Posted by: aunt | 2010/02/19


Hi, my 17 yr old niece is one of those ''emmo'' children. Always dark and gloomy, always thinking the world is unfair to her, her mom is always trying to hold her back, too many rules, etc. She was involved with a 13yr old girl - experimental. Has probably had about 6 boyfriends, all relationships not lasting longer than 4 months. Her parents divorced when she was about 5yrs old and we all sort of dealt with her in a special way - thing is - I think that she has many ''dreams'' of committing suicide. It''s so clear in the poems she writes. How would one know when she has reached that final stage? Concerned aunt.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageTeen Suicide guest experts

Dear Aunt

I am so glad that you are posting this question, as I too struggle sometimes with what is part of "emmo" culture and what is serious suicidal intent. It would appear that poems and songs about suicide/death, and dark pictures form part of "emmo" culture. In my experience, it is better to treat any threat as serious, and get professional help. Even if she is not truly suicidal, it may be very beneficial to have a safe space to talk things through. The tell tale signs of suicidal intent are:

- being deeply depressed: pervasive sadness, losing interest in the activities that the person enjoys, withdrawing
-talking about suicide and death: " I wish I were dead" "I can't do life anymore"
- Suddenly showing a lift in spirits: feeling relieved because their problems may soon come to an end
- Preparing for death: giving away personal posessions, finalising things, e.g telling people what they mean to her etc.
- Change in personality: e.g. change in habits.

I think that it is wonderful that you are a caring and supportive aunt, and your neice is lucky to have you. It seems like she is able to share a lot with you. Please encourage her to see someone or contact SADAG (011) 783 1474 for further advise. In case of emergency, if you think she might be a danger to herself, you can phone Toll Free Suicide Crisis Line” 0800 567 567, or take her to a hospital.

Good luck


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