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CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

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CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Casual scribe

CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

I'm not sure if this forum is the place for me, but I have done a lot of searching and this place seems to be the closest I can find to the support I am hoping to find. 


My son is a young adult, 23 yrs old. He has suffered from depression for yrs and with that also became addicted to alcohol and drugs. When he was younger, I tried to get him help but he refused to corporate, and I couldn't afford to force him into a treatment center.  (I live in the USA and our mental health and substance abuse treatment places seem to be only for the rich) To be totally honest I also didn't want to believe things were as bad as they were.

Well January 31st changed my life forever.  I received the next to worst phone call you could ever receive as a parent. It was 4:40 am and my phone rang from our only local hospital, which I happen to work at, and I happened to be getting ready to go to work. I thought to myself, " no one from my dept. should be there yet, who the heck is calling?" So, I answered it and it was the ER telling me my son was there.

The next words brought me to my knees. They told me my son had attempted to take his own life. I didn't hear anything after that. I screamed for my husband and spit out what couple of words I could, and we raced to the ER. When we arrived, they brought us to him.

THANK GOD he was alive and conscious. He was taken to a larger hospital 2 hrs away and we met him there. He was put on suicide watch, received medical attention and then taken to another hospital with psychiatric care. He spent 5 days there and went through detox. They released him a couple of days ago and he seems to be doing ok, he is getting outpatient care and is willing to go into their rehab once a bed opens up in a few weeks. I pray that he still feels that way when one opens up. 


Now that you have the back story, how do I deal with my guilt? Why didn't I find a way to force him into treatment before he became an adult? Why did I wish to believe it wasn't as bad as it was? Why didn't I text him back that morning before he did it? See, he had texted me the night before, but I didn't see his text till 4am the morning of. I thought about texting him but thought I didn't want to wake him, but this incident occurred at 4.15am. If I just would have texted him, just maybe he would have changed his mind. I am trying to be there for him without smothering him, but I am just so scared that he will go back to the alcohol and drugs, and then be right back where he was a week ago and try again. 


Thank you for letting me vent

Prolific scribe

Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Hi @ImNotOk , we're glad you found us and reached out. 


First off, I want to say how sorry I am for what you have been through with your son in the last few weeks. It's unbelievably challenging to ever see your child in pain as a parent, but this sounds like it has been a truly harrowing experience. I'm sorry you've had to go through that, but I'm very relieved to hear that your son is doing okay and that he's open to receiving some outpatient and rehab support. 


You mentioned not knowing how to deal with the guilt of what has happened, and it seems as though you've been questioning how things might have looked if you had done a few things differently.


Although these words might not resonate with you right now, please know that this is not your fault.


As you mentioned earlier, you couldn't afford to send your son to a treatment centre earlier on, and you also had no way of knowing that he was awake in the early hours of the morning when you thought about sending him a text. If you had had the resources to do so, or if you had have known that he was awake and needed to talk, there is no doubt in my mind that you would have done so, because it sounds as though you love him very deeply and you're always ready to offer him support. Hindsight can be unrelentingly vicious and can wreak havoc on your mind, but I hope that in time your feelings of guilt will subside because they are undeserved - you sound like a great parent who would always, always show up for their son. 


How are you coping after everything that has happened? Is there anyone in your life that you can talk to openly about how you're feeling, or perhaps a psychologist or counsellor that might be able to help you through as your son continues to recover? 


I'll be thinking of you @ImNotOk . I hope that things continue to improve from here and that your son gets well soon. Guilt and shame can't survive when they're dragged out into the light, so I hope that sharing your story has been helpful for you and that you can see that you're not alone. Sending all my best to you Heart


P.S. I edited some of the details out of your post to ensure that they are safe for the rest of the online community to read. This can be a really tough subject to talk about, so if you need any advice on how to post in a way that's not too distressing for others, feel free to check out our community guidelines. 

Casual scribe

Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Thank you for your reply, I'm still not ok and no I really don't have anyone that I can talk to about this. Counseling where I live is almost impossible to get and when it comes to friends or family, I have always been the strong one, so I cannot allow myself to break down in front of them.


