She's road tripping with a suicidal friend??

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WNC Gal, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    My 18 year old freshman was suicidal/cutting/bulimic from age 13-15... hospitalized many times, and placed in residential psychiatric treatment facilities for at least 18 months.. but for past 3 years, has been doing VERY well... no medications, no depression and appears to be a successful freshman in college (about 2 hours from home). Absolutely no psychiatric issues other than test anxiety in the past 3 years.

    She just broke up with her wonderful boyfriend of 2 years (who a senior in high school), but shortly before she did, was contacted by a friend from school about "Tom" - a friend of hers from college who was having issues. He was threatening suicide, did take sleeping pills and alcohol and was in acute hospital setting within past few weeks. I'm not supposed to know about any of this - her ex-boyfriend shared this with me because he is concerned that SHE is spiraling down due to being around Tom. He has shared a few txts from her that say she was there when this kid threatened to kill himself, she was BEGGING him to get help and trying to distance herself from the situation but he was keeping her around...

    Now she calls me tonight to ask for "permission" to go on a 4 day road trip to Florida with Tom... I spoke to the family friend (a 50ish mom) in Florida where they will be staying and she assures me the kids will follow rules and be watched over. I spoke to the mom but did not confront her about the recent suicidal stuff because a) violates boyfriends confidence and b) she might not know? c) it might not be true???. She DID say that our kids share some of the same issues. But assures me he's a "good kid", etc.

    I'm in a position of being somewhat TERRIFIED that she is being manipulated by this kid. She told her ex-boyfriend just today via txt that she doesn't want him to see her "destroying herself like this". :(

    She's 18. She will go unless I can a) talk her out of it - which at this point seems impossible. b) find some legal means to do so.

    I'm still dancing around the fact that I know this kid just threatened to kill himself within a few weeks ago because it WILL destroy her trust in telling her ex-boyfriend anything as a friend. In fact, if I keep pushing it, she might stop telling anyone anything. :(

    Any ideas ???
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello WNC. Having just read your post, I imagine there will be others along later or tomorrow to give you some sage advice. Although I have no real practical advice to give you, what I can offer is something which has worked for me when I am faced with issues which seem to defy reason and a logical solution. It is something I read long ago that Albert Einstein did whenever he found himself at a loss for answers, solutions, the solving of problems, etc. He said he would go take a nap, or empty his mind of all distractions (perhaps meditation), go for a walk, do something entirely removed from the problem. Invariably, an answer, a solution, the right way out would bubble up from his unconscious, often something unusual and yet perfect. I've found when I am fearful, (you mentioned you were terrified, and certainly you have every reason to feel that way!) it is impossible for me to think clearly. Hence, Einstein's way. I send you HUGS and prayers that the perfect solution finds you.
  3. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    Thanks for that recoveringenabler ! There are more details that I know such as her telling ex-boyfriend that she's scared, this situation is "messed up"... and trying to get his parents notified so she wouldn't be "responsible" for his suicide attempt, but then he "got better", but seems to keep luring her in. There is no way I can let my daughter go on a road trip with a guy she is NOW claiming is wonderful, fun, smart and ridiculously fun to be with when four days ago she was scared, thinking he had killed himself, and wanted SPACE from him to stabilize her own emotions. I am getting caffeinated and driving to her campus tonight. Not sure what to do at that point, probably sleep in my car until early early morning and then call her and the boy's mom and figure it all out. Wish me luck.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    WNC Gal

    There are moments when "confidences" need to be brought to the light. Although one has to be very careful when doing it, especially if you don't want to reveal your source. (in this case it might be best not to since the sources is her ex) My kids never got away with much because dear ol' Mom just plain has too many such sources, and none hesitate to call me when they're concerned. As adults, my kids still have no clue who most of my sources are. Although they are finally understanding this is a small town, my sources are just as likely to be a total stranger as someone I know depending.

    I'd express concerns over the trip with this boy. difficult child may feel she's "helping" him, and you know how us females can be about that sort of thing. Helping can be good, BUT going on a road trip with someone who is obviously mentally unstable is NOT a wise decision. And yeah, you're probably going to have to reveal you have some knowledge of the situation. (I'd leave the "source" wide open and not tell her who it was, could be a concerned friend from school.......whatever) But if nothing else, I'd be stressing the, Honey what are you going to do should he become so unstable as to need admitted and there YOU are stuck in Florida with no way home?? (and I'd stress the NO WAY HOME, because I"d not rescue her from her own decision)

    At 18, there is legally not a darn thing you can do to stop her. About all you can do is point out the many faults to this trip and how it could possibly go wrong in so many ways with her left holding the bag, so to speak.

    Then it's up to her. Unfortunately 18 yr olds make foolish decisions, even ones that are stable and have been for a while. That she wants to help her friend is normal. What she doesn't understand is that she does not have the experience or the training to help her friend properly. If he slipped over the edge on such a trip and committed suicide she would forever blame herself.

