Well Scott, you have a difficult choice to make. You can either try to continue to encourage and support her to get help, or simply bring this relationship to an end.
This is a very difficult situation, and to be honest, there is no simple solution.
Until someone with a problem accepts that there is a problem, they won’t do anything about solving it. That’s the first hurdle. The second is convincing them that help is available, and that the should accept it.
Sustained gentle persuasion is at least part of the answer. Just being there to listen, and letting the person know that you are there for them may let them build up enough trust inside themselves to begin to deal with it.
You may not to be able to solve their problem, or for that matter understand how they feel, but just listening and letting them talk can be really helpful.
Getting people to open up can be difficult. It has to be done sensitively so that the person does not feel put down or alienated. A gentle approach like ‘It must be difficult feeling as you do. Perhaps we could talk about it? is often the best start.
Choose your time and place carefully if possible so that the person feels as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Try to make sure that the person feels that you are on their side, and try to use ‘open questions’ – ones that don’t allow a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.
Don’t try to give them solutions, because as they open up and talk, the person begins to find their own solutions.
Good beginnings are:
Where – 'Where did that happen?'
When – 'When did you find out……?'
What – 'What else was happening?'
How – 'How did you feel?'
Can you tell me…….
How are you feeling? This helps to get past the bare facts of a situation, and lets people
begin to look at their inner turmoil.
Don’t push hard or try to tell them what they MUST do – give them space and time to talk.
Get a couple of magazine articles about depression, and leave them lying around
There are some things you can do, and here are some tips:
What you can say that helps:
I’m here for you – you’re not alone.
What causes these thoughts and feelings is a real illness, and it can be treated..
You may not believe it now, but someday, this will pass and you’ll feel differently.
I care about you and want to help, even if I don’t really understand what you are going through right now, how you feel, and what you’re thinking
Don’t ever give up – just hang on one more minute or hour – whatever you can.
You are important to me. Your life is important to me, and to everybody who knows you
I’d like you to tell me what I can do now to help you.
We can get through this together
Cheer up- it could be worse
Quit worrying about it – you’ll be fine
Your just imagining it, it’s all in your head.
Everybody feels like this sometimes
Why do you want to die – look at the life you’ve got.
You’ll just have to help yourself
I’d have thought you would be better by now.
Get over it and snap out of it.
Grow up and act like an adult.
What’s the matter with you anyway?
You’ll also find some helpful information here:
Also the Samaritan’s web site in the UK here is a mine of useful information which will help you, as is the National Suicide Prevention line (in the USA), which you will find here.
Ultimately, of course, a person can be hospitalized against their will, but only under the strictest of circumstances.
The laws of committal vary from State to State, but in general there are broad similarities.
Committal is a legal means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment when required. It can be voluntary or involuntary.
A voluntary committal is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment freely and of their own accord
An involuntary committal is when a person is taken to a facility for involuntary examination.
This can only be done when :
There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness
The person has refused voluntary examination and
The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, and the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being;
and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.
A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.
A law enforcement officer may take an individual to a facility for evaluation if he has reason to believe that the individual's behavior meets the statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.
If a person is willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that he has personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an "ExParte" for an Involuntary Examination can be made.
A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours on primary committal.
These are general guidelines, and you should get legal advice as to what specifically applies in your State.
In the end of the day, however, you might have to consider whether or not this relationship is worth saving.
I can understand the moral and practical dilemmas you are facing, and to help you find a way out, I’m going to suggest that you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
It’s not that I think that there is anything wrong with you, it’s simply that being able to discuss these issues and get some clarity will help you make the best decisions that you can.
CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.
These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.
If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,
the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.
Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.
Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.
Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.
Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:
If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:
Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.
Best wishes, NormanM