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MAC-W

Brilliant_Rock
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671
My step daughter tried to commit suicide this morning.


I dont know what to do or what to say.


I dont want to make a wrong move on this as she is blaming her dad and saying he drove her to it. (its her perception and I think I have to deal with how she is feeling & thinking, regardless of what the outside facts are).

I do have an excellent relationship with my stepdaughter but she is now under the care of her mother who I dont have a workable relationship with.

Anyone have any experience I can learn from? (from any side of the equation) Please!



ETA: We are all 120% convinced it was a cry for help not a serious attempt as she took herself to hospital less than 1 hour after taking all the pills, but that doesnt make it any easier to know what to say or do.
 

Rhea

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I'm sorry you're going through this.

When I attempted, more a cry for help, in my teens my dad and sister were very angry. I have no idea what you should do or say. I do know that it's embarrassing and I wish a million times over my parents hadn't involved my sister - they took us all to family counselling. I still have trouble with trusting my sister's reaction to things over 15 years later - she yelled at me and said some really horrible things. Everyone was blaming themselves and that didn't help at all as I then needed to reassure and care for everyone else rather than the other way around.

I have no idea what would have helped, only what didn't help. I wish I could be more helpful.
 

missy

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I'm so sorry your family is going through this. Definitely get professionals involved- counseling not just for your stepdaughter but the whole family. Separately and together I would say but of course it all depends on what the professional advice is. Most important thing is to get a psychiatrist/psychologist who specializes (in young adults-not sure how old your stepdaughter is) in suicide counseling. *hugs* to your whole family.

Here is some more info that may be helpful:

http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=F2F25092-7E90-9BD4-C4658F1D2B5D19A0

http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=0528C91E-E3A5-FC13-A6616EC3811FE48C
 

MAC-W

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Addy|1315914564|3016383 said:
I'm sorry you're going through this.

When I attempted, more a cry for help, in my teens my dad and sister were very angry. I have no idea what you should do or say. I do know that it's embarrassing and I wish a million times over my parents hadn't involved my sister - they took us all to family counselling. I still have trouble with trusting my sister's reaction to things over 15 years later - she yelled at me and said some really horrible things. Everyone was blaming themselves and that didn't help at all as I then needed to reassure and care for everyone else rather than the other way around.

I have no idea what would have helped, only what didn't help. I wish I could be more helpful.
Addy, thank you for your response. Knowing what doesnt help is very useful and I'm grateful to you, especially for the highlighted bit.
 

MAC-W

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missy|1315914922|3016385 said:
I'm so sorry your family is going through this. Definitely get professionals involved- counseling not just for your stepdaughter but the whole family. Separately and together I would say but of course it all depends on what the professional advice is. Most important thing is to get a psychiatrist/psychologist who specializes (in young adults-not sure how old your stepdaughter is) in suicide counseling. *hugs* to your whole family.

Here is some more info that may be helpful:

http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=F2F25092-7E90-9BD4-C4658F1D2B5D19A0

http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=0528C91E-E3A5-FC13-A6616EC3811FE48C

Missy, thank you for the links. The hospital she is in automatically calls in a psychiatrist in all cases of attempted suicide, but I'm not sure how ready my stepdaughter is to recieve such help. She has a history of not accepting anything that doesnt accord to her view of the world, but we will certainly encourage her to participate. I'm just not sure how hard to push her if she refuses to attend?

(She's 29 and a mother to 3 young children, who recently went to live with their dad so C could focus on completing her degree. Maybe we pushed her too hard about university but she seemed to really want it - kept saying how she needed to offer her children a better future which she couldnt do if she didnt get her degree. She was the instigator of her children going to live with their dad so she could focus on completing her final year. Now I'm wondering if she was just saying what she thought everyone wanted to hear as her 2 sisters had already graduated and she was feeling left out?)

I'm double guessing everything and dont know what to think. I just want her to be well and happy.
 

Rhea

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I assumed she was younger. I should've have assumed.

Does your step-daughter have a history of depression? Highs and lows? Any warnings when she's getting down?

