My ex is depressed and suicidal, help!

Hi Auntie. I’ve recently started talking to my ex, to see if he’s doing okay, only to find out that he’s depressed and suicidal. I’m scared because he’s thought about suicide lately and I don’t want to lose him. Help.

You’re doing the right thing now by reaching out. You and your ex need support and I’m happy to point you in the right direction. If your friend tells you he or she is feeling suicidal, take it seriously. Hearing this might make you feel overwhelmed or worried, especially if your ex is very upset or angry, but there are steps you can take to help.

First, make sure you’re safe

Before you can get your ex help, you need to make sure you’re okay. For whatever reason, if you feel your safety might be at risk, please talk to a trusted adult a.s.a.p. Tell them about your ex and ask them to help intervene instead of you being the only one helping. Although your ex is very important, you need to keep yourself safe first and foremost.

Your friend might be at Immediate Risk for suicide if he’s…

  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun

…you should immediately call 911, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or a mental health professional you can find through your tribal clinic, or school counselor.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take Action. If you are worried about your ex, ask him if he has been thinking about killing himself. Listen without judgment or acting shocked. Having someone to talk to honestly can help him. This would work whether you are talking to your ex in person, on the phone, texting, or interacting online.
  • Don’t keep it a secret! Whatever you do please do not swear to secrecy ever. When someone has suicidal thoughts it is an emergency, and it’s a situation the two of you are not prepared to handle alone.
  • Choose what to say. If you’re not sure what to say, you might try saying “I’m worried about you” or “I don’t like seeing you upset,” or “I want to help you.” Whatever you decide, be direct and don’t act shocked by what he may say. 
  • GET HELP! Talk with a trusted adult, or mental health professional – If your ex is depressed and suicidal, it is essential you get help. Ask him to talk to a trusted adult, or better yet help him to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional (like a counselor, psychologist, doctor, or nurse). You can check with your school, tribal clinic, or just Google “counseling services + the name of your town” and this should give you some places.

Check out – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

  • CALL: 1-800-273-8255, which is a 24-hour toll-free phone line to talk with a trained volunteer about how to talk about suicide with your friend or how to help them get connected with a trusted adult or health professional
  • TEXT: “START” to 741741
  • CHAT: They also have an online chat option available for you and your friend

If your ex refuses to get help, you should go to talk to a parent, family member, teacher, counselor, or someone you trust. Or call the Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). It is important to take their words seriously until a mental health professional has had a chance to talk to your friend to see how they are feeling.

You can also check out the Lived Experience video interviewing Native youth about how they deal with their thoughts of suicide, maybe it will help you and your ex.

I’ll be keeping you and your ex in my thoughts and prayers. You’ve done a smart thing by reaching out. Good luck.

Auntie Manda

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