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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: Is My Friend Really Suicidal or Just Seeking Attention?

I have a friend with severe problems. She’s 16, she is at distance from me. She has claimed to have tried suicide many times, sometimes even talking about committing suicide while I was talking to her. A friend posed the possibility that the suicide attempts were fake, and that she was calling for attention. One, I want to know if it is possible for her to actually want to commit suicide, while announcing it to us. I ask this because a friend of mine insists that suicide is only committed by people who don’t even mention it, or who mention it once and attempt it. Two, if she is attention calling, how can I help her? She is a great friend of mine, and I want to help. She was/is bullied, she’s bisexual, and that already got people to bash on her, she was beaten by her father, and occasionally still is. She cuts herself. Doesn’t eat for large amounts of time, because she thinks she’s fat. She is ignored by her mother, etc. I wonder if it’s also possible that she exaggerated her description of the problems, in order to call for attention.

A: Your friend is lucky to have a concerned friend like you. While you can help, it’s important for you to remember that you can’t save her from her problems. It sounds like your friend could benefit from intensive therapy. Are her parents or extended family members a resource for her to get help? Please encourage her to get a mental health evaluation as soon as possible. You nor I can determine whether she is indeed suicidal, especially in this forum, but a licensed mental health professional can. Watch the video for the complete answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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