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Tricky situation… need advice

  • davidthegnome (1392 posts)
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    Tricky situation… need advice

    So, I’ve been seeing someone on and off for over a decade – and for various reasons, I think we had our final breakup over a year ago.  She called me today because her daughter got sent home from school today – for threatening suicide.  The child’s grandmother, who drives her to and from school, who had to go pick her up, told her she had to “grow a thicker skin”.  I talked to the child myself tonight and she told me that she was being bullied at school, all the time – neither the mother nor the grandmother deny this – and this is at a small, Catholic school.

    So, in talking to my ex, I strongly recommended therapy.  I told her that suicide threats aren’t something you can ignore (her opinion is that the girl was just throwing a “tantrum”, or being a “drama queen”) and that the combination of the riddlin and some other medication she is on for ADD – along with teenage hormones, bullying, and everything else, makes for a very dangerous combination.  My ex (the mother) told me that she was bullied in school and made out just fine – she also implied that psychiatrists, psychologists – and even social workers, don’t really care to deal with a kid who has a “low IQ”.

    She told me that her daughter has to grow a thicker skin, that she isn’t smart enough to go very far in life, that her options are basically going to be becoming a nun or finding a “good husband”.  No, she was not being sarcastic.

    Now I have talked to this girl many times, held her when she cried, watched movies with her, taught her what I could about life – and I hate to see her going through the same sort of thing I went through as a young child.  Perhaps my anger at her mother is misplaced, perhaps I am going too far in thinking that this is negligent, stupid – and thoughtless.  I am concerned though, as I am any time a child talks about hurting themselves – especially when bullying is involved.

    I have no legal authority to do anything about this myself – and I have tried to explain to the girl’s mother the dangers of what is going on.  Apparently, she either doesn’t believe in therapy, or doesn’t believe it can help (but has no problem putting her daughter on psychiatric drugs…)

    I got too angry – and had to hang up before I told my ex what I really thought of her.  Am I overreacting to the situation?  Do kids talk about killing themselves all the time and not get any kind of reaction or help?  I’m at a loss here, I can’t understand how an adult could fail to take this seriously.

    “There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress.” - Mark Twain

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7 replies
  • polly7 (2614 posts)
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    1. No, you are not overreacting!

    Kids this age, bullied at school – especially those on drugs like Ritalin – are very prone to suicidal thoughts and if not given the emotional and mental health support they need, go through with it all the time.  A friend of mine’s sister lost her 13 y/0 daughter a few years ago.  It was the same bullying situation, but no drugs and minus the unfeeling attitude your ex’s daughter is being shown by those who should be most supporting her.  This is truly scary.


    Stronger, clearer warnings on the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours are being incorporated into the prescribing information for drugs used in the management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


    The new warnings advise that there have been reports of suicide-related events in patients treated with ADHD drugs. The reports involved thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, and in a very small number of cases, completed suicide. These events have been reported at various times during treatment, particularly at the start or during dose changes, and also after stopping the drug treatment.

    There are different types of ADHD drugs and the evidence varies with respect to the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours. This risk is already known for one ADHD drug, Strattera (atomoxetine), and was incorporated into its prescribing information and communicated in 2005.

    New information has emerged since to suggest that the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours may apply to all other ADHD drugs. There is little evidence to establish that these drugs cause suicidal thoughts and behaviours, but it is possible that they may contribute to the risk.

    It is important to note that people with ADHD may already have a slightly increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours. ADHD may also affect people who have other mental health conditions that are associated with an increased risk of suicide, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

  • Sweet freedom (390 posts)
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    2. Call the school counselor

    I did something similar when my daughter was young. Her friend talked of self harm and I didn’t know the parents at all, so I called the school counselor. To the child’s parents, I remained anonymous and the counselor took action (counseling the child at school every week, etc.)

    It may not be a perfect approach, but it may be all you can do and hopefully will help her.

    Can you reach out to the girl and let her know you’re there for her, as well?

  • goodgirl (2180 posts)
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    3. No, you aren't overreacting.

    My granddaughter committed suicide at the age of 14 by taking an overdose of Adderall, her ACHD medication.  It happens, and she needs to be taken seriously.

    Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.    John F. Kennedy
    • polly7 (2614 posts)
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      4. Oh no ….

      I’m so sorry.  :hug:

      • goodgirl (2180 posts)
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        5. It was awful.

        She was depressed because her brother had died 4 months earlier from a pulmonary embolism.  My husband still can’t get beyond the pain of it.  He had talked to her a few days before and he said she sounded down.  He feels guilty and always will.

        Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.    John F. Kennedy
        • polly7 (2614 posts)
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          6. I lost my Dad to suicide and I know how the feeling of guilt eats at you.

          I’m so sorry about your grandson as well ……. I can imagine being that young and losing a brother, it would have been horrible pain.  Your husband couldn’t have known that she was thinking what she was, it would have been natural for her to be devastated and seem down …. for a long time.  So sad.

  • Silver Witch (5949 posts)
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    7. Bless your heart David My first suicide attempt was at 8

    the child needs an advocate and I think you did good to not drive over and shake that mother.

    Suicide is never a “threat”. It is always serious.   Perhaps you could try again with the Ex and recommend having the daughter talk to a counselor at school. They still have those don’t they.

    May I also suggest sending the girl a note to let her know one adult heard her.  It was one adult that let me know they cared that kept me going for a decade  one kind word is sometimes all it takes

    Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost~John Quincy Adams