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Question
Posted by: CS01 | 2011/03/02

Aunt Suicide

My family is going through a tough time - my aunt (mom''s sister) tried committing suicide on Sunday. Let me just give you a little background on the situation that she finds herself in.

She''s 48, was highly sucessful PA to very senior management in one of the major banks in Durban. Bank went through retrencment process approx 2 years ago and she was affected. She had been working there for 17+ years but only has Std 8 plus the years of work experience. (internal training courses, etc)
She at first was able to find temp work but as the recession started the work really dried up. With her not working, she has been listed as a slow payer on ITC - I''m sure you get the picture that this counts against her too now when approaching employment agencies.

Things got so bad in Dec that it was decided by my mom that she had to relocate to the OFS where my mom stays. She had been without any work for 8 months by then and was kicked out by her daughter and no choice (their relationship is very strained). Now she has tried to find work there as well but nothing is materializing at all - I myself have spoken to the employment agencies- there is just nothing available at the moment. When I say we''ve tried, I mean we''ve gone from businesses to shops etc (we''ve even approached SPAR,for cashier work)

We have now realised that my aunt is a functioning addict and that this depressive state she is in has caused her to start taking more and more pain medication. (She''s always taken headache tablets for so called migraines/stress headaches)
We suspect that she is taking up to 60 tablets a day now - we''ve found Mypradol/Synap Forte/Mybulen, etc. She also has severe angiexty attacks (using very strong meds for this and on antidepressants as well.

On Sunday she came home with vomit all over herself and we thought he had been drinking - she couldn''t speak properly and vomited again before we just put her to bed. We thought she had been drinking but when we went to check the car we found vomit again with half digested tablets, the tablets she didn''t manage to take plus the suicide letters she had written us all. I don''t know how she made it cause she took all the tablets my mom had in the house as well.
There was no way to confront her as she was totally out of it but we watched her the whole night and she was ok. She''s been sleeping for most of Monday/Tues - there has been no confrontation as yet,she is at breaking point and you can see it. She feels like a total failure, feels that she is only a burdon to the rest of us. No work, no-one willing to give her a proper chance, feels like she''s letting everyone down and her daughter having deserted her.

We don''t really know what to do at this point - she cannot move out, there is nowhere for her to go. Please note that this is a very small town in the OFS and there is no state hospital we could take her to for treatment.

PS: (As far as buying the tablets - she has access to her mother/our grannies bank account and would pay grannies accounts for her. Gran is definately been her enabler but we''ve stopped her accessing grannies account)

Sorry for the long post.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

South Africa is surpisingly lax about making it easy for people to buy and consume large volunes of certain sedative pain-killers, which contain potentially dependency-producing sedatives ( often various anti-histamines ) and may also contain Codeine, which is a relative of morphine, and can also definitely produce dependency. As they can be bought without prescription, there is no effective limit on the amount one can consume.
If these are being combined with anti-anxiety meds ( also usually sedative ) as well as antidepressants, and I suspect she did not tell the shrink or prescibing doctor of the over-the-counter painkillers she was also taking, its not surprising she was very sedated. This may have played a significant role in her retrenchment and in her difficulty in finding work.
In the situation you describe, with a potentially dangerous Overdose taken, and a substantial risk of suicide, she should be seen as an emergency by at the best least a good GP, and as soon as possible, a psychiatrist.
If she's in a very small town with no shrink or hospital, that is a problem. The GP may be able to arrange an emergency admission to the nearest competent state hospital, and should be involved in helping to make arrangements for her safety and treatment.
( Good that you've stopped her from accessing grannies account, by the way, but if she remains suicidal there are other very accessible ways open to her).
Once her acute depression and the OD and the dependencies have been cleared up, she may be in a better state to seek work again, and a social worker from the hospital may be able to help with this, too.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/03/02

South Africa is surpisingly lax about making it easy for people to buy and consume large volunes of certain sedative pain-killers, which contain potentially dependency-producing sedatives ( often various anti-histamines ) and may also contain Codeine, which is a relative of morphine, and can also definitely produce dependency. As they can be bought without prescription, there is no effective limit on the amount one can consume.
If these are being combined with anti-anxiety meds ( also usually sedative ) as well as antidepressants, and I suspect she did not tell the shrink or prescibing doctor of the over-the-counter painkillers she was also taking, its not surprising she was very sedated. This may have played a significant role in her retrenchment and in her difficulty in finding work.
In the situation you describe, with a potentially dangerous Overdose taken, and a substantial risk of suicide, she should be seen as an emergency by at the best least a good GP, and as soon as possible, a psychiatrist.
If she's in a very small town with no shrink or hospital, that is a problem. The GP may be able to arrange an emergency admission to the nearest competent state hospital, and should be involved in helping to make arrangements for her safety and treatment.
( Good that you've stopped her from accessing grannies account, by the way, but if she remains suicidal there are other very accessible ways open to her).
Once her acute depression and the OD and the dependencies have been cleared up, she may be in a better state to seek work again, and a social worker from the hospital may be able to help with this, too.

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