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patg7590's avatar

What to do about a good friend that is a repeat suicide risk?

Asked by patg7590 (4608points) May 19th, 2010

I have a good friend who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is also a struggling alcoholic. He has attempted suicide in the past and has also been hospitalized. His new love interest is anti drinking and as a result of him drinking she is shunning him. He is in a downward spiral right now and keeps making hints through ims and tweets about killing himself. Someone reported him earlier and a state trooper came to his house. The hints keep coming. What can I do?

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46 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Take your friend (physically take him) to a doctor or a therapist.

MissA's avatar

He’s telling you…dropping hints, because he wants help.

Intervene. Perhaps get his love interest to cooperate.

My best to you for caring.

Tobotron's avatar

I know there is a LOT of popularity in labelling people as bi-polar when there probably not, especially in the US…it must just be depression?!

But Im not good at understanding these emotions, I think you need to find the root of the problem, and to do that you have to say un-popular things, I guess your the best judge of his personality, does he need talking straight to or is he more complex than that?

I found myself in Siberia, maybe if he can, his wife can afford him a walk about of his own? Cheaper and more rewarding than buzz therapy, half of them only took a night course for 2 weeks in it!

poofandmook's avatar

if you really think he is going to harm himself, you need to send the police to his home. Not you go get him and take him to the hospital. If you take him, he can run and not get the help he needs. The police need to bring him in as a potential suicide risk, and he needs to be evaluated by a mental health screener.

It sounds harsh, but I worked on the “suicide watch” unit for 2½ years, and my dad is a MH screener and psychiatric RN. I know how the system works. The police really do need to be involved for anything to be really taken seriously, and so your friend can’t back out.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

My best friend killed himself five months and two days ago. He was heavily intoxicated at the time, on both alcohol and pot. Like your friend, he was a struggling alcoholic who, toward the end, frequently self-medicated.

Is there any way that you can, as @marinelife suggested, get him to a doctor? And until you’re able to do that, can you spend as much time with him as possible? My best friend killed himself when he had company, which is why I can not accurately convey how extremely important it is for someone to constantly be around him right now.

Please do whatever you have to… I do not want to see someone else go through what I did. Please.

RedPowerLady's avatar

You have to understand that this situation is out of your control. You are not responsible for what this friend does or does not do. In most cases of actual suicide there were people trying to stop the person and studies have shown that this is not usually effective. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try but it does mean that even if you care and try don’t hold it against yourself if things turn out poorly (and I hope they do not).

Also please note that while your friend suggesting suicide does mean he is at higher risk, talking about it with him will not put him at higher risk. It is okay to talk about it.

To get this person out of their suicidal thinking a change in his life needs to happen. His life circumstances need a big change. If you can help facilitate that then great. A lot of the time this is only possible in baby steps and sometimes those steps sadly don’t happen quick enough.

You can also encourage your friend to go to therapy where they can create a suicide contract with him. Those are not entirely effective but have been shown to be helpful and in fact many suicidal people do follow them. This will also give your friend an additional support.

I would also say “Tell Someone” but it seems as if others know. You may want to keep making sure they know.

In the meantime let your friend know you care and are there for him. Let him know he is important in your life. And access your own support system!

You may want to access some greater help: 1–800-273–8255 (suicide hotline).

Hugs and sending good vibes to both you and your friend.

patg7590's avatar

I’m driving and haven’t read the responses yet, but to update he just left a facebook status of “goodbye” and deleted his facebook. He’s turned off his phone and is driving to class afaik. I called a pastor who called his mom. She said she’s “aware of the situation”. Still freakin out.

poofandmook's avatar

You need to call the police NOW.

patg7590's avatar

@poofandmonk earlier when I called the police they said they were “really swamped” or something to that effect. They needed an exact address to do anything. He’s driving now. I don’t think they’ll help.

Tobotron's avatar

how many times has this happened in the past? could it not just be a stunt for attention?! I know I sound like a terrible person saying it but cover all angles but your instincts cover first!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Please call the police. NOW. Please. Give them his license plate and description of the car! Please do something.

Someone message me if this ends well, I can’t be in this thread anymore.

poofandmook's avatar

@patg7590: Okay, this is what I would do. I would call them back, and get the name of the person that says that. That way, if your friend unfortunately succeeds, his family has someone to sue for the funeral costs.

