Someone I know talks to alters and is a little paranoid. Is she more at risk for suicide because of this?
You're friend is so fortunate to have a someone as loving and caring as you in their lfe. When you're hearing that your friend talks to alters and is a little paranoid, it's understandably concerning and can be scary. Sometimes, when someone is going through a very difficult time, it can increase their risk for suicide, so it's so good and important that you reached out to Ask Trevor for help in ways to keep your friend safe.
Jessica, please know that we at the Trevor Project care about you and your friend. When someone talks to alters it can be part of a dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) which is an effect of severe trauma that occurs during early childhood, usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Someone with dissociative identity disorder has two or more distinct or split identities or personality states (alters) that continually have power over the person's behavior. The "alters" or different identities have their own age, sex, or race. Each has his or her own postures, gestures, and distinct way of talking. As each personality reveals itself and controls the individuals' behavior and thoughts, it's called "switching." Switching can take seconds to minutes to days. Along with the dissociation and multiple or split personalities, people with dissociative disorders may experience any of the following symptoms: depression, mood swings, sleep disorders(insomnia, night terrors and sleep walking), anxiety, panic attacks, alcohol and drug use, eating disorders and as you mentioned, an increase in suicidal thoughts. You and your friend can learn more about dissociative identity disorder on http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder and http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Helpline&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=20562&gclid=CPGz7an47LICFcqj4AodqlEAsg. There are things you can do to determine if your friend is at risk for suicide. Listen to hear if they express suicidal feelings such as “Lately I’ve felt like ending it all.” If your friend hasn't expressed suicidal thoughts, you could ask if your friend is thinking about killing themselves. By asking your friend, you won't be putting that idea into their head. If they're thinking about it, they thought about it long before you asked them. If they are thinking about suicide, it's important to ask if they have thought about how they'd do it and when they'd do it. Having a suicidal plan and a time to do it puts a person at very high risk for a suicide attempt. If your friend is thinking about suicide, it's very important for their safety that you not keep that information a secret, even if tey ask you to, and for you to immediately tell a trusted adult such as a parent, friend's parent, relative, teacher, school counselor or doctor about those thoughts in order to keep your friend safe. If your friend ever feels that they're going to act on the thoughts of suicide immediately call 911 or get them to your nearest hospital emergency room. For additional support, your friend could call the Trevor lifeline at 1-866-4-U-Trevor, 24 hours 7 days a week. Our caring, understanding and supportive counselors are here to talk with your friend about everything they're feeling and going through and want to do whatever is needed to keep them safe. Other things that could increase your friend's risk for suicide is if they're feeling hopeless and helpless, feeling that thing will never get better for them, saying goodbye to important people (“You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. I’ll miss you.”), expressing a lack of interest in the future (“It won’t matter soon anyway”) and expressing a negative attitude toward themselves (“I don’t deserve to live”). It might help you and your friend to know that there is treatment for dissociate identity disorder, depression and ways to deal with suicidal thoughts including therapy and/or medication. On http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder?page=4 and http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/916186-treatment you and your friend can learn more about treatment for dissociative identity disorder and on www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen_teenagers.htm you and your can learn more about depression and its treatment It can help to talk with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist about what your friend is feeling and going through in order to get the correct treatment to help them to feel better and to help them to see choices and options they may not be aware that they have. On http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/ your friend can search for mental health services in their area.
Jessica, when your being such an important and helpful support to your friend who's going through such a hard time, it can also affect you emotionally and it would be important for you to get the support that you need. It might help you to talk with a friend, parent, teacher or school counselor. You could call the Trevor lifeline and talk with one of our supportive counselors. You could join Trevorspace at www.trevorspace.org The Trevor Project's safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) young people ages 13 to 24. It's a great supportive community where you can connect with people all over some of whom may be going through similar issues. Please continue to reach out for help and support. Remember that you and your friend can always call the Trevor Lifeline 24 hours, 7 days a week. Please know that you and your friend don't have to go through this alone as we're always here for the both of you at The Trevor Project.