A DISTURBING NOON PHONE CALL: How do you handle a friend who has some real issues in his life.

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jun 02, 2009 8:12 PM GMT
    A busy morning in my office just finished walking out with a client chit chatting when my assistant told me that "Craig" (I'll call him, a friend of mine) was on the phone and sounded upset.

    Craig has been a friend since 2002. Big hearted, friendly, 40 years old, 7 year old daughter (who he sees frequently, who lives in Oklahoma City), partnered (with someone he has cheated on frequently... but so has the partner), life is always in drama, very educated and has a great job (earns about $130,000 a year), spends money like its water (his father gives him money.. which helped supplement the $12,000 he spend on his 40th birthday party)... and always seems to have great friends around.
    About 6 months ago he bought a house in OKC to be near his daughter and got a transfer.... but now he hates it, "hates the house" (as he puts it) and is trying to get another job back up here, because it was just a "mistake" to move there... "All my friends are in Wichita", he says....

    So I get the call.. He's sobbing, crying. Telling me that he and his partner have finally broken up. He wants to know if "I'm really a friend" since a number of those he always has thought were friends have told him to go away. "I might want to hang out, can I come stay with you if need be", he asks. I am supportive (as always, during one of these calls...), but this one is different. "I'm at the worst point in my life", he says.. "I bought a gun and everything"...
    I'm stunned and reminding him of all the positive things in his life and he is crying so much he can't even finish a sentence. "I'm ok he says, I'm going to go to lunch with a friend down here" (in OKC)... "but I just thought it was time to reach out to you".

    I leave for lunch and call my bf (who doesn't think too much of Craig). He told me "Craig" needs help and I should encourage him to get counseling.
    "He has never really been a friend to you, he just wants your sympathy,
    someone needs to slap him and tell him to wake up and take responsibility".

    While I don't like drama, I do want to help him out. Any ideas?
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    Jun 02, 2009 8:25 PM GMT
    Call a suicide hotline or 911 and tell them what is up. If he is upset and says he has a gun that can mean one of two things.

    1) He is thinking about suicide
    2) He wants you to think he is thinking about suicide for more sympathy

    You don't want to be wrong if it is the first one. Even if he is a jerk that needs to get a grip, if he does shoot himself you are going to feel guilty.

    Call. It will be a first step to getting this guy help.
  • Hagan_F

    Posts: 210

    Jun 02, 2009 8:43 PM GMT
    Hndsm,

    I have to agree with your bf in this case. You have been a better friend to him than he has been to you. Is this worth more of your time. There is a difference between being supportive and being used and I think you are getting very close to the latter in this case.

    I doubt that your "friend" really meant anything by telling you he bought a gun but it is always a possibility that he did in which case this is far out of your league to be of any assistance anyway.

    I agree with your bf that you need to encourage him to seek counseling because, from all the other issues you've described about this person (the cheating, the impulsive move, breaking up, etc.), he has a LOT he needs to sort out and his suicidal ideation is just the latest symptom.

    Good luck, you know I want to be supportive of you as well.
    Hagan
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    Jun 02, 2009 8:47 PM GMT
    I would have called the authorities first. The can put him under a mandatory 72 hour hold because he is a danger to himself.

    If someone tells you that they have purchased a gun is considering killing himself for christ-sakes believe.

    In the state of upsetness that he is in believe him. The bf is right he does have larger issues than you are equipped and trained to handle.

    That does not mean that you can't be there in some capacity.
    Good Luck. Have you had any further contact with him after the frantic phone?
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jun 02, 2009 8:58 PM GMT
    Ducky45 said

    Have you had any further contact with him after the frantic phone?



    It wasn't a frantic phone call. He was upset.. mentioned the gun thing in passing about mid way through the phone call. His friend was picking him up for lunch. Nope, I haven't heard from him since the earlier call.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:02 PM GMT

    NEVER assume that some one who claims to have the intention and the means to kill himself will not. Were I in your shoes, I would find out where Craig is now, call 911, report his suicide threat and ask for him to be taken to a hospital for assessment. He may be assessed and released or admitted voluntarily or against his will.