As you may have guessed from my previous post, I have a bit of a history, not so much with attempts as I got older, but the highs and lows have always plagued me. I was diagnosed as a teen, but don't feel it suits me now. I have no clue what I am and don't really care if it's "just the blues" and "feeling a bit down" or if I suffer proper depression.

I was taken to several psychiatrists as a teen and young adult and couldn't really deal with them. They didn't talk back much, just ask questions. They all asked why and I couldn't tell them, I had no clue myself. And I really don't want a diagnosis at this point, I don't think it'll be helpful.

I found a really good therapist about 2 years ago when I was going through a hard time. She never seemed to try to get to the root of why I do what I do or anything, but worked a lot more ideas about what would make my life better. If you woke up tomorrow and your world was perfect, what would it look like? Okay, how are you going to get there? We had goals and homework at the end and it forced me to think a lot about how I was feeling - in an improving, take control way rather than a why way. She was a psychotherapist I believe though I wasn't really in psychotherapy as such - that's a several years long thing and mine was an I need a break, I'm driving myself mad thing. She came highly recommended.

Also good, for me at least, was Congnitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). I found out about it when several of my clients (homeless mentally ill) were referred and it's also short-term and focused - something that seems to work extremely well for me.

I wouldn't rule out all types of therapy, but perhaps attempt to find one that's a good match to her if she'll agree to go.
 

ame

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I am so sorry. I don't have any constructive information to add or anything besides support to give.
 

somethingshiny

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I'm sorry your family is going through this.

My mom attempted suicide many years ago. I was 18 and my dad and I took her to the ER where they saved her. I was so angry with her. Why would she even think she should leave 4 children without a mother. Saying that didn't help though. Eventually, I learned that it wasn't because she didn't love us, it's because she felt no one loved her. My mom's attempt was a real one and she should not have recovered. It sounds like your step-daughter is crying for help. To me, that gives hope. My mom didn't want any help and just said the things she needed to say to get released from a psychiatric unit. She still struggles with depression and anxiety and guilt and self-loathing. Your step-daughter is at a place where she will most likely accept help and love and hopefully treatment.

Now, when I say my mom didn't feel loved, I could have felt guilty about it. But the fact is, it was HER perception, NOT reality. I believe that a lot of people who are on the edge could use a reality check. I don't mean that in an offensive way but seriously. I think if someone just asked my mom what she was feeling and why she was feeling that way, we all could have given her what she needed.
 

JewelFreak

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I'm so sorry, Mac, that you are facing hard stuff like this. You must be a fabulous stepfather to be so deeply concerned & that in itself is a plus for her.

Wish I had words of much wisdom. It does sound like a cry for help -- that part is good, that she wanted help rather than really to do harm to herself. I had clinical depression all my life -- diagnosed when I was 28, but I remember feeling deeply sad & "separate" from others at 4 yrs old. One symptom I recognize in looking back is what I call the "..if only..." syndrome: "if I lived somewhere else..." "if I only had more friends..." "...a different job..." Sending her kids to their father, going back to school (I went to B-school at 27), could be similar things. At 28 -- same time period as your stepdaughter -- I realized I was miserable no matter what changes I made. Because I had to take ME along to each new place; I was the problem. Ergo -- solve it by getting rid of oneself.

Medication saved my life & does for countless people. Addy's message, that a down-to-earth therapist can offer the best help, is great. Possibly your stepdaughter just isn't grabbed by Byzantine digging into the past for reasons & would have a better rapport with someone who can help her cope with her present. I sure did. I hope the hospital or a subsequent psychiatrist can persuade her to try meds -- she could be bipolar or unipolar & they are the best able to determine whether and what.

Best of wishes from here -- with you in her corner, she's a lucky girl.

--- Laurie
 

VRBeauty

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Mac - first of all, I'm sorry your family is going through this.

You mentioned that your SD blames her father. Is there something about his character in particular that she's focused on? I realize it may be her perception rather than reality, but that as you said, that perception is what she's dealing with. And while it may seem like perception to you, it's very real to her. I ask because for me, Al-Anon was the key to starting to deal with my depression. I got there because I kept choosing alcoholic relationships, but it what it really helped me with is dealing with family dynamics - or my perception thereof - setting apropriate adult boundaries, and self-esteem.

