Ok, wise friends. If I know somebody's teen is suicidal, what do I do?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    OMG. I haven't been able to sleep all night. WTH can I do?

    Here it goes.

    You have all seen my posts about Jumper's sweet boyfriend J. I was always really drawn to him and felt that he was hurting, although I didn't really know much about his back story...just that his father and stepmother (who he thinks of as his mother) are very hard on him and often cruel. And I knew his birthmother was considered "crazy" by people who grew up with her, but I don't know what "crazy" really means. I know that this soon-to-be-young-adult is a winner on every front...very smart without much effort, a fabulous athlete, good looking, very popular, one of the nicest boys you could meet, very religious...you name the good and that's him. I thought he'd be fine once he got out of the house and in college.

    Last week he was watching Jumper play volleyball with one of his friends and I went up to him to say hi. He looked flustered and hardly talked to me, although he wasn't being rude. He just looked very haunted and I thought something bad had happened at home. Jumper went out for ice cream with him after her game, and when she walked in I said, "Is J. ok?" She said, "He was just in a weird mood. He gets like that sometimes." She held up some flowers he had bought her then went to her room.

    Today, in the car, Jumper told me that J. has terrible problems with depression. It started with he was eight and his father remarried (ya wonder why???) and it was so bad then that this Neanderthal family actually got him help because it scared Dad. But, according to Jumper, he never really recovered and has been suicidally depressed ever since. He has told that if it wasn't for her he doesn't know if he would even be here. Jumper said he has no self-esteem,that telling him about all his gifts doesn't make him feel better, that he doesn't like himself. I told her to make him promise to tell her if he is going to do anything to himself. Then I dropped her off at her friend's house and cried in the car.

    I have suffered from depression a good portion of my life before I found these miraculous medications. I know how horrible it is. I am afraid that, now that I have this knowledge, J. will try to kill himself anyway because his idiot parents are so mean to him and he loves them so much. He doesn't trust his parents so he won't tell them how he feels, and I don't trust them to respond normally either. I already talked to him once about what a great kid we think he is and how he can count on us as his friends. But he is a very closed up kid and doesn't share much and I know he won't talk to us. He is used to keeping secrets from the world.

    What would you do in this situation? I am not supposed to have this information, I am sure. Jumper didnt' tell me, "Don't talk to J. about it" but I'm sure s he doesn't want me to. And I'm not at all sure that talking to him would do anything more than freak him out. This a kid with a deer in the headlights look all the time. At this point in time, I think the only person he trusts is Jumper. He does have a lot of friends, but he never discusses his home life or his mental health with anybody except Jumper.

    I can't believe his parents don't understand, from his history, that he is vulnerable to depression. They don't seem to even be taking that into consideration at all. He is just a wayward kid to them...I feel like punching them both in the noses (not really...well, yeah, really, but of course I never would"). Normally I would talk to the parents about this, but I think that could make it worse.

    Do I just let it go for now and...and what? If this kid gets the right treatment, he has so much good to offer the world...I also worry about Jumper. She is very mature (most of her friends are juniors and seniors that she plays sports with), but she is still only fifteen. This is a lot of emotional stuff for her, although she seems to be dealing with it very well. She doesn't seem stressed out or overly emotional...she seems to be fine being there for him...but is she old enough for this?
  2. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I don't really know what more you can do. If you speak to him, you will likely push him underground even more. And you risk his trust with jumper because she told you. Unless you get info that suggests it is imminent, I think all you can do is what you've been doing - try to show him there is better out there...show him your support, and support jumper. If that's who he trusts, that's what you have to go with for now. Maybe you can find opportunities to get to know him a little better - going to his games (I know how awful that was, tho) or having some short outings with them. Some little ways to let him begin to feel more comfortable with you, which would give you more options down the road.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks. He will definitely be going on some trips with us in the future. Maybe he'll open up. His games are almost over and I think it's best for him and Jumper if I dont go. It just makes his parents meaner to him.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Sending positive thoughts that when the timing is right, you'll know what to do.
  5. keista

    keista New Member

    When to opportunity arises, I would bring up YOUR issues (in passing conversation of course) "Oh, I'm so happy I found my medications" "So glad I got help and haven't looked back" Of course, this conversation is to be one-sided giving absolutely no inclination to the fact that he may have similar issues. Give Jumper the heads up that you may do this so she doesn't jump to the typical teen conclusion that you are actually bringing the subject up.

