My Stepson Apparentley Attempted to Kill Himself

He’s currently in the psych ward at the hospital two states away from us. Found this all out on facebook. I talked to him two days ago, but apparently, I couldn’t help. I just told his dad (he had been taking a nap.) This is just awful - I don’t know what I did or didn’t do or what I could have done - and his dad is breaking down. We haven’t heard from his mother either - he’s 33 - she may not even know. They don’t have a great relationship.

What do I freaking do??? I’m like the only person he really talks to anymore, and I don’t know what to say - and he’s not responding right now (since he’s in the hospital.) Can’t tell his stepbrother - can’t talk to his dad about it (since he’s freaking right now) - my mom is praying - I just feel kind of lost. What did I do wrong???

You likely didn’t do anything wrong at all. Try not to worry about blame now, just make sure you’re available if he wants to talk. Let him guide the conversation as he’s probably feeling pretty damn awkward and certainly depressed right now.

When my brother first tried, he even denied that’s what he was trying to do, even with both arms heavily bandaged. Picking him up at the ward was one of the most awkward and draining events in my life, but I did my best to put my feelings aside and think about his. Remember that people cope with these things in their own way

I’m very sorry to hear this happened.

I’m so sorry to hear of this, but you’re not to blame. I mean, he’s 33. I’m sure you did all you felt you could do. Try not to tear yourself apart.

What can you do? It doesn’t sound like you can’t really do a lot, if he’s two states away. Help his Dad get through, is probably the best thing, and you’re very likely doing that already. He must be torn apart, poor man.

It must be a terrible shock. Is there anyway you could get to visiting him? Do you talk to anyone else in his family? Can you find out, from them, if he’s up for visitors yet?

elbows, I’ll find out tomorrow - I’m digging up phone numbers and stuff now, and have a friend who will drive me if necessary. Trying to get husband through this right now too - he’s walking the dog - he needs some space right now. I’ll update when I find out anything.

I’m a new kid here, but I hope you don’t me weighing in.

You didn’t do anything wrong. I enjoy anxiety and major depression, and when it hits, there’s nothing anyone can do to help. It’s not your fault. It’s not his fault. It’s not his father’s fault. It’s the depression’s fault.

What you can do is be there for him. Talk to the doctors and see what he needs. Does he need financial support to see a shrink? Can you help with that?

And tell him you love him.

And make sure you get some help for yourself, too. This is big thing to have thrown at you.

Don’t do this.

Seriously. This is not your fault. When people reach the point of actually making an attempt, they’re in their own world. Nothing you did or didn’t do pushed the guy over the edge…he was already there.

Trust me, I’ve experienced severe depression deep enough that I had desperately wanted to not wake up from sleep - and that with a good family and a loving boyfriend. Decades later, I’m thankfully still around, and the BF is my husband. It’s not you.

This exactly. It’s not your fault. Speaking as a sufferer of depression I completely agree.

Be kind to yourself and your husband and be there for him if he wants to talk. That’s all you can do.

Nothing. You didn’t cause this and you can’t fix it. It’s not your fault.

Call the hospital, talk to him, see if he’ll give permission for his doctors to talk to you about what kind of care they think he’ll need after he gets out. That’s probably the best you can do to help him.
As so many others said, it’s not your fault that this happened.

First things first, tell him that you are very glad he is still alive but sorry he is in so much pain that he doesn’t want to be. That pain just got a hell of a lot worse and will be for a while as now everyone knows and will be watching. Acknowledging that it is really hard to survive a serious attempt is something few folks do but it can be really helpful. Maybe give a read so you understand a bit better. Remember you couldn’t make a difference before as you didn’t know.

ETA: check to see if he gave up his home or gave away his stuff etc. Some folks clean everything out first, he may need help to get stuff back or start over.

This was NOT your fault. This did not happen because of something you did or didn’t do. There was nothing you could have done to prevent this.

