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"He talks about suicide so I can't give up on him." (posted elsewhere, also)

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
"He talks about suicide so I can't give up on him." That's basically what my dd said about her recently-ex boyfriend. Dd revealed that her best friend said the same thing about her own boyfriend, even though she wants to leave him. Dd describes similar dynamics with her other girlfriends and their boyfriends. These kids are generally 15 to 17 years old.

Dd came to me in tears last night and talked to me a long time about how things are still intertwined, intense and complicated between them, even though he broke up with her more than a month ago.

I don't have any personal experience with this. I had one other boyfriend before dh, and though he 'drunk dialed' me in tears once after we broke up it didn't make me want to take him back.

My experience was 25 years ago. Are teen relationships that different these days? Maybe I'm kind of heartless??

It's really too bad that dd got so emotionally involved with this kid. This dating thing was just supposed to be fun. She's only 15 y.o., she's not old enough to be dealing with this level of responsibility for another human being. She wants to save him from his bad father and clueless mother. And I know the huge thrill from prospect of being someones savior is part of it, I've felt it too.

But in the mean time, even though he broke it off with her, when she starts to move on emotionally and finally heal, he conveys that he's jealous of her friendship with one of his friends, that he doesn't think he can 'trust her' (with what, for God's sake?? You broke up with her, you little dweeb! ) and then tells her how he started cutting again, how utterly depressed he is, how his dad gets so mad at him he hits him.

I'm getting from her that she might be able to finally move on if she was certain that he was getting some good help with his own issues, but in the mean time she's stuck and can't get out of this emotional turmoil.

If you've had experience with this particular dynamic, the 'suicide' factor --what do I do??

Edited to add, wow I sound like I don't believe the exbf, that he's just making it all up to manipulate her. That's not the case at all, but I am frustrated and it's made me flippant. I am very angry with how this has torn my daughter up and my priorities are with her.
post #2 of 41
I had a very similar experience as a teen. It wasn't my boyfriend but my closest friend. I started to pull back from him at some point, and he called me in tears - many times - talking about suicide. My mom's perspective was much like yours, and it caused a major rift between us. Even if he had been attention-seeking (and I don't think he was), I still could not walk away. What if I hung up and he had killed himself? That was always in the back of my mind. My friend had a lot of horrible things happen to him that I didn't want to share with my mother. (I don't know if that would've changed her mind - probably not).

If it were my daughter, I might feel the same way. I can't stand to think of my beautiful little girl feeling responsible for someone else's life decisions, but at the same time, I'm very sensitive to mental health issues. What I wish my mom had done (and so probably would do) was 1) acknowledge that he & I both were hurting and 2) help me learn how to help him. I could have used resources to point him to or even books to read, something. When my mom said that she wanted me not to speak to him because it wasn't my "responsibility," it just made me feel hopeless.

ETA: Cutting is *rarely* a suicide gesture. It's an entirely different ball of wax. Maybe it would help both you & your dd to read up on it so that you can put everything into perspective.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
I finally had time to talk with dh about this. He says not to underestimate the drive for sex. He says these boys might not even know they're doing it, but they keep pouring on the neediness in an attempt to maintain that connection with the girls, because it just might work. It might be hours, weeks or months, but in the back of their heads they're ever hopeful. It comes down to sex, even if a particular boy hasn't had sex yet. Dh has said all this to dd before, but he says he'll talk to her again about it.

I called the counselors office at dd's school and asked for a call back. I can't in good conscious not say something to someone about the disturbing things dd has told me the exbf is experiencing. Heaven knows, teens NEVER exaggerate to each other just how horrible their parents are. But I know from my own observations his dad has an obnoxious hothead temper and obviously the boy is very, very unhappy.
post #4 of 41
Thread Starter 
VisionaryMom, we cross posted, but THANK YOU! More thoughts in a bit...

