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Threatening Suicide

answered 05:39 PM EST, Thu April 05, 2012
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My sister is 17. She broke up with her boyfriend last night. He is 23. They were video chatting and he was begging her to take him back. Eventually he grabbed a butcher knife and held it to his own throat and said he was going to kill himself unless she gave him another chance. He swore he would change (he had not been treating her very nicely and was controlling which was why she was breaking up) and begged her to give him another chance. She said OK. I think she did not know what else to do. So know they are back together again but it’s like it is against her decision. He is forcing them to stay together. What can I do to help her get free from this guy? Is what he is doing against the law? I feel like he needs to be locked up to deal with some serious mental problems.

Jill Palmer Says...

Wow. Using threats of suicide to get someone back sounds manipulative and very scary. There is no way to tell whether he would have tried to kill himself or if he was simply threatening her as a way of control. Either way, it's not a good situation for your sister to be in. It's important for her to be in relationships that she wants to be in and not ones she is forced to be in.

I don't know if threatening suicide is illegal in your state so there might not be anything legal you can do. You can always find an attorney to consult with to be sure. You can also go to the police station and ask questions about stalking laws in your state or to see if the boyfriend has a prior offense. Please don't be afraid to get the police involved if it looks like things could escalate. It's better to be safe than sorry.

As for how to help her get free, does she want to "break up" with him again or does she want to try to make it work so he doesn't hurt himself? You can't help her do something she doesn't want to do. If she does want to break free, I would proceed with caution. You don't know what this guy is capable of doing. I would make sure she is safe first and foremost. This could be a very serious situation so I would treat it as such. Do your parents know? Does the boyfriend have family that you could talk to so they know what is going on? Can she break up with him when other people are around so he can't harm himself or your sister in that moment? Is there a safe place she can go if he does "flip out"? Get every interaction with him documented in case you do have enough to file any charges. Your sister should be very careful and get herself out of this situation (at least until he is more stable emotionally).

Please be careful.

Sincerely, Jill Palmer, LPC

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Page last updated Apr 05, 2012

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