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Friend, Selfishness and Suicidal Threats...


love4life

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Hey there, I'm looking for some advice on how to handle my friend. Quick background summary: my friend has had this non-relationship with a guy for nearly 3 years. He was never committed to her, but she would bend over backwards to be with him, sleep with him, he would take advantage of her, she'd blow up at him for not treating her better, he'd tell her he's not looking for a relationship and she'd say she's done with him. Take all of that and repeat on a monthly basis, or so. Obviously, I and our other friends have counseled her along the way to move on, that he's not worth it and that he's manipulating her. She has never listened. As you can imagine, every time this happens, she ends up in hysterics. Her mental health is absolutely failing. She'll always say that she knows she needs to move on, needs to go to therapy, needs to get on anti-depressants, etc. etc. We support her and cheer her on. Then she never takes action.

 

It has, on a few occasions, gotten to the point where she's thrown out (via facebook messages or texts) suicidal threats to us, her friends, and then doesn't respond when we try to text, email or call. This puts us in a terrible position. It's scary and infuriating. One of these incidents happened Friday. She emailed us saying, "I'm going to take a bottle of sleeping pills. Here's Pat's number. Tell him I've killed myself." We reached out to her, but she didn't respond. Luckily, I had a free day, so I drove to her place to make sure she was okay. She was. She'd taken a couple sleeping pills, but no more. After spending a couple hours with her I asked her about that statement. Her response: "Oh, no, I wasn't going to kill myself. I just wanted Pat to think I was." Fast forward three days. Yesterday, she found out he was sleeping with another woman and called me in hysterics. I talked her through it and she went on to her evening play rehearsal. Later that evening, she FB messaged all of us saying she was going to take an entire box of sleeping pills. And, again, after that, she stopped responding to any of our attempts to reach out. So this time, I called 911. They went to her place, again she was fine. She texted me after they left to say she was fine but appreciated how much I cared. I asked her to please not vanish on us again if she puts out another suicidal threat. She said "I'm sorry, but I don't know who else to talk to about this stuff." I told her that we all care but that it's scary to your friend say she's going to take a box of pills and then you hear nothing. I asked her to please not say those things anymore. She didn't respond.

 

This morning she sent us all a message with another non-apology - the "I'm sorry, but..." approach. I told her I accept her apology but asked her to please promise to never make another suicidal threat and then not respond to our attempts to help, because it's scary for us. She never acknowledged that request, but continued messaging throughout out the day about the details of her conversations with Pat and, again, what she "needs" to do. At this point, I'm just completely pissed off. All I've said to her since is "I'm sure you'll figure out what to do." I feel she is being completely selfish and self-absorbed. I realize she is in distress, but she has been in this state regularly for nearly 3 years and won't do anything to change it. I don't even believe at this point that her latest "I'm done with him" is true.

 

Does anyone have any advice on whether I should bring it up again? Also, should I set boundaries at some point to let her know I don't want her to talk to me about this anymore? I've always been a people pleaser and I don't want to hurt her or think that I don't care, because I do. But I'm also beyond fed up and completely drained.

 

Thanks!

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What you need to do is never ever respond to her suicidal threats again ..never ...it is disgusting what she is doing to you all ...but you are all allowing it !!

 

tell her you have nothing to offer in the way of help or advice regarding this man and stop feeding her ...stop running to her ...stop allowing yourself to be dragged down by her .

 

you have been a lovely friend ..but now it has to stop .

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She is simply looking for attention.

Depending on her age...you might notify her parents.

Or tell her that if she does it again, you will call 911 again.

And she will be charged for the medics response...around $1,000!

Or...if they come out again...she could be subjected to a 72 hr psych evaluation at the local psychiatric hospital.

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Not only should you not respond to the suicide threats, but you need to stop supporting her during this non-relationship, too. It's partly your support which makes it bearable for her to continue it. With most of us, our first instinct is to want to be there for our friends through thick and thin, but she has abused your kindness and caring again and again - in the same way that this guy has repeatedly taken advantage of her.

 

Next time she starts on about how badly the guy's treating her, just refuse to listen. Tell her you're not prepared to hear it again; she already knows what she needs to do and that you'll support her if she does anything positive - but for now you're not hanging around to hear it.

 

Likewise the suicide threats. This is a very, very difficult one, I know... but if she threatens again, tell her that if her life is really that bad, you respect her decision. If necessary, give her the number of the Samaritans (or your local equivalent), but tell her that you've got nothing more to offer her and that you're not prepared to try. I had to do this once with a short lived relationship where the guy threatened to kill himself if I ended it - I went around for several days feeling my head was about to explode, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. (He didn't even attempt suicide, by the way!)

 

When she starts to say she's sorry (again), you can tell her: 'Right - you've repeatedly frightened us to death with your suicide threats, bored us to tears with this relationship where you know exactly what to do, and you keep on doing it. That's OK, we were there for you. But STOP SAYING YOU'RE SORRY!'

 

If you do all these, be prepared for an initially quite explosive reaction; I doubt she'd actually carry through the suicide threat, but she'll undoubtedly try to initiate some more drama. Let her! If it helps, remember that suicide, or threatening suicide, is an incredibly aggressive thing to do; nearly as aggressive as attempting to kill or threatening someone else. There is a very angry young woman underneath all the victim game-playing, and she may even need professional help to work her way through it.

 

Whatever, it is neither your responsibility nor your problem. For your own sanity, set very clear boundaries and stick by them. She may do something constructive about her situation; she probably won't. This kind of behaviour is going to damage you very badly in the long term if you let it continue.