As for an update on him, he is still waiting to get into treatment. He is doing as ok as he can. Work will not allow him to come back until he gets done with treatment, so it's been really hard on him having nothing to do that makes him feel worthwhile. He spent most of his time with me at my house when I got off work when he got released from the hospital, but while waiting for a bed in treatment he has become discouraged and has started to isolate himself again. 


All of this is just killing me,  I want to be supportive but not smothering. I want to be helpful but not enabling, the worst part is I was enabling before he did this because I was afraid that he would try something like this, so how do I not be knowing he's willing to go through with it? 


Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Message contains a hyperlink


Hello @ImNotOk , I am sorry to hear about what you went through and sorry that you are still not feeling okay. I imagine it would be really hard to not have anyone to talk to about this and not feel able to allow yourself to open up to your friends and family. Sometimes being the strong, supportive family member can be really hard when we are the ones that are needing some support of our own. It sucks that accessing local counselling services is particularly difficult and does not feel like an option at the moment.


Would you feel comfortable talking with a counsellor online or over the phone? There are various services such as helplines and online counselling services that would offer these instead if you would find that to be helpful. Unfortunately, we are an Australian service so our local support options won't be suitable. Although, I did find this website that lists various helplines available in the USA that looks like it could be useful if you are interested in talking with someone.


I can hear how much you care about your son in the words that you write, and I can also hear how tough this has been for you. It is understandable that you are wanting to support your son but are feeling unsure on how to best do so at the moment. Would you feel comfortable talking with your son about how you feel and seeing how he would feel best supported at the moment?

Casual scribe

Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Thank you for the link and I will look into the options. Just got some really bad news yesterday, the treatment center that he has been waiting to get into for the past 5 weeks, just told him that they can't take him because of all things, he's not on welfare!! Basically, he doesn't have government funded insurance, so they can't take him.  why didn't they tell us that from the get go? Now he is unwilling to wait any longer and is unwilling to go even if I find him somewhere else to go. He has been sober on his own for 5 weeks and thinks he can continue to do it with his out patient counseling. I want to believe he can and I am being nothing but supportive but I am losing my mind trying to deal with this all. I want to talk to him about how this has effected me and how hard this is for me, but I am so afraid of how he will react to me breaking down.


I'm not ok doesn't even begin to describe how I am feeling right now........

Super frequent scribe

Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Hi @ImNotOk 


I am so sorry to hear about the situation with the treatment centre. That must be such a blow for your son, but also for you knowing that extra support you were relying on isn't going to be there any more.


That's fantastic news that your son has been sober for 5 weeks, what a great achievement! I'm sure having your care and support really helped him get to that point. Will he be continuing to stay with you for a while or trying to get back to his life and job?


I think it's really important that you have some support throughout this. What you've been through is an immeasurable amount of anxiety, stress, upset, hurt and more. I know you mentioned before that you're the strong one in the family, but even the strong ones need support. I know that can be really difficult to admit and even more difficult to ask for help (I'm the strong one in my family, so I can understand how that feels!), but do you think that maybe the strongest thing to do in this situation is to be a bit vulnerable with your family and let them help?

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: CW: Support after my son attempted suicide

Hi I'm Not Okay,

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's attempt, your guilt and literally being dumped by the rehab centre you were looking at. Having hope and a plan and then have it dashed like that must be a huge let down. It's good that the outpatient clinic is working for him. Has he looking into Alcoholics Anonymous? I haven't had much experience with them personally but the system seems to help some people and I ike the idea of the mentorship provided by their sponsor. 


I think you mentioned that your son was 23. This is an awkward age to be back home with Mum and Dad and be dependent. I was sick in my mid 20s and had to move home after being out for awhile and it was hard. 

Your son needs you to be his rock, but it doesn't mean you need to be a rock. You're human and feel and have been through so much and you're still in the thick of it. Trying to do things that give you a bit of time out...a cup of tea, a walk, nature, photography. Just getting out of your box for a bit.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,


PS As I signed off there I remembered the importance of having a reason to live and having something to look forward to s also important for both of you.