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My son and his suicidal girlfriend

Discussion in 'Personal' started by fennysnake, Aug 17, 2015.

  1. fennysnake

    fennysnake New commenter

    Am hoping that there might be some experienced parents on here who might be able to give me some reassurance.

    My darling 21 yr old son has bought his girlfriend to stay with us, following her unsuccessful suicide attempt a couple of weeks ago. She is receiving help from her GP, a counsellor and the university mental health team and is on medication.

    She is estranged from her family, barely eats and is reluctant to leave her room - I do not know what to do to help this desperately unhappy person while she is staying with us.

    And I am so worried about the effect on my loving boy, due to start his final year at a university at the other end of the country. Is there any way this could end happily?
  2. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    What's the previous history? How did she become to be estranged from her family?

    It will be tough, but it can end happily. It depends on the people involved and the support that's given.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Dear FS

    I must say I can see right away how much you must love your son and how much he must care for his girl friend since he could have easily walked away which a lot of people would have done and also you could have said no for her to come to your home.

    Of course you must be worried since your son needs to finish his studies. What you can do for this girl is just be there for her. It is rather complicated though since your son will be leaving for university soon and his girl friend will still need a place to live and get better.

    If your son still has a commitment to this young woman and wants to maintain the relationship then you will have to discuss this all with him and your husband. I don't know who the contact would be with the GP, counsellor and university since she is not in communication with her family. Her family may be desperate to know about her now.

    Try not to worry...you have done well so far in raising your son and instilling some good values in him. I trust other posters may be a long in due course to point out some practical steps you can take.

    In the meantime, I shall keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
  4. felltogroundinberkeleysquare

    felltogroundinberkeleysquare Established commenter

    I have often talked about the problems of my eldest who can be described as problematic, but by allowing her to make her own decisions, she has come out of it, scathed but not dead. At the ages you are talking of, a lot goes on, and it can change.

    Said offspring tends to attract even more difficult candidates, but they all had good points ( artistic/musical) and I have had many a Christmas wondering whom I am serving up a Turkey to. My strategy has been to go with the flow unless there is immediate danger. These people just need to find their own way at this age, and should be allowed to do so, but as a mother you are the person of last resort, and should only act if you are very very concerned for your loved one.

    Current situation: all three with degrees and jobs - tolerable to good partners. Radical none intervention at the moment!
  5. What a difficult situation for you all. It's very good of you to take her in and that must be a real relief for your son too. The main practical difficulty is going to be the issue of his departing for Uni and whether she'll be strong enough to accompany him (if she's at the same place - I'm not sure); and the effect on his studies if she isn't, and/or remains at your home..

    Your son should, as a first step, and with her consent, contact the appropriate person at his University and let them know what's going on. If she isn't agreeable to it, I'd advise him to speak in confidence to them anyway.

    What happens in the future largely depends on how quickly she recovers. She sounds as if she's cooperating with her treatment, and knowing she has your support must help, especially if she doesn't see her own family anymore.

    It's a hell of a burden for you but you sound as if you'd crawl over broken glass to help your son. If I were religious I'd pray that you are sent the strength to cope with it all. I'm sure you will.
  6. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I am a little confused - is the girl local to you or local to where your son is at uni? If she is local to you then is he asking for her to stay with you?

    Will she talk at all to you? Can you therefore help too? She doesn't have family members to support her with an estrangement so maybe needs you?
  7. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Coming from the other side - I had many issues with my parents as a teenager and did contemplate suicide; fortunately, I escaped (I was emotionally abused, but not physically or sexually) and once I was out of a difficult home life, things slowly improved. I still have some issues now (especially related to food and low self esteem) and to be honest, just be there for your son and his girlfriend.

    Your son trusts you - that is a huge thing for you and for his girlfriend. I saw with two of most important boyfriends' families a normal dynamic and what a 'normal' family life was like - yes, there were hard times but underneath it all was a feeling of love and respect. By all means sit down with your son and speak to him about the GP, counselling and other aspects but once you get the information, process it and then decide based on what your son thinks is best - if you all sit down and discuss it (with the girlfriend at the same time), she might be get scared and be unwilling or unable to open up. Think of her as a wounded animal and give her some time to emerge from the shock and numbness.

    Is she going to be remaining in the home town while your son goes back to university? Does she go to university herself? The answer to that may also mean medium and long-term plans would also need to be considered.

