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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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Ask A Therapist: Is My Fear And Worry Normal?

Q: Okay, I consistently have worry.  I try to make it go away by obsessing over my smallest worries.  Because “Murphy’s Law” somehow dictates to me that doing that would mean that whatever horror I think would happen, won’t.  Its started consuming me to a point where I flip out all the time.  Its affecting my work and my home life.  I want to stop but it’s like I am going down a waterslide, I can’t just stop.  I have no one who understands.  They keep telling me that I just need to stop worrying but its not that easy!  I honestly don’t know what to do.  I know its not “normal” but is it really that weird?  I just really need some advice on what to do.

A: Thank you for your excellent question. The short answer is “no.” It sounds to me like you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, which is something you just can’t “stop” or will away, no matter how hard you try. Since work and relationships are being negatively affected, I suggest that you get a mental health evaluation from a licensed mental health professional very soon. If you need help finding a therapist one in your area click here.

Since you haven’t given specific symptoms, it’s difficult for me to guess which anxiety disorder you’re most likely suffering from.  In addition to an evaluation and therapy, consider learning more about mindfulness practices to help you calm your thoughts. Since many people in your life don’t understand what you’re going through, seek people who do understand.  A local support group, group therapy, or online support groups like Psych Central Forums gives you access to people who know what it’s like to struggle with excessive worry.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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