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As some one who has lost 3 people to suicide, it is a serious thing. You should be mad that she would say that. Some one close to me said on the phone they were going to kill themselves while in hysteria, hung up on me. Wouldn't answer any call backs, well i drovethere, fast, the door was locked no answer, i kicked it in off the hinges to find them sitting on the couch looking at me like i was crazy. I was furious, do not let any one use that cop out excuse

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You need to do exactly what you did and all of your friends as well, when she threatens suicide you call 911 and let them deal with it. After a few false reports she's liable to find herself in legal trouble and/or when she sees that you all no longer are jumping then she'll stop it. Frankly, she's hoping one or more of you will drag this "Pat" into it all and she's using her friends to do that. It's pointless and it's a bit sick and disgusting too given that when someone really needs help people tend to think it's just the same sort of drama like what she's doing. It's not acceptable and you and your other friends will have to draw the line somewhere. But still I know you're worried that it will be real one time, so do the right thing and just call 911. Have your friends do so as well. If she complains or says anything then you explain that if she needs help that's the best way for her to get it. Stand firm in that's what you're going to do. After the paramedics and/or police respond a time or two and she tells them she's fine she'll likely get chewed out and knock it off. And if she's really serious they will be there to get her to a hospital and can give her the treatment she needs right there on the spot to help her where you or your friends may not know exactly what to do and valuable time gets lost in now having to call the paramedics anyways.

 

And stop getting yourself in a lather about it all. You see the pattern, you can keep running to her and listening to her until the end of time and it isn't going to change anything. You are all frankly enabling her behavior just as much as if she were an alcoholic and you were feeding her drinks instead of drama. So tell her she needs to seek out a professional to deal with it since none of you have been able to help her in that area then switch the topic. She's also, dare I say it, getting a rush out of watching her friends fall all over themselves to help her and it's actually kind of mean. So quit playing, there's nothing you can do really and a professional should be handling her mental issues anyways, not her burned out, burned too often friends. BTW this is a really good example of the boy or girl who cried wolf.

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Like a toddler who throws it's tantrums, she has learned that going to the extremes gets her the attention she wants. It is tiresome, it is draining and I'll put money on the fact that when you do indulge her and meet up with her she couldn't care less about your life and what is going on with you.

The universe revolves around her and in her head you are simply sat at home waiting for her next problem - because nothing could be more exciting for you right??

 

Calling 911 is the right thing to do. If you have her parents contact numbers, call them as well. In fact, every single time she texts or calls you about her suicide, do not respond. Simply get the police involved.

Ignore a tantrum for long enough and she will soon realise that it just doesn't work. I don't think you can get any more extreme than suicide, so she has used all of her outlets.

However I do think calling the police every time she threatens is better than not. This woman craves attention so badly that I wouldn't put it past her to push further and actually do more damage to get you to respond - in the heat of the moment she may just take all of those pills one day simply because she needs the attention and sympathy.

I also think getting her parents involved in this will also work wonders. Get in contact with them with whatever means and let them know that their daughter is constantly threatening suicide and it is getting to be too much.

She clearly has no empathy for what she is putting her friends through - her only priority in life is getting Pat's attention.

 

At the very least I would buy her "Why Men Marry es" [EDIT: see female dog :S] or any other mainstream relationship self help book that might push her in the right direction on the basic skills on how to treat men and relationships. She obviously does not deem your advice credible, maybe reading it in a book will work wonders. But who knows, you just can't help some people.

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Thank you, everyone! All of you have given me some great insights.

 

As for the suicide threats, I reached out one last time on Monday and told her she hadn't fully addressed the issue. She responded, saying she won't make those threats again, but would come to me or one of her other friends to actually talk through her feelings and not just vanish on us. She also said she would never actually kill herself because she wouldn't leave her family and friends to pick up the pieces.

 

I am very aware that I need to put some distance between her and me re: the complaining about the guy. I have never been good at establishing boundaries (I'm one of those, "but what if I hurt his/her feelings?" types), but I know I have to do it. I can't find it now, but one of you mentioned telling her I won't listen to anymore of the dramatics, but will be there to support her through the positive steps she makes. This is what I'm trying to do but I think I'm vague in the way I communicate that, so it doesn't get through to her. That's something for me to work on, clearly.

 

Our last exchange went like this:

 

Her: What's wrong with me? What does this new girl have that I don't have? And why did he keep coming back to me?

Me: "Jane", we've been through this. There's nothing wrong with you. It's "Pat" that's the problem.

Her: But why does he always choose chubby blondes with nary a brain in their head(s)? Am I too "ethnic" and intelligent for him?

Me: Who knows? Maybe he was dumped by a chubby blond in high school.

Her; Thank you for getting a smile out of me today.

 

Is humor an acceptable way to handle this? For me, anyway, it feels like if I lighten the mood and she comes back with more stuff, it'll be easier to gently communicate my boundaries.

 

She is actually a very good friend most of the time and does care and listen when I need a shoulder to lean on, but when it comes to her situation with "Pat" she loses sight of everything else. I was so angry in my first post that I might have presented her selfishness a little too heavily. Someone had asked about age and, well, she's 38...goes to show you some people never grow out of the high school dramatics!

 

CeeLambrini, funny you mention that book: she's read it! I tried to get her to read Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and Don Miguel Ruiz's "The Four Agreements" among others (I'm always reading some self-help/mindfulness-themed book) but she said she needed something "funny".

 

Oh, and she's taking "Pat" to her therapist on Monday to discuss how he can stop leading her on so they can officially break up. This makes me and our mutual friends all want to slam our heads against a brick wall because if you're broken up, you don't go to therapy together, you move on and work on yourselves individually.

 

Anyway, thank you again for all the thoughtful responses: I'm glad I have this space to come to when I need help!

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