Edited to add - ditto everything Jewelfreak said, especially her description of her thoughts in depression. Which may sound like a contradiction compared to what I wrote above, but... depression is full of contradictions.
 

bee*

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I'm so sorry to hear that. I can only imagine how scary it is to find out what she did.
 

hawaiianorangetree

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http://www.mcsp.org.au/

Mac, I have only had personal experience with the mcsp from an after suicide POV and their resources were very helpful. I'm sure their prevention strategies and resources are just as good too. They are WA based as well.

The best advice I can give you is to get your daughter talking. If not to you, her mum or her dad, to someone. Talking about why she felt like she had to take this path will greatly reduce the chances of it happening again. I agree that it sounded like a cry for help, but you can never be too careful or take a warning like this too seriously. It sounds like she is in great hands though, good luck.
 

Circe

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I've been suicidal, though I've never made an attempt: in my case, the problem is that while I may be prone to run-of-the-mill blues, certain medications will tip me over the edge into, first, full-fledged depression and then suicidal ideation. So while I heartily second the suggestions of therapy, and particularly CBT (I have a friend who's doing this now, and it's working wonders), if this is out-of-the-ordinary behavior, I'd also recommend that someone - her mother, her psychiatrist, a close friend - check and see as to whether she's been taking anything that lists this kind of thing as a potential side effect. For me, thus far, it's been steroid-based medications (for asthma - took me a while to notice the pattern there), and Ambien, which kicked in so incredibly fast that I literally couldn't believe it. So now I'm very watchful about any and all medications, but most people aren't. Just another thing to consider, on the practical side.

On the emotional side ... while I know it's completely natural to feel angry with a person who's performed actions of self-harm, almost just as you would be with any other person who'd harmed your loved one, I would strongly recommend tamping down the anger. I never made any suicide attempts, but I had some habits (punching walls and the like) that I'm not proud of now, and that I would classify first as coping mechanisms (hard to think about how upset you are if you're bandaging your knuckles), and second, as a cries for help. Alas, instead I would generally get scolded for being such a screw-up, adding to the general problems, etc., which would just complicate matters further. If this is her way of saying something about her situation - the pressure to succeed, the feeling she's not pleasing her dad, whatever - is putting her under stress, listen and go from there.

You're being a wonderful step-mother and friend to try to gather as much info. as possible and peg your actions to that instead of just just reacting: we should all be so lucky. I hope things go well for your step-daughter, and she gets the help she needs - from all quarters.
 

AGBF

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MAC-W|1315916689|3016405 said:
(She's 29 and a mother to 3 young children, who recently went to live with their dad so C could focus on completing her degree. Maybe we pushed her too hard about university but she seemed to really want it - kept saying how she needed to offer her children a better future which she couldnt do if she didnt get her degree. She was the instigator of her children going to live with their dad so she could focus on completing her final year. Now I'm wondering if she was just saying what she thought everyone wanted to hear as her 2 sisters had already graduated and she was feeling left out?)

I'm double guessing everything and dont know what to think. I just want her to be well and happy.
MAC-W, I think you have a lot of insight. There is a good reason your stepdaughter has been drawn to you! It is very important that every attempt at suicide be taken very seriously, and I am really, really happy that you are doing just that!

My daughter overdosed on pills twice at age 15 and again this year at age 18. I think the first attempt was the most serious attempt to die, but any of the attempts could have led to her death. In fact the second and third attempts both led to lengthier stays in the hospital for medical complications from what she did to herself than the first attempt did (and all medical stays were followed by stays in psychiatric hospitals).

I hope that your stepdaughter is forced into a psychiatric hospitalization, frankly. It may help her to realize what she has done and give her the attention she needs. Then she will be urged by others to seek help when she leaves the hospital, maybe in a partial hospital/day treatment program. I suspect she has too much pressure on her right now.

Good luck. Keep us apprised!