What Anne and the rest said. I deliberately tried to not wake up from sleep once. It’s not you.

Thinking this was somehow your fault is exactly as ridiculous as thinking the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 or Hurricane Katrina or the way that jerk in front of you on the way home from work was driving was somehow your fault. You just don’t have that kind of power.* You can’t control other people’s behavior or feelings. You couldn’t have done anything to prevent his trying to kill himself, and you can’t do anything to stop his father from freaking out.

*If you do somehow happen to have that kind of power, do you think you could do something about my fridge refusing to cool to below 40 degrees?

Whatever you do, avoid making this about you. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this short of tying him to a bed, and that’s a)illegal, and b) not a life worth living anyway. Mental illness and suicide impulses are internal, and different people have WILDLY varying reactions to the same stimulus/events. So he could have been driven over the edge by something that another person would either not have noticed, or just brushed off (or maybe there was just a persistent refrain inside his head that compelled him to do it). Either way, there’s nothing you could have done to anticipate this.

Don’t ask him what you did wrong. Don’t get mad and yell at him. DO ask him if there’s anything you can do to help. DO let him know that you are so, so glad he’s still alive, but it’s okay to admit that he really, really scared you. But don’t be surprised if he attempts again or doesn’t want to talk about it. A failed suicide attempt means he’s dealing with a lot of shame and guilt right now. You can avoid making him feel worse by being gentle and unselfish, but you CAN’T make him not want to die.

He’s going to be committed for awhile after something like this, of course. Do you know if he was in therapy or taking antidepressants already? If not, hopefully he will get motivated to start. But even if he doesn’t, that’s not on you at all.

I’m really sorry to hear that this has happened to your stepson. You obviously care about him a lot, that really shines through in your post.

Adding another data point to reinforce that **you are not responsible for another adult’s actions. **

I hope you are able to get to him, even though he is two states away. If you don’t know what to say, just being there at his side will help.

A lot of people who have a mental illness, like he does, try to hide it from people. There’s still some social stigma around mental illnesses. And in some cases, the illness itself will make you think things like, “if people knew I was like this, they wouldn’t want anything to do with me”.

Well, I talked to a very nice nurse on his floor - he wouldn’t talk now, but did say that h’d call me back later today via the very nice nurse. Thanks, everyone, for your advice. I’ll see if he wants me to come up - I’d do anything for him.

His dad is cleaning windows - that’s what he does when he’s upset - when he comes downstairs, I’ll ask him to read through this thread - he can use some of your wisdom too.

ETA - Rachellelogram, he wasn’t in therapy previously - I truly hope NOW he gets the help he needs. I think him being there for awhile would be the best thing for him - and he really does need medication. We’ve believed this for a couple years - and deep down, I guess I know it isn’t my fault, but still - it’s my boy. And feelings don’t always make sense (obviously). :slight_smile:

He’s out of the hospital. It was a 72 hour observation based on someone on Facebook (one of his friends I guess) calling the POLICE based on one of his comments and they just let him go about half an hour ago. The hospital. Not the police.

I’m so glad this is over - thanks you guys - you’ve been wonderfully supportive - and I did tell him that I was concerned and he’s asked me to help him find some resources in his area that he might be able to talk to because he agrees he IS quite depressed. I’ll be working on that this afternoon.

Thanks again, everyone. I’m so glad it wasn’t as bad as I had initially thought.

How heartbreaking :(.

But to answer your question: not a damn thing - you didn’t do ANYTHING wrong.

Do you know if your stepson has any kind of medical power of attorney in place so that the docs can talk with you, or his mother, or someone? I mention this because when my nephew made one of his attempts (yeah, multiple, the earliest being at age ten), the first attempt after his 18th birthday, the hospital legally couldn’t disclose *anything to the parents. They were ultimately able to persuade him to sign sign such a document. I suppose the alternative would have been to get a court order but that takes time and is expensive.