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Ask A Therapist: How Do I Help My Suicidal Best Friend?

A few months ago me and my best friends ex boyfriend (who still cares a lot about her) went to our school guidance councilors and told them how my best friend was suicidal. they told her parents and she had to get an evaluation from a therapist. they cleared her and she was allowed back in school. however now school isn’t in session and she’s suicidal again. I know this because she told me that I’m the only thing keeping her alive. a few years ago she was raped by a close friend and then a few days after the rape walked in on him killing himself. she never dealt with this traumatic event and I think it’s one of the reasons she’s suicidal now. we talked a little about it and she told me she feels like she messes everything up and all she does is make things worse. I tried to show her how that’s not true and how a lot of people care about her but she doesn’t believe me. I don’t want to go to her parents again because I dont think they’d believe me a second time. I want her to get help and talk to someone but I don’t know how to do it. please help me.

A: Thank you for your email. I can feel your concern for your friend through this letter. Even though you might be putting your friendship at risk, I suggest you go talk to her parents. They need to know about the rape and that she walked in on the person who raped her committing suicide. Those are horrific traumas for a teenager to witness and she is in serious danger.  Please watch the video response for more tools to handle this painful situation.

Take good care of yourself
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Think I’m Depressed

So five months ago, I moved from Chicago to a new school. I thought it would be great to move to a new school, but I was wrong. It isn’t and I’m still not making any close friends. Everyone already has all their groups and best friends, so it’s really hard for me. I still haven’t found anyone to fit in with. And now, I’m starting to have self esteem issues. I was already having suicidal thoughts a little before I came to this school, but then they kind of died off. But about a month after being in my new school, the thoughts came back and stayed with me for another good 3 months. Even though these thoughts are gone, my self-esteem isn’t as great as it used to be. I cry a lot more often just thinking about my life, and I’m a lot more sensitive than I used to be. I also used to have an eating disorder, where I made myself throw up a few days a week. I barely read anymore, which is something I used to do all the time.
 From this, do you think I’m depressed?

A: The short answer is yes, your symptoms do sound like depression. I suggest that you seek help immediately. The social isolation and low self-esteem, frequent crying, and your history of suicidal thoughts are serious symptoms that need to be addressed. While I can’t diagnose you in this forum, I suggest that you get a thorough mental health evaluation to find out exactly what’s going on, and what treatment you need so you can start enjoying your life. Watch the video below for my complete response. Thanks for writing in.

Take good care of yourself,

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Mother-in-law Passed Away and Left Us $50,000 In Debt

Q: To start off I was best friends with my wife’s mother. She took me in and gave me a family. Within the last 2 years both my wife’s mother and grand father passed away. My wife and I lived with them before we got married.

We ended up getting married twice, once in a church and once in my mother in law’s room at the nursing home. She was 46 years old when she died and it happened this past march.

Since then I have found that we have tons of money to pay out in inheritance tax and to her medical bills if we want to keep our house. My wife has stopped doing anything around the house and she won’t go do any of the legal things that need to be done by her.

How can I get her more motivated without hurting her feelings and how can I keep my sanity though out all of this. I don’t really know what to do to get myself motivated to be happier.

A: I am so sorry to hear about your recent family losses and financial difficulties. You’ve both lost two important support people, and while they can’t be replaced, it important for you and your wife to get additional support during this difficult time. While grieving is different for every person, it seems that your wife’s grieving may have turned into depression. Her “lack of motivation” and difficulty functioning may not be something she can control at this point.  Your difficulty being happy is also concerning to me and I recommend that both of you get an assessment for depression by a mental health professional. I also want to encourage you to seek out a grief counselor to help you process your losses, and a grief group so you can talk with other families who are going through similar experiences. To find a therapist and a group in your area click here.

In addition to mental health support, please seek professional advice on your legal and financial matters surrounding your mother-in-law’s passing, if you haven’t already done so. Tax issues and liability for medical bills can be complex and very stressful.

Thank you again for writing.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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