terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad night

On Thursday night (about 2 AM), I heard my daughter (12 years old) throwing up. Went up to her room to finally discover that she had taken an overdose of over the counter meds (calcium tablets, Tylenol, Tylenol PM and aspirin. On purpose. She had thrown up a ton but we called Poison Control and were told to take her to the ER. We did and it turns out that it was a good thing we did. Tylenol poisoning can cause irreversable liver damage. There is a meds treatment that can reverse the risk, but it has to be started within 12 hours of ingestion. We got it started within the window and she is going to be fine. We brought her home tonight. I’ll leave you all to imagine how we felt on Thursday – the most ghastly night of my life. I haven’t cried so much since – well, ever. Horrible, horrible, horrible. And, almost unbelievably – it could have been worse! The psych types we talked to feel that this was an attention-getting plot rather than a sincere attempt at ending her life – I suppose this is good news. She has an appontment for a followup psych eval on Tuesday. They also told us that this type of attention ploy is rather more common than usually thought. Do any of you medical types have an opinion on that? And, anyone who’s been in the same situation – any advice?


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

God Jess!!
I am so sorry to hear about this…I dont know what help I can be except tosay " I am here for you, and i care…"

keep us posted, good luck!

Kelli *

God Jess!!
I am so sorry to hear about this…I dont know what help I can be except tosay " I am here for you, and i care…"

keep us posted, good luck!

Kelli *

piss-poor spot for a double post! Sorry.


It does sound like an attention getting method. If it is any comfort, girls ( and women) usually “attempt” suicide, as a form of trying to get someone to notice them. Their choice is usually overdoses, because they can be revived and it won’t mar their body Ie, their beauty. ( except no one tells them that OD’ing and death in general, relaxes the sphincter muscle causing a big mess right after expiration.) Boys and men, are more serious about their intentions and carry through on them and usually hang themselves or use a gun. To be honest, I’ve never seen an obit for a teenage girl who committed suicide, but have seen lots for boys. (This info from a phsyc class my friend took. I learn vicariously.)

12 is a tough time. Not an adult, not a kid. No tits, but more like mosquito bites on the chest. FAce is breaking out and my parents suck because they won’t let me dress like Brittney Spears ( or whomever is popular.) Probably lost in the shuffle at school in the pecking order. You need to ask her friends if anything weird is going on in her life at school. Maybe ask friends moms too, they might be able to dig deeper. Bullies, boys teasing her, tough work load, dickheaded teacher that picks on her. ( I am presuming that things are normal at home. No divorces,no sibling who has been on Sally Jesse, jail terms for a parental unit, no recent deaths, no best friends moving out of town…etc.) She may not talk to you directly. What kid at that age wants to talk to their parents? Actually, they do want to talk, ( talk, no lectures, just talk about things.) but you have to ask gentle pointed questions or they clam up pretty tight getting you frustrated. ( maybe start backwards in questioning: What went through your mind when you reached for the bottle of pills? How did you feel after you swallowed them?..What kind of day did you have at school…something along those lines.)

I’m betting my bottom dollar on this: It’s probably a case of typical teen angst setting in early: I’m fat, I’m stupid, Nobody Likes Me. I’m ugly. I dress like a dweeb. My parents just don’t understand.I’ll never have a boyfriend. You know, the stuff that we all went through and we know our kids must go through. The character building stuff. Trouble is, we forget HOW SERIOUS WE TOOK IT and JUST HOW SILLY IT ALL WAS LOOKING BACK ON ALL OF IT and THIS TOO WILL PASS…and She’s just a little more reactionary and sensitive to the whole thing. I’m sure in a couple of days she will be really embarrassed and not want to talk about it at all when she goes in for the pshyc eval.

Clamming up will not be an option there and after you leave the room and she is told that what is said is in the strictest confidence (fingers crossed by the Doc) she will open up more. It takes more than one visit, I think ( based on finally getting my mom to a therapist.) Ask if you can schedule five or six visits, if not with that doc, then someone they recommend that works with cases like your daughters. Don’t tell her you did it, tell her that it is required by law for anyone under 18 who tries to off themselves. She won’t know any better and the Doctor will go along with it. The reason is that a couple of visits will help her relax more and open up, maybe delving deeper into something she might not even know is bothering her will surface.

Good Luck and God Bless. {{{Hugs}}}

Tough situation- My sister did this at about age 16- happily, she did not end up with any liver damage at all. It was an attention getting thing for her, and it worked. My only advice is:
Thank God she’s OK
Get a good family counselor and find out what’s going on with her.

