I have a friend on social media whose brother died by suicide several months ago. She was the one who found him. They were close, and I think he was her last immediate family member. She has posted openly about how horrible this experience has been and how sad she feels.
More recently, however, her posts have become increasingly bleak. She shares that she’s having trouble sleeping and she is so sad and feels completely alone because she has no more family. She gets supportive comments from her Facebook “friends,” but continues to sound hopeless. She has started posting that she’s going to get off FB because all she can talk about is her brother and she knows everyone is sick of hearing about it. She writes that she does not think she will be here much longer.
I know that someone who hints at suicide should not be dismissed, especially given her experience with her brother’s suicide. We went to school decades ago but were not close friends. I don’t know her personally very well, and we live several hours apart. How can I help her if she really is thinking about suicide? It seems critical to me, but I don’t know what I should do or how fast to act.
— Caring In Virginia
Dear Caring: Contact your friend through messaging on Facebook, tell her you are concerned about her, and ask to talk with her. You are right to be concerned. Urge her to join a grief support group or talk with a mental health professional about her loss and feelings of depression and isolation. Give her the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. If she calls the hotline, she may be able to get a referral there. You are being a good friend. Let’s hope she takes our advice.
Dear Abby: I am a successful career woman in my 50s. My husband is in his 40s. We decided several years ago that he could stop working, as my income is enough for both of us. He runs our household and is invaluable to me, not only as manager of our household, but also because he looks after the affairs of both our aging parents. Our kids are grown, so there’s no need for child care.
When we go to social functions, invariably he gets asked, “So, what do you do?” When we say he’s retired, people look at him suspiciously. I suspect they think he’s taking advantage of me, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no way I could be as successful in my career without his support. What would be a good response? I think it hurts his feelings, but he keeps it quiet.
— Good Thing Going
Dear Good Thing: Congratulations on having a partnership that is working so well. People often ask this question as a way of starting a conversation with someone they don’t know. Your husband might answer it by saying, “I’m retired now, but I used to work in ----. What do YOU do?”
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