It has to be them. Local police, state troopers… it has to be them right now. None of you people close to him can do anything for him, as much as it sucks to hear.

patg7590's avatar

911 called his school and apprently he is there so they said “he’s ok” and that was that. However just because he’s safe in class now doesn’t mean he won’t try anything later tonight or something. Why does 911 only care if he has a weapon in hand? I don’t know what to do.

missingbite's avatar

You or his mother needs to get an interventionist in the picture pronto. He needs rehab for his alcohol and pot addiction. Unmedicated people are less likely to attempt suicide than someone not in their right mind. Good luck and God bless.

911 can only calm a situation. They can’t watch him after they know is OK at the moment. They are not babysitters or rehab clinics. The police have to move on to the next problem once they can determine there is no immediate threat. Two hours later is not their problem. Sounds harsh but that’s the way it works.

poofandmook's avatar

@patg7590: I can’t believe this… where the hell do you live? You tell them that you know him, he has a history of attempts, and if they aren’t going to take him seriously, you are going to make sure that someone there is held accountable if he hurts himself. Go as high as you have to. Talk to the damned commissioner if it has to go that high. Get him help.

Try calling the local hospital also, and speaking to their psychiatric emergency service. They may be able to work with the authorities, and the authorities will listen to them more than you. They may be able to send a screener with an officer as well.

Hell, give me information and I’ll make the damned calls.

poofandmook's avatar

Seriously, most of you need to stop posting. If you have anything to say other than what I have said, you don’t know what you’re talking about and you need to just stop. That sounds pompous but unless you’ve been in that situation, you have NO IDEA. I have worked in it, I have BEEN that person attempting it. @DrasticDreamer just went through it, and what did she post? The same thing I did.

Tobotron's avatar

you have to do what’s unpopular and meet him tomorrow (he won’t do anything tonight if he was he wouldn’t have gone to class) maybe the threats are a test for attention, if he got none maybe next time he would really go for it if he was low, on the other hand your gratifying his ego by making a huge fuss, that’s what his depression wants, to be wanted!

there’s no point being all daisy’s and fairy’s about this, were people, we get through things person to person, in your case man to man, you will be the strong one and lead him out of this sink hole, what are the police gonna do, NOTHING you know that, community, friendship, YOU act!

but you have to take the lead on any conversation you two have, you have to keep control and work it out or else you might not get the effect that’s needed…

we have to accept the police won’t help, they probably get this ALL the time, stand up and confront and help, your religious, I’m sure its what the bible would say was the right thing to do!?!

poofandmook's avatar

@Tobotron: You have ABSOLUTELY no right to say anything. First you challenge his diagnosis. Then you say he’s crying for help. Now you say that helping him tonight is going to boost his ego? Do you have any idea how many people commit suicide every DAY? You really have absolutely NOTHING of value to contribute here.

jazmina88's avatar

get him to talk to you tonite… a good friend.
Listen. and support and guide.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No offense, but do NOT listen to @Tobotron! My best friend worked the day he killed himself! He killed himself with people around him! You can not know how, when or where something can happen. The fact that your friend went to school DOES NOT mean he won’t attempt to kill himself later. He IS crying out for attention and he’s doing it for a reason. Some part of him is desperate and freaking out, no matter how calm he appears to be outwardly.

Is there any way you can spend time with him tonight?

Tobotron's avatar

@poofandmook accepted and I’m sorry if I offended people I just want to be realistic to the fact that the government services arn’t always there for people and especially in these circumstances. I know alot of people commit suicide and alot more threaten it and that’s why the police won’t help till its too late and why I made my point that the gentleman involved should act independently if a difference is to be made. I grew up in a pretty harsh environment so im cold hearted, progressive personal action is the only thing that’s going to help here we all know that.

Il retract my previous statements for the emotional respect of the people involved…

poofandmook's avatar

If he is far gone enough, personal action won’t help him, unless they kidnap him and take him against his will to the hospital. If the police did it, it would be legal.

patg7590's avatar

So the nice lady at the suicide prevention hotline told me that aside from telling his parents everything my only real recourse is to fill out a form and a judge signs it and they haul him away to a mental
health screener. (he has passed this before)

I understand what @tobotron is saying. I almost kinda agree but not to the point that I would chance it. Thank you for your input @tobotron, and everyone please take it easy on him/her.