    Mostly? I stay out of my grown kids business. They have to make mistakes the same way I did. The only time I open my mouth? Is when they're in danger, either personal or of messing up their life to the point that repair might not be possible. After I've said what I have to say.......well, then it's up to them.

    As the parent of grown children we take on an advisory role, which we don't really get to use often if we're smart.

  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    If two people who were their age wanted to take a trip anywhere across state lines? I'd have a problem with it.

    The fact that your daughter has absolutely NO history or knowledge in dealing with ANYONE at ANY TIME in her life that has been suicidal is the most scary thing to me.

    Too many scenarios play out in MY head of what could happen. Since you probably can't stop her from going with him? Educate her. Tell her you'll allow her to go, but have her talk to a suicide prevention counsleor with YOU present so that you BOTH can bring up SCENARIOS, questions and talk it over reasonably. If she's MATURE enough to ride as a nurse/counselor/therapist for someone who is SUICIDAL - truely suicidal and not just playing on her sympathies or a manipulative man? Then she will WELCOME all the advice and help she can get in SAVING HIS LIFE -and you will have all the satisfaction of knowing that you did everything you could to arm her with wisdom and a GOOD WORKING GPS, AAA trip ticks and a WELL-DEFINED ROUTE NOT TO BE DEVIATED FROM. And she'll call in - every hour and let you know what mile marker, and town they're at - so you KNOW they're safe -emphasis on THEY ARE SAFE.

    OTHERWISE the trip is off - and she's NOT GOING.

    This daughter of yours is an exceptional person to want to help another, but her naive bone is no where near done growing - he could have a knife, he could have a gun, he could stop and jump off a bridge and these are ALL things that while a Daddy can say - HAD YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THIS MAN doing XYZ? A suicide prevention counselor or HOTLINE - person could say - YES this really happens and better chance she'Learning Disability (LD) believe it from THEM.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911

    and i wouldn't hold my breath on the GPS the AAA tripticks and the calls every hour - BUT - I WOULD insist she talk to someone about what to do in the event of with a qualified suicide prevention counselor and you present to ask questions and play out scenarios. Suicide is NOTHING to play with and at 18 and not so worldly - one incident could ruin her life or land HER in therapy forever.
  7. Tiapet

    Tiapet Old Hand

    I have been placed in a very similiar situation many times with my 20 yo difficult child/easy child. Fortunately we are close enough that she tells me things like this on her own "most" often. Sometimes not so. She will come to me seeking advise for friends in situations like this and your situation sounds exactly like one that is happening now with a friend of hers (if your daughter wasn't 18 I'd wonder if it was yours since the locale is right).

    My advise to her and would be to anyone would be is to tell. When it's dangerous that is always my advise. I don't care if my daughter gets mad at me but I know in the long run if I have protected her or potentially saved her life (and in one case I did), then I know I've done the right thing.

    You don't have to reveal your source. I know that might be hard depending on your daughter because some will put pressure on your or be smart enough to figure it out. If you can go to the boys parents, even better.

    The one thing I do have going for me, and I don't know if you do, is that my daughter lives under my roof. There are certain rules she must follow even as an adult. Additionally, if what ever she is doing (or undertaking) is somehow going to or might involve me in some way, I have some say in it.

    Another thing I have learned from experience is that "family friend" can say all the right things but you don't always really know of whom you are speaking to on the telephone. Do you really know that you can trust this person and what may or may not be going on?

    For me, in your post, I saw enough red flags that I would definitely be trying to find a way to eagerly pursuade her not to go and confront daughter about what's going on. If she was trying to distance herself from him she's already apparently sucked in to far that she's agreed to go on this trip. by the way, just why is he an ex to begin with??
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    She's 16? Mmm... There are so many liability issues here that I wouldn't even touch with a ten foot pole. Putting that aside...

    There's probably not anything that you can do about it, and it's probably best to work with the other mom than to fight it.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    She's 18 now, Witz....I think, DDD
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you've come up with a plan. Crossing fingers that it is successful. Like Hound I had "sources" that allowed me to bring up conversations about potential problems. To this day my adult difficult children still wonder how I "knew" so much stuff. I'm taking the 5th. On the other hand when I had an inkling something was going on I would bring it out in the open using whatever means was necessary. My biggest source was my own ears but they still don't kow that. DDD
  11. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    Thank you for all of your posts. I did drive in middle of the night to her dorm a few days ago and camped out so I could talk to her in person and gauge her emotional state. The HUGE factor in this is not only that I had major concerns about her being involved with and traveling with a recently suicidal 18 year old boy (who I had not previously met), was that her ex-boyfriend was communicating to me that my own daughter seemed to be slipping into a depression, was apathetic, expressing thoughts of worthlessness and was skipping class in addition to suddenly having an intense relationship with a suicidal kid.