Quote:
What I wish my mom had done (and so probably would do) was 1) acknowledge that he & I both were hurting and 2) help me learn how to help him. I could have used resources to point him to or even books to read, something. When my mom said that she wanted me not to speak to him because it wasn't my "responsibility," it just made me feel hopeless.

ETA: Cutting is *rarely* a suicide gesture. It's an entirely different ball of wax. Maybe it would help both you & your dd to read up on it so that you can put everything into perspective.
To your first point, I feel really fortunate that so far my daughter seems to still feel comfortable telling me about this. She's come to me three or four times with these tearful episodes. I totally know what you mean about acknowledging and accepting the pain. I didn't always get that from my parents, either. So I make a big effort to shut up and listen to her. And I tell her I can see she's in horrible pain. I've told her it's totally not fair that the boyfriend, anyone, really, has to deal with a dad like that. I did do some reading about cutting. The boy had traumatic medical issues when he was a baby, still has to deal with them, and add a nutty, hostile dad on top of that, plus a stressful Junior year of HS, and it's no wonder he might turn to cutting.

To your second point, I totally get that I can't tell her not to talk to him. I was also 'shut down' by my parents when I really needed them. But I hopehopehope, I believe I'm handling this better with dd, so far.

None the less, it ISN'T my dd's responsibility to fix this boy's problems, she is not capable of doing that. *I* can't either, but like I said above, I did put a call in to the counselor's office, and I hope they can tell us something.
post #5 of 41
Threatening suicide is one way that abusers manipulate their victims. So I think you're right to be concerned here, and right to be a little skeptical and heartless. Bottom line, if this kid needs help, simply calling your dd in tears is not accomplishing anything. If he's attention-seeking, calling your dd is manipulative and abusive. Either way, this needs to be brought into the light with adults who can intervene and point both this kid and your dd towards appropriate resources.

Calling the school guidance counselors is a good step. I would also say, that if this kid is reporting child abuse to your dd, he may well be desperate for help. In cases of apparent danger to self or others, adults who are aware of the situation should make a report. You can call the police (this is who I would call in re. threats of suicide), or you can call CPS (for reports that his dad hits him). The guidance counselor is a mandated reporter, and is required to report all non-accidental injuries to CPS or the police. They should investigate the cutting. If there is a school resource officer, that's probably who they are reporting to. You can try calling the SRO if you're more comfortable with that than with the police non-emergency number.
post #6 of 41
I appreciate what VisionaryMom has to say, but I have a bit of a different perspective. I too had am emotionally difficult relationship w/someone as a teen. What I needed in order to move on was to feel empowered to seperate from the "coupleness" and move on as my own person. The constant pulling back into the relationship by the boyfriend is both manipulative and abusive. The last person who should be having responsibility for 'helping" someone who is engaging in this type of behavior is your teen daughter. i don't think he's looking for resources-he's looking to control her.

My dd is a preteen, so I'll be watching to see how this plays out for you. But, I have seen other teen relatives in very, eerily similar relationships and I have never seen anything positive from one teen feeling responsible, or feeling as though they have the power to be responsible, for helping another with such disturbing relationship dynamics.
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
I finally had time to talk with dh about this. He says not to underestimate the drive for sex. He says these boys might not even know they're doing it, but they keep pouring on the neediness in an attempt to maintain that connection with the girls, because it just might work. It might be hours, weeks or months, but in the back of their heads they're ever hopeful. It comes down to sex, even if a particular boy hasn't had sex yet. Dh has said all this to dd before, but he says he'll talk to her again about it.