He has passed a screener before. And he is going to hate me when he finds out all the cop calls have been from me. He wants the calls to be from her. I don’t know if me getting him kiddnapped By the cops is going to do anything other than make sure I’m not in this same role the next time this all happens. (because he will excommunicate me as a friend. )

Furthermore I feel like it’s all just for attention, and that I’m the overreacting douchebag in all of this.

I am at a loss.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

poofandmook's avatar

just don’t give your name. he won’t know.

The hard part is if he really has weasled out of a screening before. if he knows how to answer the questions, it will obviously do no good.

Tobotron's avatar

@patg7590 thanks for not demonizing me I don’t comment to offend just because its the internet, I’m only offering a viewpoint…my only input now is that I don’t feel the system can offer what this man needs, the system is generalised and only medicates…

the problem is something at home, something in education, something that touches him emotionally some how, if this is found it can be overcome, people are not made to be un-happy!
I honestly believe that this is the way to help your friend…and if it doesn’t work then I too am to a loss…

I’m glad your not offended I’m just too blunt all the time, my character fault I’m afraid, good luck I mean it!

poofandmook's avatar

I’m sorry if I was harsh but if you’ve seen what I’ve seen, and gone through the hell that I’ve gone through… you’d get pretty pissed off at people trying to brush it off as ego.

patg7590's avatar

@poofandmonk he will know it is me. Everyone else just ignores it. I’m the only one that thinks that it needs to be handled as serious even if it’s not.

Buttonstc's avatar

The real bottom line is this. Whether or not he is attention seeking is TOTALLY BESIDE THE POINT.

If I were you, I would follow the voice of actual experience here , namely Poof and Mook.

After that, for the sake of your own mental health you need to understand that regardless of the immediate outcome or what happens in the future, you are not responsible for anyones actions other than your own.

I had to learn this the hard way after my Mother’s suicide.

But it is the truth. Even if this only postpones his suicide, all you can do is the best you can do at the time. If he eventually completes suicide, it will be HIS DECISION and his decision ALONE. that is the hard truth.

Buttonstc's avatar

Also, if he decides to cut you off (which is doubtful since you do take him seriously) that will be HIS DECISION and not yours.

You can only act on the info he is giving you right now. You are not omnipotent.

Perhaps your timely intervention with the police now will connect him with a therapist who can help him to find the insight he needs. Perhaps not.

You don’t have control over that. You can only use your best judgement for now. The future is unknown.

anartist's avatar

Jesus, you are in the position of trying to force your friend to commit himself to a mental hospitalization voluntarily. Get in touch with his family and this ‘significant other’ and all try to persuade him. It is MUCH UGLIER if the police do it. He can’t sign out voluntarily. He may go to a state hospital instead of a hospital of his choice. Much more of his privacy and dignity will be destroied.

Cruiser's avatar

He is feeling sorry for himself and the alcohol monster is the only thing that reliably will numb his perceived pain. All you can do is remind him of the fact that it is up to him to stop this vicious cycle and the added pain of the misery that booze is doing to his life. One day when he barely wakes up alive he may realize it is all not worth it and accept the need to do something….until then it is not your cross to bear or even lend a hand in carrying. You have done your part and it is time to accept that.

Buttonstc's avatar

Obviously he needs an extended stay in a rehab facility which handles dual diagnosis (addiction and psychiatric problems) so that things can be properly diagnosed.

That’s difficult to arrange on short notice.

Right now it’s an emergency and if it takes the police to put him someplace where he is unable to harm himself, then so be it.

He can always be directly transferred to a different facility like the one above at a later date.

The primary concern right now is for his physical safety not his dignity.

That’s definitely a secondary consideration. He pretty much tossed his dignity out the window by publicly posting suicide threats. That obligates people to take it seriously.

Just get him in a safe place now and let the future be for finding long term solutions, hopefully involving the cooperation of his family and loved ones and perhaps even himself once he’s out of the alcohol fog.

Obviously he is crying out for help. That’s different from just attention seeking.

But if he gets his nose out of joint and doesn’t like the type of help it produces…

…well that’s known as…Actions Have Consequences.

When you choose the behavior, you choose the consequences. One of the consequences of publicly posting multiple suicide threats is the possibility of being committed to a secure facility.