    Your friend may not be happy about you doing this or he may really want someone to stop him. Either way, he needs help and he needs to know that credible threats of suicide will be taken seriously and have consequences.

    I am not at all relieved by his parting comment that he is going to lunch with a friend. If he has alcohol with lunch than you just about a perfect storm of suicidal risk factors.

    I'm sorry you have been put in this position. But I urge you to act immediately and robustly.

    Please let us know how it goes.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:04 PM GMT
    he sounds like a 10 year old having a tantrum lol. pouty 'cause he doesn't like his new location and misses his friends, and guilt tripping those around him with dramatic suicide threats into coddling him? sounds like whether its serious psych issues or a devastating bout of genuine depression, he needs help- the kind a friend just can't give.

    be careful about giving him too much attention- he may latch on and suck you in with further shows of suicidal instability. i've heard horror stories of relationships that drag on miserably for years because one threatens the other to off himself if the other leaves. living nightmare. i'd tell a doctor with authority and put him in touch, then keep him at arms length.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:05 PM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidWhile I don't like drama, I do want to help him out. Any ideas?

    I agree with your BF -- verdict: drama queen. Be sympathetic, direct him towards professional counseling, especially in case he is emotionally unstable, but don't get drawn into his own personal Hell.

    This is what these guys will do, but it helps neither you nor him. Let yourself get pulled in, and it will become chronic for both of you.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:10 PM GMT
    What if "Craig" stumbles across this thread????
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:11 PM GMT
    well if he wasnt much of a friend.....why do you care? i get that he just dropped that bomb on you and you now feel obligated to help but at the end of it you know he wasnt a good friend and have not spoken to you in ages....but let me just say thats how people who want attention gets it. Ignore him and live your life.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:25 PM GMT
    MunchingZombie saidCall a suicide hotline or 911 and tell them what is up. If he is upset and says he has a gun that can mean one of two things.

    1) He is thinking about suicide
    2) He wants you to think he is thinking about suicide for more sympathy

    You don't want to be wrong if it is the first one. Even if he is a jerk that needs to get a grip, if he does shoot himself you are going to feel guilty.

    Call. It will be a first step to getting this guy help.


    If he bought a gun all he needs is stimulus to use it. A bottle of booze is enough stimulus. Call the cops like Munching Zombie said.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:28 PM GMT
    Better safe than sorry, call the police.
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:32 PM GMT
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    Jun 02, 2009 9:52 PM GMT
    I would handle this at a distance...if he his suicidal, he may also be homicidal as well; heed the above advice and call the police ASAP. Perhaps you should call his ex and warn him or ask him to intercede...?
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    Jun 02, 2009 10:37 PM GMT
    I'm not sure how good friends you and 'Craig' are, but I would hope if you do call someone a friend that it means something. If I were going through a hard time like he seems to be, even if it was for a dumb reason, I would hope the people I refer to as friends (as opposed to acquaintances) would be a lot more helpful than some of the people I've seen reply. And if I had someone I referred to as 'friend' in that situation I would definitely try to snap him out of it instead of worrying about being involved in 'drama'. I would possibly call for outside help if I determined that he was really suicidal.

    I do wonder though, it does seem that your post to him is a bit condescending. I'm not sure if I'm misreading it, but I don't really see the relevance of how much money he spends, and how much his father helps him, or how expensive his birthday was, to be of relevance to the issue. It just seems like you are bringing up unrelated negative qualities about him, in which case, maybe you should re-evaluate your relationship with him. I'm not saying you're wrong here, but if you see 'Craig' the way you made me see him in this post, well, that is not really how you should be seeing your friends, so your relationship with him may not be at a close enough level to where you can help him.
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    Jun 02, 2009 10:37 PM GMT
    Hmmmm....I'd call the appropriate state agencies to address the potential harm risk....then wash my hands of him. He sounds like a needy, drama-prone basketcase. Anyone who is willing to bring their drama into your life, in my admittedly opinionated opinion, isn't worth the time. Perhaps there's a reason his other 'friends' have told him to go away.
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    Jun 03, 2009 1:08 AM GMT



    That's a whole lot of really good advice HndsmKansan. We notice he said,
    "I'm at the worst point in my life", he says.. "I bought a gun and everything"... which can also mean murder-suicide thoughts.


