Saving Loved Ones From Suicide, It’s Not Always In Your Control

Flickr / Richard P J Lambert
Flickr / Richard P J Lambert

With one text message my weekend went from being completely normal to a scene out of the TV show Intervention. A person I once loved and had a relationship with essentially told me they were thinking of killing themselves and I thought it was up to me to save them.

I had a wonderful relationship with my ex. He was caring, goofy, loyal, loving. Though it had its ups and downs, our relationship was incredibly easy. We dated in college and then attempted to keep it going despite the long distance. In the end, the distance and where we were going with our separate lives was just too much and he (though the feeling was probably mutual) ended it. There was no ill will, no hatred and although we were friendly, we didn’t necessarily remain friends. And that apparently is when it all went downhill for him.

Needless to say, when he called me out of the blue after not much more than “Hi, how are you? How’s life?” over the past couple years, I was surprised. More surprising was what he called to say. He was depressed, his life is not what he thought it’d be, his relationships since have really scarred him, he got addicted to drugs/alcohol and he didn’t want to be a part of life any more. A person I once loved told me he was thinking of ending his own life.

Instinctively, I wanted to take it upon myself to help him, to tell him it was going to be okay, to tell him not to do it. He reached out to me, so it was my responsibility, right? WRONG. I’ve seen too many PSAs and viral internet stories about suicide and know that when something like this happens, you tell someone, period – end of story. So, I called his best friend, sent him all of the text messages.

He informed me that things were a lot worse than what they seemed and that he’s been trying for months to get my ex the help he needs, but he flat out refuses. I thought that there had to be something I could do, something to help him or to get him the help he needs and I let these thoughts consume me. My ex (who I barely knew anymore), was depending on me.

As you can probably guess, when my ex found out I spoke with his best friend he shut me out. Told me he hated me, couldn’t trust me and never wanted to speak with me again (classic addict behavior, or so I’m told). I started crying. I felt like a failure. This person came to me for help and I didn’t do everything I could to help them. And after going over the scenario over and over again I realized it wasn’t up to me to save him. Something like this cannot be placed upon the shoulders of one individual.

People can become broken. When that happens, we can all do our best to help them but in the end, it is not up to us to save them, they first have to want to save themselves. It doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it shouldn’t consume our lives either. It cannot be up to any one person to save someone who truly needs saving.

I know I did the right thing and if he wants to hate me for a perceived betrayal of trust, that’s fine – at least he’s alive. If he never talks to me again, okay – as long he’s upright and talking to others. I hope he gets the help he needs. I hope his friends and family will support him. Mostly, I hope I don’t have to attend a funeral any time soon. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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