It’s better to have a friend pissed off at you than one in a coffin.

There hopefully will come a day when he will have sense enough to be grateful for a friend like you who took him seriously in a time of crisis.

And to those who are so convinced that he’s just attention grabbing, I have a simple question. Were you born with the ability to read minds are are you just delusional?

None of the rest of us have that ability, for the record.

And it just seems to me that the ones who theorize the loudest about the theory of “just wants attention” are those with ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERIENCE with this in real life.

Those of us who do know better.

RedPowerLady's avatar

You can’t be overreacting. The more a person talks about committing suicide the more likely they are to commit it. But keep in mind this situation is out of your control. You are trying very hard and that is all you can do. Can you access some support of your own and take your mind off of it for a bit? His parents know, the cops know, he is safe for the moment, there isn’t much else you can do. Hugs!

perspicacious's avatar

If you know a family member, encourage them to sign a petition to have him put on a 72 hour commitment. If you do not know a family member, be in touch with your friend; be with him if possible. If he is on meds for BP, try to see that he takes them. He likely is not if he is talking about suicide. You can call the police and they will go to his house to do a well check, but it sounds like you may have already done that. Also, you can take him to an emergency room where he will be evaluated. If they determine he needs to be committed, they will hold him and get a court order themselves. Of course, I’m speaking from experience in a state where the laws may be slightly different from the one you and your friend are in. But, these competency laws are generally similar in the states. This is my opinion, not legal advice.

poofandmook's avatar

If his friend is anything like I was, he won’t go voluntarily, and anyone who tries to ask him to will be on his shit list.

If he did shut you out, I’m pretty sure it would be temporary. After lots of therapy and probably medication, he would realize you only helped save his life.

Speaking of which, is he medicated for the bipolar disorder? This sounds like either his doctor was really irresponsible in not prescribing something, or he refused to take anything.

I know it’s a hard decision to make, knowing he could end up hating you for a while. But he’ll be alive, and that’s the important thing.

And incidentally… if he goes in voluntarily, @anartist, he can sign himself out whenever he wants, AMA (against medical advice). They can’t hold him there unless he is civilly committed, which requires a MH screener and two psychiatrists.

anartist's avatar

@poofandmook yes, I know.It is possible that they can hold him for 72 hrs, but after that, yes he can get out; insurance companies are delighted when patients do not choose to stay long. But it is a wake up call as to the consequences of what he is doing. If that is not enough, he will be back, one way or another.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @Cruiser

There is nothing you can really do, that you have not already attempted but detatch with love.

Listen to the old wise one’s…it’s not your cross to bear as Cruiser mentioned.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma I might be getting up there in years but I am not dead yet!! ;)

poofandmook's avatar

@anartist: Here in New Jersey, they can’t hold him for any amount of time unless the process of civil commitment is started. Once it’s started, they have 72 hours to file or it expires and the patient is free to leave. If he signs in voluntary, they can’t keep him a minute longer than he wants to. It’s also very uncommon that a commitment is voluntary, hence the need for involuntary commitment. Otherwise the patient is admitted voluntarily. If a patient does voluntarily commit themselves, most times they say they want to go home and try to leave, at which point a full civil commitment process would be started if the psychiatrists don’t feel they can let the patient go.

patg7590's avatar

We hung out last night and he’s ok for now. We talked for a few hours and he told me everything and he was going to try to kill himself but he said the three police calls made him change his mind. (only two from me) He’s going to see a specialist today and after our conversation he said he wants to live.

Thanks everyone for your invaluable input and help.

anartist's avatar

@patg7590 you are a good friend

missingbite's avatar

Actually @patg7590, you are a good person! Thank you for stepping up. It took courage, morals, and values. A lot of people would have looked the other way even for a friend.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@patg7590 That is great news!

poofandmook's avatar

Keep an eye on him. He needs to be medicated if he’s bipolar and a repeat suicide risk. He also needs to be in therapy. Hold him accountable… don’t let him slide back.

patg7590's avatar

@poofandmook “hold him accountable” haha good one. He failed bootcamp and as a result needed dual rotator cuff surgery, and now he wants to go into the national guard. He completely chnges every single day. No one knows how to help him.

happy123's avatar

try to make your friend realize he is making a huge mistake and should think about what he wants to do with his future more clearly. and try to talk him into therapy.

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