    Take it day by day in the immediate future. You are justifiably worried but you should also be pleased that you have raised a kind, considerate and sympathetic young man.

    best wishes and good luck

    ps. on the other side, my husband's mother is currently in hospital for severe depression (she has had suicidal episodes throughout her life), so the only thing sometimes you can do is offer love and help - sometimes, it helps; other times, it doesn't...sigh
  8. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I'm coming at it from a different perspective in that it was my son who was suicidal at the age of 21. At the time, he was at university, so away from home, and while he did have the full support of his family, there was a girl at uni (not his girlfriend) who helped so much just by being there, being strong and talking to him. I will never forget her kindness.

    Clinical depression with suicidal ideation is the cruellest of illnesses. I brought my son home from uni - my school were fantastic and gave me compassionate leave so I could be with him, as he was considered so high a risk they would have sectioned him if I had been unable to guarantee being with him at all times.

    I don't know whether the way I dealt with it was right or wrong, but I took some comfort from the fact that I knew the person in front of me who seemed so desperately unhappy and in total despair, so much so that he could not see any reason to carry on living, was not in his right mind - and so, when I talked to him, I kept reassuring him that those feelings were caused by the depression, which was an illness for which he was taking medication, and which he would recover from. Sometimes I couldn't tell whether I was getting through to him or not, but I felt it was important to try.

    As other posters have implied, your son is a credit to you and you should be very proud of him.
  9. fennysnake

    fennysnake New commenter

    Thank you everyone for your advice and reassurance. It has meant a lot to me to know that other people (and their children) have emerged from other similar situations.

    All I am doing at the moment is supporting my son - feeding him and prising him out of their room at least once a day and sometimes sending him on errands so he gets some fresh air. His girlfriend stays completely in their room and only emerges when the rest of us are out of the house. It is hard to think how she will be able to move from this stage of anxiety to living on her own at uni - miles away from us, and even further from him ... but one day at a time!

    Thank you again everyone. I did not know how much kind words from strangers would mean until now.
  10. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    So she does emerge when you aren't there ? Try to encourage your lad to get her to at least speak to you. It must be very difficult for you.
  11. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    It must be very difficult for your son' s girlfriend to be dealing with depression whilst being estranged from her family.

    It is really supportive of you to have given her this space.

    As she is over 18, health professionals and the university well being department will need her to engage directly in what is going to happen next year.

    She will need to decide if following her suicide attempt she is well enough to go back to uni or whether she could ,on the grounds of fitness to study, ask to defer for a year whilst she continues to recover.

    You don't say what year she is in but if it is her final year , she will need to consider how she will cope with completing a dissertation and final year exams/ work.

    Hopefully, the wellbeing team at the university will have already been looking into these questions - will she be getting mentoring via the DSA for her depression?

    The good thing with getting inhouse mentoring and or counselling is that she will have support not only to support her on the course, the wellbeing staff often act as intermediatries between other academic staff and other things which may come up like the need for extensions.

    She doesn't seem as though she is very strong at the moment and if she does want to continue with her course, she definitely needs to be proactive in taking up all the support she can access.

    Starting the next academic year and not coping with the workload could exasperate the situation further , making the depression harder to cope with.However, on the other hand having a focus and keeping busy does help people to cope too.

    I think there is a good chance that she will get back from this - the important thing to remember is that many students defer for all sorts of reasons but then return to complete their degrees successfully - and that if she does go back this year, it is because she feels that she can cope with the help of the support she can access

    And if she decides to defer , a year soon passes and she may well be in a stronger position next September.

    I think you should be really proud of your son - he sounds like a very mature and caring person. He will , however, need to look after himself too as it won't be an easy position to be in and he will have lots of academic work pressure too over the next year.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    So what happens when he goes back to uni? Will she go with him? Don't mean to be unkind but won't that have the potential to drag him down? Obviously he could defer and caring for her may be much more important in the scheme of things than getting a degree in 2016.

    You're an angel, you are, fenny. You must be mad with worry.
  13. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Moonpenny makes some good points to think about regarding your sons girlfriend going back to university. The dilemma your in is that she is 18 and she is the one who might have to make contact with her university and other agencies who can support her. I suppose there is no reason you can't speak to contacts though to get advice on what her options may be.

    I wonder if a social worker could help? Are you going back to work yourself?

    Continuing to keep you and your family in thoughts and prayers.

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