Hugs,
Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

vc10um

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Circe|1315924605|3016473 said:
I've been suicidal, though I've never made an attempt: in my case, the problem is that while I may be prone to run-of-the-mill blues, certain medications will tip me over the edge into, first, full-fledged depression and then suicidal ideation. So while I heartily second the suggestions of therapy, and particularly CBT (I have a friend who's doing this now, and it's working wonders), if this is out-of-the-ordinary behavior, I'd also recommend that someone - her mother, her psychiatrist, a close friend - check and see as to whether she's been taking anything that lists this kind of thing as a potential side effect. For me, thus far, it's been steroid-based medications (for asthma - took me a while to notice the pattern there), and Ambien, which kicked in so incredibly fast that I literally couldn't believe it. So now I'm very watchful about any and all medications, but most people aren't. Just another thing to consider, on the practical side.

On the emotional side ... while I know it's completely natural to feel angry with a person who's performed actions of self-harm, almost just as you would be with any other person who'd harmed your loved one, I would strongly recommend tamping down the anger. I never made any suicide attempts, but I had some habits (punching walls and the like) that I'm not proud of now, and that I would classify first as coping mechanisms (hard to think about how upset you are if you're bandaging your knuckles), and second, as a cries for help. Alas, instead I would generally get scolded for being such a screw-up, adding to the general problems, etc., which would just complicate matters further. If this is her way of saying something about her situation - the pressure to succeed, the feeling she's not pleasing her dad, whatever - is putting her under stress, listen and go from there.

You're being a wonderful step-mother and friend to try to gather as much info. as possible and peg your actions to that instead of just just reacting: we should all be so lucky. I hope things go well for your step-daughter, and she gets the help she needs - from all quarters.
I have to ditto what Circe said about medications. I do not know if she's taking anything, but my sister attempted suicide by overdose several years back. We found out afterward that, while she was probably depressed, the suicidal tendencies actually came about as a side affect of pain medication she had been taking.

I have no other constructive advice except to hang in there, and that we're all thinking of you and sending you and your step-daughter the best of wishes and thoughts.
 

swingirl

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I cannot offer much other than to say improving your relationship with her mother might help to relieve a little family stress and make caring for your step-daughter's children easier. I am sorry your family is having to deal with this and I hope your step-daughter gets the help she needs.
 

Tacori E-ring

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I am sorry to hear this.

You need to have a professional suicide assessment done. She may have to be committed. A previous attempt actually increases the risk. I take suicidal ideation *very* seriously. Also, I think it is common for people to be afraid to ask the tough questions like, "are you thinking about killing or hurting yourself?" because family feels uncomfortable or that saying it will give the person the idea. This is false. It is better to be direct and clear. If she is still feeling suicidal you need to take her to the ER to have her committed. Obviously she needs a good therapist. Good luck.
 

kenny

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I'm not much help but just wanted to send an e-hug.
This is such an important issue but so hard to fix.
Plus all the love and support of a zillion people can't do it.
She has to.

I DO hope she finds a good therapist with whom she connects.
That made all the difference in my life, and yes, I've been there too.

So please, lead this horse to water . . . and hope for the best.
That's all you can do, besides just being there and listening.
 

MAC-W

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Addy - she doesn't have a history of depression as such, but she does have a history of anger and alienation to an extent. I think she is probably a little like you in the respect that she doesnt want "why?' type treatment. I'll try to make the suggestion of CBT to her and also mention it to her mother and the doctors. Thanks.

SomethingShiny - I definately feel that she thinks no-one loves her or if they do there are too many conditions to the love. Its not true but I do think it is her perception. I remember saying to her dad when she got pregnant with her first child, that all she wanted was for someone who would love her unconditionally (and you dont get more unconditional than a childs love). She has always had unconditional love from her family, but didnt and still doesnt recognise it.

Jewelfreak - Thank you. You raise good points & I'm sure C definately feels separate sometimes. And what you said about having to take ME along to each new place - ding ding ding - that is such a great description and rings lots of bells for C and things she has said in the past. I'm going to keep that in mind for the future. I think Bipolar (or maybe Unipolar cause she nevers seems to have major highs just general lows and anger) is a possibility but she has never recieved any type of diagnosis as such. I'll have to look into this more but as she is not a big fan of taking medication of any sort, I'm not sure how it will go.

