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Question
Posted by: BMJ | 2012/03/12

Help with suicide

Dear Doc.
We have a 50 year old woman in our church that has tried to commit suicide. She has been very depressed and has been in an out of psyciatric hospitals for shock treatment. I believe she suffers from bi-polar depression. She is on medication. Last month, her divorce was final. She is estranged from her children. She has made some very poor choices and because she lies and steals all the time, she has no friends.

As a church, we have obviously tried to help her as much as we could. She has not worked in years and we encouraged her to get involved in any kind of work - offering various options so she will have some sense of purpose. She did not want to do any of it. We have visitied, invited her over, phoned etc. We have obviously, as a church sought to ecourage her in her faith and just tried to love and accept her. She is truly a broken woman and desperately lonely woman.

On Thursday evening, we invited her for supper. We were concerned when she left. She seems to have lost the will to live and has absolutely no interest in anything.

Her neighbour found her this morning. She had apparently tried to take a overdose of medication to kill herself. She was admitted to the local goverment hospital. Now that her divorce is through, she no longer has medical aid.

I feel completely out of my depth. I would like to help her but I dont know where to even start. All the things we have tried has clearly not helped. Please can you tell me what to do.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Especially with a bipolar disorder, medication can be very important indeed in trying to achieve a control of the severe mood swings. But I am always uneasy when any significant mood problem is treated entirely with medication. From the sound of it, your friend should ALSO be seeing a psychologist for a proper assessment of her psychological issues, and a skilled psychotherapy, probably of the CBT format.
But it sounds as though you may be facing an all-too frequent problem, someone who is their own worst enemy, in whom the basic personality disorder which makes them unpleasant and self-sabotaging may even make them untreatable.
It is sad when people are very lonely through no fault of their own, but less sad when someone is so unpleasant that people find it painful to be with her, or who refuses to try to be pleasantly friendly with anyone else.
But OK, she took an overdose and was admitted to a local state hospital - that may be important and helpful. Communicate with whichever doctor she is seeing ( she may not have told him much if any of her relevant history ) and emphasize her need to be seen and assessed by a good psychiatrist and psychologist, and for them to consider the option of compulsory admission to start treatment she may be thought to need.
If she can get proper expert help, she may improve to the extent that she could then appreciate and respond to all the other kind things you have been trying to do for her. Otherwise, its like you're singing to a deaf person.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anon 4 this | 2012/03/12

You say u r out of your depth which is correct. Stop believing God is of any help in this and leave it to the professionals. Jesus really does not have all the answers as this situation has proven........

Reply to Anon 4 this
Posted by: Romany | 2012/03/12

The Bible says " God help those who help themselves" 
She is enjoying the attention and you " faffing" around her.
maybe give it up so she can see that she can help herself

Reply to Romany
Posted by: xyz | 2012/03/12

Life is a gift from God, when you cosider suicide, you say to God, take back this life you gave me.

Reply to xyz
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/03/12

Especially with a bipolar disorder, medication can be very important indeed in trying to achieve a control of the severe mood swings. But I am always uneasy when any significant mood problem is treated entirely with medication. From the sound of it, your friend should ALSO be seeing a psychologist for a proper assessment of her psychological issues, and a skilled psychotherapy, probably of the CBT format.
But it sounds as though you may be facing an all-too frequent problem, someone who is their own worst enemy, in whom the basic personality disorder which makes them unpleasant and self-sabotaging may even make them untreatable.
It is sad when people are very lonely through no fault of their own, but less sad when someone is so unpleasant that people find it painful to be with her, or who refuses to try to be pleasantly friendly with anyone else.
But OK, she took an overdose and was admitted to a local state hospital - that may be important and helpful. Communicate with whichever doctor she is seeing ( she may not have told him much if any of her relevant history ) and emphasize her need to be seen and assessed by a good psychiatrist and psychologist, and for them to consider the option of compulsory admission to start treatment she may be thought to need.
If she can get proper expert help, she may improve to the extent that she could then appreciate and respond to all the other kind things you have been trying to do for her. Otherwise, its like you're singing to a deaf person.

Reply to cybershrink

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