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Helping a friend - Sister constantly suicidal

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:45 am
by ILoveChristmas
Hi all,

First a little background

A few years ago I worked in a call centre after I left university. During that time I got to know a girl who worked there and we became closer as friends over the period of my employment with the company.

She used to tell me things about her home life, including her sister, who it turns out has some fairly serious mental issues. Even in the short time that i've known my friend, her sister has attempted suicide at least 8 or 9 times, always by overdose. My friend's sister spends most of her life in low security mental hospitals, and when she's finally allowed home a fresh attempt is usually the result.

The Problem

Last night I received a message at 4am from my friend telling me that her sister has yet again attempted suicide by taking 2 complete packets of paracetamol.

Now part of me feels so sorry for my friend and her family and I want to do anything I can to support them, but at the same time i'm so angry with her sister that i'm literally shaking. I find myself wanting to yell at her for putting her family through this. I'm also finding myself having to really watch what i'm saying because I really feel like telling her to get on and make a better job of it next time.

Luckily nobody close to me has ever committed suicide before, but surely an end to all this nonsense is better than a long protracted life of failed attempts that will almost certainly lead to serious and probably ultimately fatal anyway, health issues in the future as a result of the pain killer intake.

I guess really I wanted to vent, but also ask for advice on how best to support my friend and her family. Her mother and father are so stressed out that it's tearing the family apart. There's talk of separations and all sorts.

Re: Helping a friend - Sister constantly suicidal

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:02 am
by snail
Hmm. Why's your friend texting you at 4am about this? What did she expect you to do? I appreciate she wanted support and to talk, but there was no need to do it at 4am. That can't be helping.

To be honest the people I would be angry at are the mental health team. If she constantly attempts suicide then they're not doing their job by allowing her out of hospital, and she clearly needs more/different counselling/medication. I wouldn't be angry at her - no one chooses the incredibly miserable life that she has voluntarily.

But are you sure you're hearing the whole story? I mean, I find it difficult to believe that she would constantly be allowed out of hospital when everything suggests she's still a threat to herself, and this 4am thing is odd. Is there any chance your friend is using this to get closer to you, or gain your interest or sympathy? Does she perhaps like you in a romantic way?

Re: Helping a friend - Sister constantly suicidal

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:12 am
by ILoveChristmas
Hi Snail,

Thanks for your response. I think you're right in lots of ways, she does like me romantically for a start, although i've made it clear that there is nothing other than friendship on the cards.

I guess i'd never considered whether she's using her sister to get close to me. What a horrid thing to do if it's true, especially as she knows i'll do anything to help her (or anyone else). She has a horrible habbit of phoning or texting me in the middle of the night, especially if she's out on the town or something. I could be up for work at 6.30 but she'll phone me at 4am and wake me up.

I think you're also right about who's really at fault in the whole situation. It's like the mental services people get her back to where she was a few months ago and then mistake the progress as her being 'cured' and then release her for it all to start over again.

I find myself between a rock and hard place though, I mean it's not within me to ignore my friend and yet really if i'm honest, I have enough issues in my own life and I don't really want to be made to feel like her sister is my problem too.

I think your name needs changed to 'Oracle' snail :)

Re: Helping a friend - Sister constantly suicidal

PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:33 am
by snail
I think some of your anger may actually be at your friend, for involving you in this, but it's 'easier' to feel angry at her sister. I doubt she is deliberately using her sister to get closer to you; it's more likely unconscious, but I do think that motive is probably there somewhere, from what you've said.

I have to go out so don't really have time for a proper reply, but just to say; you can be there for your friend, but draw a line. You have commitments of your own, to your own family, and you need to look after yourself. I know you have a little boy, but could you turn your phone off when sleeping? Anything can be dealt with during the daytime, after you've rested and when it's convenient for you.