Friend with suicidal ideation does not want support
Last year, in April, a dear friend of mine (I will call them X) suddenly stopped talking to me and started ignoring everyone. After I sent increasingly worried messages, X assured me they were fine and I had done nothing wrong, but then made little contact with myself or any other mutual friends we have (X is a high school friend of mine - I did not see them often in person any more due to university). I did my best to check in with X periodically, but rarely received responses.
Fast forward to January of this year, another friend of mine (I will call them Y) and myself received a message from X revealing that the reason they went silent was because they had been having suicidal thoughts. X then proceeded to demand that we do not tell anyone under any circumstances, or it would push them somewhere darker. One of the first things online suicide prevention websites say to do is directly ask if the person is suicidal, so I did: X said yes. X also said they had no plan yet, but their mind was defaulting more and more to the thought of it. X also told me their parents do not know, and they do not plan on seeking any support from parents, other family, friends or mental health professionals. X also refuses to see, call, or message myself or Y - apparently we are the only 2 people X has told, which terrifies me.
Since then, I have been at a loss over what to do. I have talked to my psychologist and Lifeline, read multiple suicide prevention blogs, and reached out to friends and family for advice. I don't know if I should tell X's parents, or breach the boundary they clearly set when they said they did not want to talk or meet - I know that, if I do, it will likely shut down whatever hope of communication Y and I have with X since they may see it as betrayal. I don't know what risk factors are behind X's suicidal thoughts, or how long X has had to bear this burden. X also quickly shut me down when I tried to ask further questions. I have been sending messages to check in, but I have received no responses beyond X messaging me 'thanks' after I sent them a list of hotlines and resources I received from a Lifeline counsellor in January.
I truly don't know what to do. I have no way of knowing if X is okay. I just want to support my friend. Does anyone have any advice about what I should do, or any personal insight?
A reminder that Community Champions here are persons with lived experience with their own mental health issues, we are not professional medical staff.
The one time I made an attempt on my life I had no one that I could confide in. However, had I been fortunate enough to have a friend or two that I could share my struggles with and I had demanded/asked them to keep it private, then that trust would be paramount to my health and well being. The fact is, such trust she has place in both of you is an honour, very special indeed. She has been elusive for several months and finally decided to let you both know. That alone tells me there is hope but penetrating the walls she has erected will take a very tactful approach, gentle suggestions to meet up and chat. In effect you both are the most important people in her world, hence a breach of trust will or could plummet her hopes of any companionship in the future.
So, my suggestion is to build on that trust to go as far as you can possibly go in being close to her. Try to meet up in a neutral place (Cafe?) and try to make it a routine meet. Dont divulge to anyone of her circumstances because only she knows them and she might know some things about her relationship with her parents that you dont know, besides thats where professionals do their best work.
You've provided essential contacts for her if she desires. That's great and that is now out of the way. Now, embrace her as a loyal friend, which is gold. Regularly let her know her secret is not going to be spread.
Thankyou for asking here and good luck.
Hello! Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and sharing your experience. I appreciate your insight.
I will, and am currently trying to, do my best in building up trust with X. Hopefully X will start responding again soon. I hope that we will eventually come to a point where X will want to meet up. It's just hard to tell if we will ever get to that point - all attempts at checking in, sending funny memes or inviting her to do things have largely been ignored since last year. I'm holding out hope though.
Thanks for listening 🙂