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Something’s not right

sopa
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Steps to take for a serious-sounding but ultimately empty suicide threat

Seeking some advice for who I can call if my partner says he’s going to die by suicide (he is safe).

 

My partner survived a suicide attempt 11 years ago and was diagnosed in hospital with bipolar, which he now manages with medication and therapy. His sister is a mental health professional and his family is supportive but living far away. During fights or moments of high emotion he’s occasionally threatened suicide, but hasn’t meant it. Tonight was different.

 

(Before I continue — my partner is safe and okay tonight and the plan to die that he outlined to me wasn’t something he intended on following.)

Earlier tonight he told me he’d hurt himself already, and described in detail his intention to die tonight and how he planned to do it. He was also furious at me. He has had bad experiences with the police, so instead of ringing 000 I immediately called CATT, but they told me to get the police to do a welfare check. I texted my partner several times explaining what my worry was and saying I wanted to call someone for help. He said he’d never speak to me again if I rang his sister or parents. I told him I had no choice but to call the police unless he told me he wasn’t going to die by suicide. He repeatedly ignored that, so I called them, and they visited him. He rang me after they left and said he hadn’t hurt himself and wasn’t planning to.

 

I feel sad, relieved, angry, manipulated, helpless. Mostly sad.

 

I know he will get like this again at some stage. But who can help? What do I do?

 

Do I call his family, knowing he’ll be furious. Do I go to his house, knowing he won’t let me in. Do I call the police, who made him angry and left. Do I wait until business hours, hoping he’s bluffing, and call his GP. I had hoped CATT would do the welfare check — should I have lied on the phone and made things sound less hectic so they might have called him instead of referring to the cops? Could I have asked CATT to call my partner anyway?

 

My partner is furious with me for calling the police and says he will now never trust me again. Any help or advice for how to have a better outcome next time he’s this heightened would be really appreciated. Thank you.

4 REPLIES 4

Re: Steps to take for a serious-sounding but ultimately empty suicide threat

Hey @sopa, thank you for sharing your experiences here with the community!

 

It sounds like you have been through a really tough time last night. You are demonstrating your strength and resilience in reaching out to your peers here on the Forums. It can be challenging caring for someone who is suicidal, and you acted in a very brave manner and showed your courage in a challenging situation. 

 

The decision you made was from a place of caring and support for your partner. To your knowledge, you were keeping them safe in the least abrasive way you could in the moment. You made a decision, and it was your best option. No one is responsible for keeping someone who is suicidal safe and all you can do is get them support if they disclose it. 

 

There is a carers support services Home | Carer Gateway and they may be another good place to connect for support for you. It's important to look after yourself as well as caring for someone else.

 

Thanks again for sharing your experiences with your peers!

 

Take care 

RiverSeal 

 

 

Re: Steps to take for a serious-sounding but ultimately empty suicide threat

Hey @sopa 

 

Not only do I think you did the right thing, I think it was the only thing you could have done given the situation. My friends know that if they call me for help, help will be provided and this could very well mean calling the Acute Care Team or the police/ambulance. For me, at times when I haven't drawn this clear boundary things have gotten pretty messy quickly. It's an unfair and unrealistic expectation to tell you he could do something and then not expect you to act on that. It's a perfectly valid boundary to let him know that if he threatens to harm himself then he can expect you to act on that. It's better that he be upset and alive than the alternative. And setting clear boundaries can help alleviate some of the stress you feel in these situations.  

Re: Steps to take for a serious-sounding but ultimately empty suicide threat

@sopa  Thank you for sharing. I think you better tell his sister first about this and make his family aware of these incidents. Let your partner to not to know about that. Because his family should be aware that. and may be they will care more than they do. And also better be contact his all action and make sure he is safe every time. May be he want let you in if you go on that time but I'm sure he wont keep you out for long. So best is to give a try . May be that will be a reason for him to forget about suicide.

Re: Steps to take for a serious-sounding but ultimately empty suicide threat

Hi @sopa 

 

I'm sorry you and your partner are going through this. I understand that trust is an important part of a relationship, but threatening harm to either yourself or to each other is a strong boundary breach and indicator that serious action is required. Both parties in the relationship deserve to feel safe, heard and respected. You acted out of love and care. If this is occurring but there is no clear steps to resolve or talk it out, then it may continue and worsen. 

 

Recognising that this is a shared boundary within the relationship could mean that your partner will understand his behaviour and be willing to seek assistance to work out a plan, ie if he starts to feel like that, working out what both of your next steps will be and putting the supports in place for both of you.  

 

Below is a link to a resource for you. They may have further insights into how to approach the subject with your partner. 

 

https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/worried-about-someone/looking-after-yourself-when-supporti...

 

Also, please look after yourself. It can be quite isolating when trying to protect someone else's mental health, so be sure to reach out for yourself. You're doing the best you can x 

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