I called the counselors office at dd's school and asked for a call back. I can't in good conscious not say something to someone about the disturbing things dd has told me the exbf is experiencing. Heaven knows, teens NEVER exaggerate to each other just how horrible their parents are. But I know from my own observations his dad has an obnoxious hothead temper and obviously the boy is very, very unhappy.
I think you probably did the right thing by calling the councilor. If you think the abuse allegations are true, then I would also report it to the police. On one hand, it could just be an attempt to control, but on the other hand it could be a very serious cry for help and he felt that in some way (possibly by telling you or another adult) she could find a way to get him the help he needs. Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable brushing off what he's been saying.
post #8 of 41
FWIW- I had a similar experience with an ex-bf in high school/college. He threatened to kill himself unless I took him back. I talked him away from the gun (literally) and he calmed down. I did not tell my parents or his. I look back at it now and realize we were very lucky that nothing horrible happened. I'm glad that you and your dd have an open enough relationship to talk about all of this.
post #9 of 41
If your daughter really wants to unhook from the drama, but also take him seriously, the next time he threatens suicide she calls 911. She doesn't attend to him, the cops/paramedics do. I had a friend when I was a teenager who went through this with a boyfriend. He called her, said he couldn't live without her, was going to kill himself. She called his parents, said she was worried about him, could they please check on him. Never happened again. And he didn't kill himself. If his parents really are a problem, I wouldn't recommend going this route, but 911 works as a professional will be helping him. Probably not what he really wants.
post #10 of 41
as the sister of someone who died by suicide, i will add this:
1) call the boys parents. even if they are abusive, ultimately they need to know that their son is threatening suicide. you don't know his history or his mental health status. it could be that he is diagnosed, that this behavior is part of a pttern for him that his parents need to know about so they can intervene. my brother reached out to a friend's mother (who works with my mother, who's brother killed himself) among other reasons she should have told my mother but she didn't. had my mother known he did this outragous behavior she would have taken him into his psych, but she didn't know. he was hiding it. or maybe they will blow it off, but as he is a minor- they need to know.
2) someone who cuts themselves is more likely to commit suicide. it is part of the suicidal ideation. if someone is cutting themselves and threatening suicide, then they need to be monitored. those are HUGE indicators for suicide.
3) while not everyone who says suicide actually means to do it, many many many people do. it is not a cry for attention. it is a sick sick disease which kills more people than homicide every year.
4) if there are any sort of crisis center in your community, giev the info to your daughter. tell her the next time he talks to her for her to give him the information and to walk away. you keep some yourself and if he shows up at your house, give it to him and ask him to go there and to leave your house.
5) help your daughter understand that past giving him the info to help himself there is nothing else she can do. that if something does happen it is not her fault. she is not responsible for his actions.
it is totally unfair for him to put this on your daughter, he has no right to do this. however, someone who threatens suicide is mentally ill. he is sick and needs help. please call his parents, monitor all his behavior with your daughter, don't leave them alone don't allow her to go back to him. he needs help. i wouldn't let my daughter be with someone who says that to her either. it is unfair, but unfortunatly, it is the situation you are in. call his parents, call the school (which you have done, which is great) and encourage him to tell his parents. i know that the people who my brother reached out too have been traumatized by his death because they didn't act. even if his parents blow it off, at least you will have tried, and if anything happens you will know you did all you can do.
post #11 of 41
I agree with PP. I had this problem in hs with a friend, and I just took it to the guidance counselor. My sister also had several friends do this, and her default is to call the cops on her cell while on the house line with her friend. That way if it's real, they're taken seriously, and if it's not, they realize that that tactic ain't gonna work and will cause them a lot more trouble than they want to deal with.
post #12 of 41
Honestly, I think kids are allowed to be in heavy relationships with kids of the other gender much younger these days and it leads to this sort of thing. This boy was not emotionally mature enough to handle a date and a break up. Your daughter is not emotionally mature enough to handle his behavior. None of them should have been dating in the first place.

If this were my daughter, I would cut off the relationship. She would have me to fall back on as a safety net. She could tell the guy she is grounded and not allowed to date for a while. She cannot take his calls, he cannot be on her facebook. Her facebook security settings would be that the only people who can see her posts are friends only, not even friends of friends. I would also call his parents and let them know what he said.

I am serious about all that. She can know she is not really in trouble, but that she can "use you" as her safety net right now and tell him that she is grounded and simply not allowed. She needs this right now, desparately.

