Suicidal Boyfriend

Charmaine, my boyfriend is extremely suicidal and I want to know how I can do my best to be supportive and help him look at life & himself more positively.

Last October he herniated 2 disks in his lower back and hasn't been able to work out since. He's a football player and this is his first time since he was 7 where he's not able to be athletic. Doctors have had him doped up & addicted to painkillers since then. He feels like a freak, and I constantly tell him and show him that he's beautiful and very special. He feels like a failure, that his only career goal has been put down the drain and he has no willpower in life. He has "set the date" of his probable suicide to be at the end of the summer. I lost my sister when I was 12 and so I know what it's like to be depressed and suicidal.

How can I help him? I want to do my best to be positive and happy with him but he doesn't want to talk about this and just escape through his drugs by taking them till he's "high." I'm trying to help him but I'm not in the best mental state - my health is bad and my parents just got separated after 29 years together. Help!

A. I'm sorry for all your troubles. As hard as it might sound, the first thing you need to do is to be aware of your boundary issues, in other words, clearly delineate in your own mind where you finish and your fellow starts.

If you lock into all his problems, you will not only be unable to help him but you will in fact drown yourself.

Having done that, try to prioritise the things that need dealing with in order of urgency. That way, you will be able to manage the chaos in bite-size chunks instead of feeling overwhelmed by everything at once.

Next, as far as you can, calm the emotions of the situation down. You will be a much better support if you yourself feel centred. Achieve this by taking time-out wherever you can get it, walking around nature or sitting in a garden - simple but effective techniques.

Life often seems to dish out a lot at once but remember that even the darkest night always sees a morning. Never give up and try to instil this message into your man; keep reaffirming the beauty of life even in the worst times and remind him that things CAN get better. This is not a glib answer but a real solution. However, you cannot want to live for another person or MAKE them happy. If he's an addict, maybe the worst thing you can do is try to help. He really needs professional counselling but be a friend as far as you can without letting it affect your emotional and physical health too much.

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