VRBeauty - she is definately focussing on abandonment. From 20+ years ago when her dad and mom split up and from now when her dad said he wouldnt give her any more money at the moment for some debt she has. He did say he would help in the future but needed to see some actions from her first before we gave her any more money. She has taken this to mean that she is on her own and he wants nothing to do with her anymore (so untrue but its her version of what was said).

HOT - thank you for the link.

Circe - she has those habits (punching walls etc) and has had them for years - I've never seen her do it or been around her when she has, but her sister tells me she does it a lot. I never thought of it as a coping mechanism - thank you for that insight.

AGBF - I'm definately taking this seriously. I dont want to lose C, but I'm terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing. Am I being too tough? not tough enough? When to be tough and when to back off? I just dont know. I dont want to be walking on eggshells with her but at the same time I dont want to alienate her or do anything that might upset her further.

SwingGirl - I would love to improve my relationship with her mother, but that has not been possible due to issues her mother has. Believe me, I've tried.

Ame, CentralSquare, bee, vc10um, Tacori, Kenny,
thank you for the good wishes and the support. I really appreciate it

Mac
 

Amys Bling

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Sending hugs.


I do think she needs to find a therapist she trusts andvqhen through what is at the root of this. At a certain point family should be receiving counseling as well.
 

Gypsy

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Wow. I'm sorry MAC.

Take what you want from this:

I would make sure that the focus is on her in her presence. It's normal, when our spouses are hurting because they've been blamed for something (fair or not), so give them a lot of attention. And you should... but privately. You don't want her to feel the focus is on what she did to the family. So that the focus is all about the family. The focus should be on how you can help her, and "all about her"... it's a cry for attention.

I think she should be aware on the impact of her actions on the family. But in a ... we LOVE YOU, so this hurts us because we worry about you. We know YOU are hurting, so we are too. You know what I mean? Keep that the focus on her.
 

TristanC

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I'm so sorry that she and you have gone through this. I am relieved that she is fine, and that the attempt in itself was not as serious. It speaks about the conviction behind it, and at least it seems she wants to let someone know that she needs help.

I have no knowledge of how to make it right. I merely know that I would like for her to be only with the people that are ready to openly and honestly care for her without strong judgement right now.

And perception IS reality. Saying otherwise means nothing unless the listener believes you.
 

Pandora II

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I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

My ex-boyfriend who I had lived with for seven years hanged himself a few months after we split up. It will be 14 years this November and I still am very far away from having benign thoughts about him for what he did to me, his mother and the rest of his friends and family.

I ditto everything Tacori suggests.

I also suggest that you make sure that don't get sucked in too much. Take a step back every now and then and make sure that you are looking after yourself, it can be very draining being with someone who threatens suicide and yet won't take any steps to help themselves. When I left I had had it up to here with threats of suicide and constantly being vigilant.

Btw, for what it is worth, my ex-bf had never been depressed in his life and was not depressed when he killed himself. It is likely he had some form of personality disorder combined with an alcohol problem.
 

ilovethiswebsite

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My best advice would be to have her see a psychiatrist (to make sure she is not in imminent risk of trying to commit suicide again, in which case she would need to be admitted to in inpatient unit at your local hospital), and start individual and family counseling immediately. Depression is STRONGLY correlated with suicide, so she needs to get help for the depression if she wants the suicidal ideation to go away. Cognitive behavioral therapy (individual) and family therapy can be really helpful for depression, and sometimes medications can help (although you sometimes need to be careful as certain SSRI's used to treat depression can sometimes increase risks for suicide).

Best of luck. Unfortunately teen suicide attempts are not all that uncommon. Maybe you and your partner can join a parent support group in your community.
 

Arkteia

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A book by K.R. Jamison "Night falls fast: understanding suicide". Definitely one of the best sources.

Very little on a professional note, because you already got a lot of advises, and because I do not want to overburden people. Just a couple of things. As a psychiatrist, I tend to take all suicide attempts, even very dramatic ones, as more than a cry for help. 2/3 of all people think of suicide at certain points of their lives, but few attempt to even approach this line. It might have been an impulsive gesture, but the fact is, at a certain point she wanted it, maybe she got scared later and asked for help... I do not know the details of your stepdaughter's case.