((((hugs))))
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by InMediasRes View Post
I agree with PP. I had this problem in hs with a friend, and I just took it to the guidance counselor. My sister also had several friends do this, and her default is to call the cops on her cell while on the house line with her friend. That way if it's real, they're taken seriously, and if it's not, they realize that that tactic ain't gonna work and will cause them a lot more trouble than they want to deal with.
Yes, this.
The police usually have a nonemergency line too. One of my friends called it this past month when her ex-boyfriend wrote a scary email. The police took it very seriously, did a welfare check, and asked for a copy of the email.

Let the professionals evaluate the risk. It's not a 15 year old's job.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
If your daughter really wants to unhook from the drama, but also take him seriously, the next time he threatens suicide she calls 911. She doesn't attend to him, the cops/paramedics do. I had a friend when I was a teenager who went through this with a boyfriend. He called her, said he couldn't live without her, was going to kill himself. She called his parents, said she was worried about him, could they please check on him. Never happened again. And he didn't kill himself. If his parents really are a problem, I wouldn't recommend going this route, but 911 works as a professional will be helping him. Probably not what he really wants.
yes this EXACTLY.
post #15 of 41
I agree that she should either call 911 or escalate this to other adults around him. But it might also be helpful for her to see a counsellor, either at school or one through a women's centre or crisis centre, to understand her responsibility in this (that is, pretty much none). Just in case he does do something now or later, either to himself or by escalating this with her, I think it would be good for her to have an outside, professional opinion.

I don't think there is any reason to bemoan her feelings. They really speak well of her and her caring and capacity to form attachments. However, she may need some help in dealing with the impact and results of those feelings, and this situation with this young man is one that even adults would struggle with. Nothing wrong with marshalling some troops for her.
post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by rachel_eva View Post
3) while not everyone who says suicide actually means to do it, many many many people do. it is not a cry for attention. it is a sick sick disease which kills more people than homicide every year.
Yes. I feel everyone's assuming he's lying to manipulate without any real evidence. I didn't get from the op that this boy is saying "take me back or I'll kill myself." Rather he is reaching out and telling the op's daughter that his parents are abusive and that he wants to die because of it. He's self-harming. Those are indicators that something really is wrong.

I know of far too many suicides where later someone said, "he said he wanted to die, but I didn't believe him at the time." There was a high-profile suicide 2 weeks ago in which many people reported that the man who died said he wanted to die, and people brushed it off.
post #17 of 41
Thread Starter 
This has been sooo helpful, thank you everyone. I told dd that I called the counselors office to ask for direction and help for exbf. She's self conscious about it. She also said that he finally talked to his mom about his dad's actions. I don't believe for a second she doesn't know.

Quote:
Yes. I feel everyone's assuming he's lying to manipulate without any real evidence.
It's interesting, I see multiple perspectives.
post #18 of 41
Tell her "you can't save people from themselves."
post #19 of 41
and if the dad is hitting him, a call to CPS is definitely warranted.
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
Honestly, I think kids are allowed to be in heavy relationships with kids of the other gender much younger these days and it leads to this sort of thing. This boy was not emotionally mature enough to handle a date and a break up. Your daughter is not emotionally mature enough to handle his behavior. None of them should have been dating in the first place.

If this were my daughter, I would cut off the relationship. She would have me to fall back on as a safety net. She could tell the guy she is grounded and not allowed to date for a while. She cannot take his calls, he cannot be on her facebook. Her facebook security settings would be that the only people who can see her posts are friends only, not even friends of friends. I would also call his parents and let them know what he said.

I am serious about all that. She can know she is not really in trouble, but that she can "use you" as her safety net right now and tell him that she is grounded and simply not allowed. She needs this right now, desparately.

((((hugs))))
What about what he needs? If he is suicidal and being abused, than he needs help. And not tomorrow, or the next time he starts dating. He needs it as soon as someone can get it to him.

I think the OP's dd is more mature then you give her credit for. She was very much able to find someone (the OP) who has more resources to help the boy than she does. I think the OP's DD handled it very well seeking help.
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