    If Jumper discusses this further, give HER permission to bring up your issues, and how it's NOT a character flaw and you are AWESOME MOM partly because you found good medications to keep this illness at bay.

    If, once he moves out of the house (he's still planning that right?) he doesn't go seek help for himself, discuss the matter with the parents there and see if they could nudge him into therapy "just to deal with the stress of his current situation"

    Poor kid. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Great idea on bringing up MY issues. Jumper can tell anyone she likes about my depression problems. We don't keep secrets in our family...I never say "Don't tell..."

    Unfortunately, J. isn't leaving because he wants to leave. It will be hard for him since he wants to go to college. He is being forced to leave by his parents. He may have to stay here. If so, I'll get to know him better then.
  7. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Depression is such a mean illness. I am sorry for him and sorry for you. Boys especially can be so impulsive if they do decide to do something. I think if you have never talked about yourself before and he is that smart, he would probabaly figure out that you were hinting at something to him if you suddenly are talking about yourself and your depression. Maybe, maybe not. But you already did open the door when you asked how he was. If you say something like you have noticed he doesn't seem his usual self, and then just open the door by letting him know you have grown to really love him as one of your own and just know he can come to you with anything, anytime... maybe he will at least have one more safety net under him. One more little thought to stop him if he gets to the point of thinking no one cares. Ultimately, it will be his decision so prepare yourself that you can not control what happens. You can only be supportive since you are not his parent. I lost a child I cared for from his early childhood. He had adhd but didn't take the medications off school times. Athletic, smart, from an amazing family who DID get him help. Once in college didn't think he needed ADHD medications. He became friends with my sister (worked together) and they both have adhd so he confessed to her that he was self medicating with drugs and he felt so guilty. A few months later he did call 911 to come and get him because he didn't want his parents to find hiim. Now we miss him dearly but even though we all knew there was something going on, we couldnt actually stop him. I was depressed as a young adult and I know the medications and my hard work were the only things that stopped me from wanting to die. No one could have really stopped me because I somehow told myself that they didn't understand how much better THEY would be without me. It seems like a differen person to me now, I could never imagine thinking that now and for the past 25 years. But it made sense to me then. If he directly does threat, well then it is a different story of course. You can then call 911 and they can get him and try to hold him. If people are really serious though, they will lie and say they are not a threat and just be let out.
    You are doing all the right things in my humble opinion, and if you are wondering if there are other things you can do maybe call a suicide line or something and see what recommendations they have. Maybe they have a number you can get for your daughter to give to him, like was said before if she can get him to promise her if he ever gets to that point he must call her and maybe add a crisis line.

    Just thoughts, I am so sorry for your worry, you are very kind. I hope he can get past this. Suicide really is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. It just doesn't feel that way when you are depressed sometimes.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Can't help but wonder if he was ever treated for depression. Sounds like his parents aren't likely to have sought professional help for him. on the other hand taking medications might impact his sports scholarship possibilities and therefore be considered a "no no" for his future.

    Do the two of them do "fun" activities with groups of people or do they spend most of their time alone? That is significant in my humble opinion. I know that Jumper is a "people person" but does he share her enthusiasm when they are together? Remembering first love I know that my boyfriend and I relished our time all alone and hope that is not the case with them. If "we" had not both been actively involved in clubs, sports and parties I think there would have been massive codependence.

