My friend just told me she tried to kill herself last week. Now what?

My friend is disabled, is in pain every day, and has been depressed for a long time. I didn’t realize she was that depressed, though.

She’s on antidepressants and sees a therapist from the free clinic once a month. I know she has an appointment today. She’s not on Medicaid yet because they decided she wasn’t disabled, so she has no resources to pay for medical bills. She has applied for and was rejected for SSDI and SSI, and she has an attorney who filed an appeal, but her hearing is a good 18-24 months out. If she wins, she’s automatically eligible for Medicaid, but that’s a long time from now.

She lives with her parents, but they don’t really have any money. She’s worried about bankrupting them, although I keep telling her they’re not responsible for her medical bills. And she’s basically judgment-proof anyway. And she really needs to make her mental health her top priority.

With all that background info in mind, I’m not sure where to go from here. She told me she tried to kill herself last week. She says she’s not planning on trying again. And she might feel that way right now (or she might be lying to me), but she could change her mind at anytime.

Should I call her therapist? If she winds up in the hospital over this, she and her family might never forgive me. If she doesn’t wind up in the hospital but knows I betrayed her confidence, she might never forgive me. But if she kills herself, I won’t be able to live with myself knowing I could have told someone who might have been able to help. Should I tell her parents? Her mom is a high-strung ball of anxiety, and I think she would inadvertently make my friend’s mental health worse.

My mom killed herself when I was a teenager. You’d think I’d know exactly what to do now, but I’m not sure. I’m open to suggestions.

When you say pain are you talking physical pain or psychological pain? For physical pain there are a lot of different types of medicine available and if she has it she should see a pain specialist if her general doctor can’t help.

I think I would talk to her therapist and see if she couldn’t get an extra appointment to see her now. I think talking to her mother would make the mother more upset.

I think you should probably spend more time with your friend, showing you care, trying to do fun things together.

I don’t want to give away too many details, but she’s in daily physical pain. So far, it’s been resistant to treatment. The cause of her pain can’t be cured, but it can theoretically be managed.

On top of the depression, she also has anxiety and PTSD. I knew she was miserable, understandably so, but it didn’t realize it had gotten that bad.

Fuck it, I left a message with the therapist’s receptionist. I knew they couldn’t tell me anything or even confirm my friend is a patient there, but the receptionist said I did the right thing and thanked me for calling.

My friend is going to hate me. Someone please tell me I did the right thing.

You did the right thing. No question.

You did do the right thing. You could have saved her life. It’s not an easy decision to make, but I’m sure you would rather her be alive and angry at you than deceased. You are a good friend.

Thanks, I really needed to hear that. And I would definitely rather have her alive and hating me than dead.

I would’ve done the same thing. You did the right thing. Why would your friend confide in you and expect you to do nothing? If she ends up being mad at you, you still did the right thing.

Better a live enemy than a dead friend.

Agreed.

You did the right thing. You’re a good friend.

You did the absolute right thing!

Thanks, y’all. I haven’t heard from her, but whatever happened with her appointment, I hope there’s a plan to get her the help she needs.

I do think some part of her wanted me to tell her therapist because I don’t think my friend could have done it on her own. Even if she’s not thinking clearly right now, I think she still knows she needs help.

Her telling you was her asking for help. You did the best thing.

As a thread seeking advice, I’m moving this to IMHO.

I talked to my friend. She doesn’t know I said anything. Her therapist is apparently satisfied she’s not going to hurt herself right now, and they’ve made a plan to get her more help. I’ll be there for her every step of the way.

You are a great friend! You did the right thing! I’m the survivor of others’ suicides - you did the best thing!

I’m really not trying to say it wasn’t the right thing to do in this case, it may very well have been, but just in general you do have to be really careful about doing something like that. It’s not just about making them mad, but depending on the person/situation, it can just alienate them from their doctor or other supportive people (like you) and that’s no good either. My mom pulled that once, but I wasn’t suicidal at all, she’s just really (REALLY) into meddling and worrying. So she called my doctor and said who-knows-what to him. So I quit going to that doctor, talked to her even less for a while, and to this day (this was several years ago) I won’t tell her who my doctor is.

If possible, seeing if you can get the person to agree to let you go with them to talk to their doctor or call a suicide hotline or something like that might be a better option. There’s a reason doctors can’t report you for saying you tried to commit suicide last week but aren’t going to try again. People need to be able to trust that they can confide in someone unless it’s so urgent that there’s really no other choice.

Blackberry, the difference between your situation and this one is that you did not try to kill yourself last week.

Now, if Inter Alia were just making crap up and decided to leave a message with the receptionist for shits and giggles, that would be one thing. That’s not what happened here. Inter Alia is not meddling. They are genuinely, sincerely trying to help their friend.

Inter Alia, you did absolutely the right thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I know, man, read what I wrote.

Going “behind someone’s back” and “reporting” them (how many people are likely to see it even if they really do need help) should be a very last resort. And maybe it was in this case, I said that. And then I said IF you can try to get them to agree to get help instead, that would be better.

What do you think would happen if every single call to a suicide hotline resulted in the caller being told on to someone, even if they didn’t have a suicide plan?