    So.. I knew very well how to handle this situation when she was only 14... take her to be evaluated! But now she is 18 and I knew it would be tricky. Indeed we spent hours that morning discussing it all. Numerous times she was ready to write me off and tell me to stay out of her business. She is supremely intelligent and capable of rationalizing and arguing to compel me to believe her (which I recognize). She told me yes, she had a brief emotional dip, but had sought a therapist and nutritionist at college (her ex-boyfriend tells me she had told HIM she hadn't yet been able to get to a therapist). She denied being depressed, skipping classes, etc. She denied being nervous about being around "Tom"... although several days prior she had been txting her ex-boyfriend that she was "scared" and it was a messed up situation. She kept reiterating that she did not HAVE to tell me she was taking the trip - that MOST kids would not be honest with their parents, but she was! So why penalize her and deny her going on this wonderful stress-relieving quick trip to the beach?? And that MOST kids are doing drugs and drinking at school but she is NOT... that I need to trust her ! She was even angry at first that I drove to her school, and said it showed a lack of trust on my part to recognize her as a capable "adult" who needs to take care of herself. At this point, we reached an impasse.... if I explicitly told her she could NOT go on the trip OR if I made a bold and perhaps involved legal move to have her evaluated, she would "never" forgive me and it would seriously damage our relationship. IF I let her go on the trip, I would be VERY nervous, but she would have means to prove to me that she was truly fine, reliable and trustworthy.

    I insisted on meeting with "Tom" and her before they left. Of course, I was all too aware that they could both be "snowing" me with the appearance of normalcy... but he seemed fine.. polite, respectful and reassuring me that she would be safe. I told them I would prefer that they not go at this time, but if they really felt it was a reasonable thing to do, do it. I realized (and I was speaking extensively with "Tom"'s mother at this point via phone also), that even if we "prevented" them from going on this planned trip to Florida (with supervision at the destination), that both of our kids have cars.. and they could jump in, drive away and do ANYTHING they wanted without our knowledge. The fact that they wanted (very badly) our approval and trust seemed important.

    So... she is now in FL with him. She HAS been wonderful about txting me their progress, whereabouts and activities multiple times a day.

    But.. and if any other parents have been in this situation - please advise!!) - I still have huge lingering fears that she MIGHT still be depressed/suicidal/tenuous. When your child is away at college- it is very hard to "monitor" their condition. Yes.. she would certainly call me with major health/financial/school issues. **But - she is also well aware that I would swoop in and check her in to a hospital IF she shared that she was suicidal. So... either she is trying to manage this on her own without having to get me involved... OR..... she is down the slippery slope of truly decompensating and can't/won't elicit my help.

    When I met with her, she certainly seemed cheery, lucid, positive and confident. But if she's faking it? Maybe she's better? Maybe she's practicing "fake it til you make it", OR maybe she is truly going downhill fast and won't share it...... ?????

    They are driving back from FL today... I am hoping and praying for her safe return to school. In my worst nightmares, they are on some "Thelma and Louise" type trip..... I will call the counseling center on her campus to see if they have any advice on monitoring her on an ongoing basis. Other than staying in frequent contact and keeping the lines of loving communication open, I'm not sure what else to do ?
  12. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi WNC Gal,
    Seems like you did all the right things. It's comforting in a way that she's been texting you along the way - but again, who knows what's really going on? You just have to let go at some point, if she's that strong-willed she'd have done it anyway. Let us know when she gets back. Thanks for updating.
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911



    Word a talk sometime soon = something that says - I'm not running your life, BUT I am HERE - anytime, I validate you are an adult, I respect you as a person - and I hope you understand why this is hard for me, but I'm trying and will continue to try my best as always. BUT we both agree that if red flags of suicide are shown - we agree XYZ.

    She's a very bright girl - I think she'd respect that.
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    in my opinion, you did good, about as well as you could given that she is an adult and your options are limited.

    The only thing I can truly advise is to be careful at taking the ex at his word without checking out the facts yourself. His motivation, just for being an "ex", is in question. Know what I mean?? Yep, he might still care for her and have only her best interest at heart. OR......he might not like seeing her hanging with a different guy and is either trying to make trouble....or seeing what he wants to see. (that she can't be happy if not with him)

    Only time will tell if she's being completely honest. That both of the kids wanted parental approval to me is a good sign. Her response to your showing up at school was in my opinion normal for someone of her age. I'd have told her that while you trust her, you simply felt that checking on her welfare was in order........that is a far cry from trying to live her life.

    It sounds to me that she is honestly doing pretty well at school. She was having issues and sought the appropriate help. And she's texting you to keep you updated while on her trip, which shows consideration for you.

    And honestly, the time has come where you let her take the reins as far as her mental health is concerned. Scarey? Oh heck yeah. But it is something she has to learn to manage on her own in order to maintain that stability.

    I do agree with Star though, I'd definitely sit her down and make it understood that you're there for her if she needs you and that certain actions will be taken if she shows signs of being suicidal. I have this agreement with Nichole to this an additional agreement that if I see her stability slipping that I'm to speak up and tell her. Because she doesn't always realize it's happening, although she has gotten quite good at recognizing the signs.