It could be anything- trouble at school, boy pressure, perceived home trouble. In any event, try hard not to blame yourself- just be there for her and let her know that you want to help her through whatever she’s going through.
Take care and let us know how we can help you :slight_smile:

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Gee, that was quick! Thanks everyone – I do feel better! I should have mentioned that Dori has a few extra issues. No divorces or abuse, but she has CP. This has been difficult for her recently – she went to a disabled day camp for a few days early in the summer and had problems we didn’t anticipate. Dori had assumed that there was a population of people out there “just like” her, but she didn’t fit in at the camp, either. She is very high functioning so she wasn’t impaired “enough” at camp, but at school she is too impaired! Also, she has been struggling a little with some eating issues (too minor to be called a disorder, really) that may be symptoms of the same problem as the overdose. Or maybe the overdose grew out of the eating problems. I don’t know. I do wish I had paid a bit more attention to the eating thing. I was monitering it, with an eye towards getting some help for her if it seemed warranted – then this came up and blindsided us… Oh, and she just started middle school this year! As for the therapy – we’re certainly planning to follow up. I’m thinking 6 or 10 sessions at a minimum – she really does have a lot going on! Thanks again, everyone. Kind words and support are invaluable! I’ll keep eveyone posted on her (and our) progress.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Be sure to mention the whole too disabled to function normally at school but not enough to fit in with other disabled kids. I mention this because most people don’t know how really mentally difficult this is (I have a lot of issues with this myself- it’s very difficult). Being a kid is so damned hard- my heart goes out to both of you. Hang in there!


Sorry to hear this disturbing news. I’m not a psychiatric pro or anything, and I think Shirley already summed things up pretty well.

I just wanted to offer some empirical encouragement. I did have a friend who “cut” her wrist 3 different times in 7th & 8th grade. She was, IMHO, an attractive and, I thought, reasonably well liked gal. The age is close enough to your daughter to make me think possibly the same things are operating (huge variance in level of development around those years). Even at that age it seemed to me that these were attention seeking efforts. I talked with her quite a bit and it seemed to me that in her case, she was for some reason I could not perceive, afraid that guys didn’t like her. As I think Shirley pointed out, that’s only one of several sources of insecurity at that age.

Anyway, she got through high school and really bloomed in the senior year (at which point 13 seemed like thirty years ago does now). Last I had any contact with her she was in college and rockin’…

So, what I’ve got to offer is: this is definitely a situation that you’ve got to watch, but my tiny empirical experience says the prognosis can be good.

You get what you pay for with amateur shrinks.

Good luck, dear.

Somehow, I think this topic deserves to be on a more serious forum than MPSIMS. Mundane? Pointless? Hardly!!
But the SDMB doesnt seems to have any other forum for these type of threads.
any suggestions?
And Jess…all I can say is… look at the bright side; had you found out 12 hours later…

I think it’s necessary for me to offer a different perspective on this whole issue. From the young girl’s point of view. Granted, a lot of the things they do are for attention, but when it comes to trying to kill yourself seriously like that, it’s not just attention. I tried the same thing, and the last thing I wanted was for someone to keep me from dying. But it wasn’t the first time I’ve done stuff like that. I’m sure that it wasn’t the first time your daughter did anything either. With the eating problem and attempted suicide it seems pretty clear to me that she’s depressed. I’m not a phsyciatrist or anything, but I’ve heard enough at charter, counseling sessions etc. to know the signs. If it’s been going on for a while it’s really important that you have her see a phsyciatrist and see if she needs medication. I’ve been on anti-depressents for about 3 1/2 months now and I can’t explain the difference it’s made in my life.

Oh my goodness. I don’t think I can do more but wish you the best, but I do hope things improve for you. It must have been so frightening! I can’t even imagine. I hope this is as bad as things get for you, and that the situation gets better soon!

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

If the problems is school, then you may consider private school for a year, or for however long you can afford. I support public schools and would like to see some improvements (smaller schools, for one), but I do see how well some kids do at a Montessori school that has 6 grades.Even the troubled kids shape up. There is no place to hide in that school.Your problems stand out.And there aren’t enough kids to make any pecking orders or levels.
Both of our kids did/(will do) kindergarten in this school, they would have been bored in public kindergarten.


I am so sorry to hear this. As a person who lost a family member through suicide, all I can say is thank God you found out about it in time. It’s been 17 years since my father died, and I still sometimes wonder if I could have done more.

Whatever it takes, FIND OUT why she tried it. Her reasons might seem trivial, but understand that they are not trivial to her. I agree with some of the other posts here: professional help is needed, but just as important is for her to understand that she has family and friends that are there for her.

My sympathies and thoughts go to you.

Jess - How scary for you. I can’t really add anything that others haven’t already said except that you might want to stress to her that sometimes suicide attempts that aren’t meant to be successful - are.

A couple of years ago a neighbor boy got into an argument with his girlfriend, took a handfull of asprin and died. Even though his parents took him to the hospital soon after he took the asprin (he told them immediately) and he received treatment within the hour, his body had a reaction and he was dead a few hours later.

He told his parents at the hospital that he didn’t want to die but that he only wanted his girlfriend to listen to him.

A few years ago, my brother had a friend whose new Walkman was stollen from his locker at school. His father had told him not to take it but he did anyway. He knew that he would be grounded for the weekend when his dad found out.

