A long time friend of mine who is 19 has been depressed for quite some time. He is bisexual but has not told his parents, family, or most of close friends. In fact I am one of just a few who know. He recently has become infatuated with a 17 year old friend, however has been too afraid to come out to him. He is completely fearful of being rejected and outed. He has low self esteem, calls himself worthless, and has told me he wants two things: To be able to tell his friend how he feels, and to no longer exist. He said he wants to die. When asked if he is considering suicide, he said he is not as he would hurt too many people… But he is obviously still contemplating it. He cuts himself frequently when depressed, and has told me such, I’ve seen the scabs and scars. I have told him to go to counseling, which is a free service at his College, sent him the sign up info and even offered to drive 2 hours to meet him and go with him to his first session for support. He says he doesn’t want to be happy, he doesn’t deserve it, and that the counselors would just laugh. He no longer thinks reasonable in this way. I do not know if his parents would be supportive of his sexuality as they are very conservative, but someone close to him needs to get him the help he needs, since he will not get it himself and I cannot force him to go. Should I contact his parents? This issue is tearing me up inside now as well and I am suffering, I am out of options to help him, but I cannot leave him when I am afraid he could do something terrible. I am gay myself so I understand what he’s feeling, but I am almost certain he is clinical depressed has he has become irrationally sad over this. What should I do to help my friend?
I first want to highly commend you for the help and support you have offered your friend. It can leave a person feeling so helpless when that help is refused. Further, it becomes even more distressing when it is someone that we care so much about. Watching a loved one/friend actually hurt themself physically is not only frustrating but scary as well. We all want those we care about to be happy and healthy. I know you would love to see this for your friend. However, no one can make him get the help he needs. You are a very compassionate and strong person to have hung in there with him and not given up on him, even if it seems he has given up on himself.
I woud like to address a very important point in all of this. Being there for someone is one thing but taking on that person’s problem as your own can present problems for yourself as well. I want to advocate first that you take care of you first. It’s so easy to allow yourself to feel guilty and drained by someone else’s problems. Take care to try not to allow that to happen or you will not be much use to your friend when he does actually want the help. Your heart seems so big! Just try not to give away too much of it without being able to get restoration for yourself. Now, with that being said, I will share some information that you may find helpful and helpful for your friend as well. First, contacting the Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or by visiting their website at http://www.aglp.org for help in finding someone in your area for you to talk and work with. You may want to share with your friend that these folks are very familiar with issues just like the one he is dealing with and would never laugh at him. Also,on http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen_teenagers.htm you can learn more about depression and its treatment. On http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/ you can search for mental health services in your area. As far as the cutting, there are a lot of reasons this occurs. For some, it is a release of anger. For others, feeling things are out of control cutting is a way of controlling their own pain. Some cut to see if they can actually feel physical pain over the emotional pain they are experiencing. And still others have anger about others in their life and feel they have to take it out on themselves. But, continuing to cut can cause some long-lasting even fatal results. He could develope infections, accidentally cut a major artery. Even if he doesn’t intend to committ suicide he could accidentally “do it right” by cutting an artery and die. Offering him healthier alternatives to cutting can help. You can educate yourself and him by going to websites that focus on these alternatives. One website available is http://www.safe-alternatives.com. It is sad when we watch a loved-one hurt themself and we are helpless to help. But, knowledge and information can empower you and your friend.Another resource you and your friend can use is by contacting 1-800-DON’T-CUT where you can be referred to a therapist in your area. Cutting can be difficult to stop and I would advocate considering telling a school counselor, a family member, or teacher. If that’s not possible then please consider one of the above options As far as coming out to family, friends, and others it is a difficult decision because we are never sure of the reprocussions. Seeking out support thru PFLAG is an option. There you will find “parents, friends, and family of lesbians and gays”. They can help you in many ways including giving their personal testimony as to how they handled their child or friend telling them that they are gay or lesbian. .
Again, I commend you for reaching out because it not only can help you help your friend, but help you help yourself as well. Remember, we here at Trevor are always a phone call away by dialing 866-4-U-TREVOR where you can speak to one of our counselors. You are never alone in your struggles! Niether is your friend. Both of you could choose to go to TrevorSpace which is a safe social networking program available for youth 13-24. There you just may find others struggling with just this issue/s. It has been a blessing to me personally to have been a part of this journey with you. Feel free to contact Trevor whenever you would like. Thanks so much!