way. I know I can trust her from previous history when she was here, but I don't have to worry about her worring about me 24/7 when she's around me b/c she's not. or how she or I will react when we see each other the next day etc. does that make any sense?

    the internet is a wonderful thing (or can be) so you can probably still try to find contact info for places for him to go to/people to see even long distance. also, think of some nation wide, country-wide organizations that provide mental health help and information, they may have an office where he lives (assuming he lives in a bigger city)... if not I'm sure David could help you out w/ some contact info... he's good at finding those. I think your friend should look into some resources for a crisis but also just for now, to get things started so that it doesn't lead to a crisis. ie. why wait to fix a problem when it's really bad if you can start working on it now if you have the resources to do so??

    I think it's his struggle to deal w/ his depression and feelings and I just wanted to make sure that you know you're not responsible for his well being in the sense that it's up to you to fix it (and you can't) but you are a great support while he's going through all of that....

  8. #8

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    Thanks Eunoia. Intellectually, I know I'm not responsible for my friend's depression. I can't seem to separate that fact from feeling that I need to be there for him when he's asking me for help.

    I'm sure there's lots of resources where he is. It's a matter of whether he'll use them or not. He's very self-conscious, so I dunno.

    You've been very helpful. Thank you.

  9. #9

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    Just heard today that my friend's friend tried to kill herself - again. My friend is frustrated because he doesn't know how to help her. Said it looks like she really doesn't want to live. Is it ever ok to 'give' up on someone to keep yourself from getting to be so down and safe?

  10. #10

    Don't know what to do, what to say.

    hey. sorry to hear about your friend's friend again and you having to worry about your friend as a consequence. It's really really difficult to deal w/ someone who genuinely does not want to live or is consistantly depressed/sucicidal... but in a way, even though it's exhausting and draining on you and your friend, think of what you would want people to do if that were you... somewhere deep down your friend's friend probably does want to live, but the point is you want people to care about you, right? wouldn't you want people to do everything in their power to help you? even if you didn't want that help? but isn't that what friends are for? I'm not saying it's your responsibility or your friend's responsibility to save everyone out there... but I do think as a friend you just have to try whatever is in your power to help someone especially if they are suicidal. Your friend should take her to a hospital if she is very suicidal which it sounds like she is b/c she tried to comitt suicide again or get her to at least go talk to someone about this. is she seeing anyone? does she have a therapist? does her family know and other close friends? who has tried to help her so far and how???

    I think that it's not really that it's ok to "give up" on someone, but it's more figuring out your responsibility as a friend and figuring out what it is that you have to do to keep yourself safe and sane and with that comes being emotionally and mentally stable. If you mean safe as in that your friend feels suicidal as a result of this then no, he is in no position to help his friend. Your friend can bring his friend to a counselor but he can't fix her or her problems. Neither can you.

    I was in this situation once w/ an anorexic friend who I tried to help for years...literally, and I talked to everyone that I could think of, people who were trained to help and just other people... friends, counselors, teachers... and no matter what I did it didn't help, which made me feel useless and it was VERY very hard to see her waste away. But I didn't understand that no matter what I did it was HER that had to take that step and say, ok, I am going to get help and I am going to make a change. She wouldn't even admit to me that she had a problem! All of that definitey did not put me in a state of mind where I was ok, and I saw others who knew and did nothing...which made no sense to me. So I guess what I'm saying is I think part of being a friend is to be there for friends but you can't do that completely at your own expense.

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