After school, he called 911 and then called my brother and another friend and told them to come over to his back yard. As soon as he saw the boys and heard the siren, he shot himself in the stomach. According to the letter he left, he didn’t think he would die if he shot his stomach as opposed to his head. He did.

Both boys were well adjusted and happy. They simply made a bad judgment in handling a minor teenage crisis. A decision that cost both of their lives.

Make her understand that there are so many other ways to ask for help and that all too often attention getting attempts are successful.

I’ve been thinking about your situation, Jess, and I think my own situation might help you better understand what your daughter is going through. I’ve had major depression since I was twelve, which is when I made my first suicide attempt. In my case, it’s related to my hormones- you could say I have the world’s worst case of PMS. It took me another 15 years to find out this was the source of the problem and to get effective treatment. Prozac wasn’t even available for the first several years of my depression, but that drug has saved my life. I don’t know if your daughter’s depression is related to PMS, but I would strongly urge you to look into it. Keep a calendar together of days she’s depressed and days she’s not to see if there’s a correlation. (Even if she hasn’t started to menstruate yet, those hormones are probably kicking into high gear about this time in her life.)

I made several suicide attempts when I was younger, and most were not “cries for help”- I really wanted to die. I would take a bottle of aspirin and not tell anyone. My parents had no clue I was going through this until years later. You’re fortunate that you’re aware of this problem NOW!

Whether or not she intended her attempt to be discovered, it’s a sign of overwhelming depression and helplessness. Looking back, there are some things my parents could have done to help me out. (I don’t blame my parents for not knowing what the hell to do with me; they did the best they knew how.) For one thing, they could have spent less time putting a guilt trip on me for making them miserable and for wasting their money. I felt guilty enough already! Kids have a difficult time gaining control of their overpowering emotions. I would strongly recommend cognitive therapy, as opposed to traditional psychoanalysis or “talk” therapy. I went to a shrink for years and YEARS, where all he did was sit there and listen to me yak about my life. This was not at all helpful; in fact I often left his office more depressed than before. Cognitive therapy is more interactive; it allows you to correct the errors in your thinking that cause you to feel badly. It allows you to take control over yourself and your life, which is what your daughter needs. A book that helped me immensely was “Feeling Good” by Dr. Burns (cheesy title, I know, but this book helped me more than ten years of therapy).

Your daughter’s problems- her disability, any boy trouble or trouble with friends, schools problems- are not the CAUSE of her depression. Obviously, she is having difficulty DEALING with these problems, and that’s where the real problem lies. She can learn to cope, with your help.

Everyone’s given great advice, but here’s one more little bit:

Be very wary of people, professionals or not, who say to you that your daughter did this “just to get attention” or because she was “feeling sorry for herself.”

Yes, attention-getting can be part of a suicide attempt, but I’m sure you can already sense who’s using the term as a way to not take your daughter’s problems seriously. And anyone who says anything about “feeling sorry for herself” shouldn’t be allowed near your daughter at all.

Catrandom, who has reason to know.

Very sorry Jess. Don’t have kids so I can’t really be of assistance there. And I live in a much too straight world to have people around me go through such experiences/traumas. From what little I know, I’d say that the advice given so far seems very sound. Your daughter obviously needs professional help. Should this approach prove to be “less than successful” for an assortment of reasons, perhaps encouraging her in subtle ways to spend some time with her “best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world” would lead her to open up (a bit).

I sincerely hope things sort themselves out for you.

Don’t say to your daughter that you think she was “just” trying to get attention. There is nothing “just” or less-important about getting attention. When kids (and sometimes adults) find themselves in a situation they can’t handle, they will try to get help. Most of the time it isn’t a conscious thing… And it will seem the most deadly serious thing in the world to the person involved.

I have tried to kill myself zillions of times. I’ve been hospitalized for overdosing and I’ve been in a mental hospital. I’ve had people try to trivialize what was going on with me–for it really was trivial most of the time; my problems are biological and medication has made all the difference in the world–and those people were my worst enemies at the time. I’d react violently, either toward them or toward myself.

Something that sounds really stupid but that actually helped me was to consider this: things might get better… and why not stick around just to see? I can always kill myself later if they don’t.

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions

Jess -

Not much I can add to what everyone else had said except to say that I’m thinking of you and your family.

Like Holly, I’ve been depressed since I was in middle school. (And just realized how long it’s been recently.) And I would never talk to my parents either. I tried to commit suicide twice in college, both by overdosing on prescription meds. Have your daughter get help - just having someone help her now will do a world of good.

However, I will say this. Force to live life, but don’t force her into therapy, or into taking medications. The one thing I’ve learned over 12 years is that the only real work I’ve ever done to pull myself out of this black hole was even I was ready to do it, not when I was doing it for someone else.

“You have to laugh at yourself, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.”
-Emily Saliers