    Being depressed and being suicidal are, as you know, quite different. Although the suggestion to casually mention your medications shouldn't hurt. on the other hand, he is a minor. He would not likely seek help all on his own due to financial reasons, possible sports reasons and mostly because his parents would have to be involved. I don't see how he could/would use you as an example. My reaction to your post is that Jumper needs to be aware of how they need to share happy times so she doesn't end up feeling responsible for his state of mind. This is an unfolding story and only time is going to tell. Hugs DDD
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You could call his school counselor. Just give her a heads up that he has been expressing a lot of depressed, pre-suicidal thoughts but that his parents have not been open to your input.
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think JJJ is right on...

    That's what we have done when we have gotten wind of kids talking suicide. The counselor has the power to talk to the child, notify the parents, etc.

    Hopefully, that young man can get some help soon!
  11. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Haven't we found out that in some states the parents don't need to be involved. Example: running from Residential Treatment Center (RTC), refusing treatment. Shouldn't it go both ways. Can't an almost 18 yr old get treatment without his parents?
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'll consider calling school if Jumper tells me he's thinking of suicide. They would be SHOCKED and may not believe me because he is seen as "perfect child." He tells NOBODY his problems...he has been brought up that you keep family business and personal problems to yourself. He has never told anyone about himself the way he has confided in Jumper. But if it was life or death, I'd tell them and his parents too. They DID get help for him when he was eight, but I'm not sure what the help involved. It could have been just at his church. Obviously, he made them think he was ok because they have no idea that he is still in that dark place. And, according to him, he has never climbed out of it...he has always been depressed.

    I *do* love him like another son. He is here so much and I appreciate his goodness and kindness toward Jumper. Jumper was sexually abused and right now wants nothing to do with sex (which I'm glad about because of her young age). The only reason she agreed to date him was because he promised never to push her sexually and he actually is a virgin too, and she tells me how respectful he is. She is lucky she found him too.

    As for mental health issues, he's going to be eighteen in two months. He CAN go for help without telling his parents. And we have a county mental health center here...I could just use my address to get him in. It wouldn't cost him much, if anything. I've had pretty good luck there. I'd like to see him in treatment before he goes to college because I'm afraid of what will happen when this small town boy is suddenly in one of those huge state universities, which is where he wants to go (and he should get in). I wonder if he'll ever start to self-medicate. Right now he doesn't even drink, but there is a lot of that in college.

    Depression is such a mean disease. You can't control when it hits you. You can't make it go away by yourself. You can only see the bad when you have it, and it robs you of all hope. I remember those horrible days of deep depression. Ugh. Never again.

    Buddy, I'm so sorry about your friend. Words can't express how sorry I am.

    Keista, they are mostly alone. Both of them, however, go to different schools and when they are not together, they are both in sports, and J. is an exceptional athlete. All the kids look up to him and he is captain of the football team. The problem is, his parents don't let him hang with them very often and he lives in the middle of nowhere. When I say the middle of nowhere, I mean the only homes anywhere near him belong to other family members who he does not confide in and doesn't seem to trust or be emotionally close to.

    You know what his parents would say if I told them? "This is all Jumper's fault!" Honest to God, they would. Even though J. told her that he may not even be here if it wasn't for her. How sad is it that he can't ask them for help?
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, THAT is part of the problem. All kids, but especially teenagers, need strong emotional bonds with caring adults. He doesn't have that.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am with JJJ, I think you need to call his school guidance counselor. Anytime anyone gets wind of any student even mentioning suicide it needs to be reported. Its just too big a risk. Maybe they can do a general class talk on depression and suicide prevention with a list of help available with the ever available open door to the school counselor.