She needs a psychiatrist, and she needs serious help, because unfortunately, prior attempts are a risk factor for completed suicide.

On a personal note. My father, who has horrible seasonal depressions, has been occasionally talking about suicide since he was 40. He seriously views it as a way out. When my mother was alive, she used his attachment to the family as the way to prevent him from attempting it. Played on his strong sense of commitment to the family. She always spoke about his responsibility. I think this is what kept him alive. Now she is gone, and he keeps himself alive because he feels his death would make my life difficult, emotionally (we are very close), so he goes on. I once found a belt on his cupboard... I felt horrible, I think he was either thinking of it or seriously trying to and just got scared the last moment.

Also, there is always a terrible shame around talking about suicidal thoughts. People try to minimize them, try to minimize their own attempts. I talk about it with my patients. Same probably holds true for your SD. If you can, try to make her feel less ashamed of it.

Most of my (few) completed cases had issues related to alcohol or drugs. Does she have any? If so, she may need chemical dependency counseling on top of regular therapist and a psychiatrist.

Also, untreated mood disorders (bipolar and depression), as well as borderline personality disorder, are huge risk factors.

Only two medications have been statistically shown to reduce the risk of suicide - Lithium and Clozaril. I am not in any way giving any advises, both are serious drugs, especially Clozaril, just thought people would be interested to know. Only two of the whole armamentarium.

I know how hard it hit you... I am very, very sorry for you and for her.
 

MAC-W

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AmysBling, Gypsy, TristanC, Pandora, ilovethiswebsite, Crasru,
Thank you for the wise advice and the support.

C is out of the hospital now, but insisting "it all just got a bit much but everything is fine now". ;( ;( ;( :(sad :(sad :(sad ;( ;( ;( What do I say to her to make her realise she NEEDS to talk with the professional counsellor?
 

susimoo

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Mac W
I am so sorry you are going through this. I have been slow to respond as I had someone close to me go through this just before I left Scotland for Oz. Your post hit a chord. A still sore one at that. I feel for you all.

It is a very scary and bewildering time for all concerned. I wanted to send you this biggest hug. Maybe one day soon when we do a WA PS GTG you can update us in person. I am sure with the right guidance you can all come through this healthy and stronger too.

Meantime I will have you all in my thoughts. I wish you and yours only the best.
 

somethingshiny

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I'm not trying to start an argument here.

Tristan~ Perception is YOUR reality. I don't know if you're making that distinction or not but I think it's an important one. When I say "it was their perception, not reality" it's because the victims of suicide (which is everyone involved) often feel that they've done something wrong when in fact they have not. The perception of the individual is the issue. Even if your life sucks, you can still go on with it. If your perception makes it worse, then it becomes much more difficult. For example: I didn't tell my mom that I loved her. Instead of knowing that I did even if it wasn't said, she perceived that there was no love just because there were no words. Her perception is her reality, but it's still wrong. People who suffer mental disorders need to see reality as it is, whether that's through therapy, CBT, medications, meditation, whatever it takes. I know that saying this doesn't help the person who is feeling that ending their life is the best option. I'm saying this as a victim from the other side.
 

MichelleCarmen

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Hi,
A cry for help should be taken extremely seriously. And, it does sound like she was crying out. A person I know did the same...three times(?) Would take pills then call 911 later. Finally she did kill herself and that time she did NOT take just pills. She went to extreme measures to ensure there would be no recovery.

Your step daughter should be taken to a professional for evaluation.

ETA - yes, and I agree about the medication idea but research them first! The person I speak of was on a med and quit cold turkey...unfortuntely I'm on that same one and am tapering off of it b/c it's not working like it once did, but even so the withdrawals are hell. I feel like crap! It was recommended to me to go back and try one of the old school meds rather than a newer/fancier one but those have their own set of side effects. Lithium is actually suppose to be still one of the best for depression but has nasty side effects so I won't take it. There is a town in Japan that has a really low rate of suicide and their water was tested and a small amount of lithium was found to be natural in their water supply!
 
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