    Have you tried contacting this fellow? We would have called 911 at the first mention of a weapon.
    Another reason to do so is so that he realizes, if this is just drama, that he CAN'T do this to friends that care. He needs to know that others WILL take him seriously.

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    Jun 03, 2009 1:11 AM GMT
    There is nothing wrong with calling his local police station, informing them of the situation, and having them go out and do a safety check. Sometimes a cry for help is really a cry for help. When in doubt, I help.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 03, 2009 1:19 AM GMT
    these are always tricky situations. regardless of what you do, i want to remind you that you can only do so much. you can be honest, you can offer help, you can open your heart, but at the end of the day, he will be the one to choose his actions. you can't beat yourself up for what he chooses.
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    Jun 03, 2009 1:20 AM GMT
    yeah, agree with the previous posts that you should call 911/local police. a 72-hour hold would be good since he is a danger to himself. even if he wasn't hysterical about having the gun, the intention and thought is still there.
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    Jun 03, 2009 1:26 AM GMT

    Any update on your friend?

    Here's a link to a suicide helpline that gives some advice on how to deal with people who are making threats of suicide:


    http://www.mhsanctuary.com/suicide/sui2.htm
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    Jun 03, 2009 1:31 AM GMT
    And you form of help is calling the gestapo on him? Classic. They'll probably kick in the door and shoot him 48 times because someone called and reported 'an unstable man with a gun'. He'll be in the morgue with a WTF look on his face.

    Either you care about the man and want to help him in what is a very emotional time for anyone, or you don't.

    Either you're his friend as he believes, you're not his friend but simply an acquaintance, or one of those people who are 'friendly' with wealthy people to suck off of their lavish lifestyle.

    You say he's a friendly, kind person who loves his daughter and won't be caught stealing your radio for crack money. Where is the issue in helping a loving, competent, non-mooching "friend" in his time of need?

    Anyhow, it comes down to two things: Are you his friend, and do you care?

    If you do you be true to yourself and help him or you don't, whichever may be your truth.
  • silverfox

    Posts: 3178

    Jun 03, 2009 1:46 AM GMT
    Rune saidI'm not sure how good friends you and 'Craig' are, but I would hope if you do call someone a friend that it means something. If I were going through a hard time like he seems to be, even if it was for a dumb reason, I would hope the people I refer to as friends (as opposed to acquaintances) would be a lot more helpful than some of the people I've seen reply. And if I had someone I referred to as 'friend' in that situation I would definitely try to snap him out of it instead of worrying about being involved in 'drama'. I would possibly call for outside help if I determined that he was really suicidal.

    I do wonder though, it does seem that your post to him is a bit condescending. I'm not sure if I'm misreading it, but I don't really see the relevance of how much money he spends, and how much his father helps him, or how expensive his birthday was, to be of relevance to the issue. It just seems like you are bringing up unrelated negative qualities about him, in which case, maybe you should re-evaluate your relationship with him. I'm not saying you're wrong here, but if you see 'Craig' the way you made me see him in this post, well, that is not really how you should be seeing your friends, so your relationship with him may not be at a close enough level to where you can help him.


    Well put Rune icon_exclaim.gif
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    Jun 03, 2009 2:00 AM GMT


    Ramshackle, "And you form of help is calling the gestapo on him? Classic. They'll probably kick in the door and shoot him 48 times because someone called and reported 'an unstable man with a gun'. He'll be in the morgue with a WTF look on his face."


    What would you say to Hndsmkansan if he takes this advice and then in a few days posts that the fellow killed himself?




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    Jun 03, 2009 2:20 AM GMT
    Ramshackle, I appreciate your observations and comments. As one who has "considered his options." I recall an interaction with a friend about a year ago. He knew I was in a bad place, we say down to talk and his question was "have you considered all your options?"

    My response was yes, he said I figured as much and I want you to know I want you around tomorrow, the next day, and those after.

    That small act of kindness really help me. I'll leave it at that.