Reacting to a Suicide Attempt

2 Apr

Dear LetterBalm: I’ve been close friends with Millie for many years. She was recently released from a treatment facility after she attempted suicide. This is a huge shock to all her friends because we never knew she was unhappy. In fact, I found out about it from her daughter after I couldn’t reach my friend. I’m not sure what to do now. I want to let her know that I love and care about her. Do I call her? E-mail her? Write her a note? What do I say? When can I see her?

–Shocked and Concerned

Indeed, you and your friends are, under the circumstances, perfectly justified in your shock and concern. But you must put your personal feelings aside and think about your friend. Ms. L.B. notes that your friend is recovering from a harrowing time (and is probably receiving therapy), and she may be reluctant to resume all the facets of her life right now. You want to let her know you’re a loving friend, yet give her room to respond in ways that work for her. Understand that it may take some time. Send her a simple handwritten note thusly:

Dear Millie,

I’ve heard that you’ve been through a difficult time, and I’m so sorry. I just want you to know that I love you and that I’m here for you always.

I remember how we both enjoyed our traditional lunch at the Boathouse after our bird watching. The forsythia is almost in bloom, and I will think of you as I walk through Central Park. I hope we can do this together soon.

You’re in my heart and my thoughts.

Love always,

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