    Suicide is just a word I dont think we can sit on. Plus, is Jumper really mature enough at 15 to handle it if her boyfriend did do something to himself?
  15. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    MWM, I agree with telling the counselor at school. First, you can't take chances like this. Secondly, it really can't become your issue and definitely shouldn't be Jumpers. You are getting really involved and concerned about this young man who you have no real ties to or control over and can't possibly know all his hx under the circumstances. I'd recommend staying focused on Jumper's well-being and that includes the emotional set-up of being 'the only person he talks to about his problems, depression, and suicidal ideations'. And I don't think she needs it on her shoulders to be the one he tells if he becomes serious about it. I get that it's better to tell a friend than noone at all, but Jumper can't be and shouldn't be his life-line. She's a kid and doesn't need this sort of emotional dependency on her. You don't need it on you either- relay the info to appropriate people then let it go. Teach Jumper to look out for her own eemotional needs and not take responsibility for another person's.
  16. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    If he is expressing his circumstances as depressing I think that's valid. He has real reasons to be depressed. If he has not mentioned suicide and is just saying "I'm down and you're the best thing in my life" I don't see any reason to involve his school counselors. In fact I think that might just make him feel more depressed that his "persona" is being messed with...and...it might undermine his sense of safety with Jumper.

    Knowing he has "a safe place to land" with Jumper and her family has got to be therapeutic for him. If you casually "reveal" that you take medications for depression and have found free help at the clinic or if your daughter tells him "X I'm sorry you are feeling depressed lately. My Mom has problems with depression and she goes to the free clinic to confidentially talk to a therapist and get medication. Perhaps you should consider that option as well." That shows concern, offers options and verifies that there are others who feel the same way. It also displays that she cares for his welfare.

    Obviously "suicide" is a whole different ball of wax. DDD
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'll carefully think about everything that everyone has said. Actually, he HAS said to Jumper that he is still suicidal and that if not for her he may not be here, but he has never said he was about to kill himself. I really don't think he'd tell her. Although I agree she doesn't need the stress, she doesn't seem to be stressed. She has had other friends who cut, feel deprssed, are sucicidal...this isn't the first time. Unfortunately, these are the times we live in...kids know too much too soon and deal with it. The last time her cutting friend let her friends know she was cutting, she told them all (the girl did) that she'd never speak to any of them again if they ever told anyone. The group of girls got together and decided that they HAD to tell the counselor and they did. She was angry for a while, but she got over it. I think she was secretly happy that they cared (she had a similarly awful family situation, much like J's).

    I will have another talk with Jumper and lay it out for her...the possibilities...see how she reacts. She is so mature that sometimes I forget she is only fifteen.

    I have to think about the counselor. I'm not sure that's a good solution considering that he has never had problems at school and his family may tell them it's baloney...and they own half the town. If it sounds bad enough I'd almost rather call social services and see what they tell me to do or if they will handle it. Right now he isn't actively suicidal...
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    School isnt going to call his parents. At least they shouldnt, not if they are any good. Maybe you should call the school and tell them you know of a student in the school that has mentioned suicide, is actively depressed, and you are worried about him but you do not want to give his name. You were wondering if they could give a seminar to the students about mental health and how to access it in this day and time. Might be worth a shot because I can bet he is not the only one in that school having those issues.
  19. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    If you DO talk to the counselor, be certain that he or she understands that you do NOT give them permission to release information as to where they got their information from. They should treat it as their own matter, not go to his mom and say "MWM told me yada yada yada". Be sure that the counselor understands that your input will not be appreciated and that if they are going to approach the parents they have to do so for their own reasons. They need to talk to J, and to J's friends if it's ok with J, then the parents. But they have to leave you out of it. Otherwise, the parents will turn the focus on you and still ignore J.
  20. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If he doesn't have a plan... then it isn't urgent.
    Urgent = tell whoever it takes to intervene.

    More important right now is that he knows Jumper's family is behind him - he is not "alone". Give him that "knot" at the end of his rope.
    For some of these kids, getting to College is a major positive - as in, they don't have parents breathing down their necks, so its actually possible to seek help. And most universities have a good support system that way, if you seek it out.