DEAR ABBY: My son, "Sean," is only 13, but he will be attending his best friend's funeral. "Frank" died by his own hand. Apparently he had told many of his friends that he was going to kill himself, but no one took him seriously.
I am writing in the hope that my letter will alert children and adults that children and adolescents sometimes mean it when they threaten suicide. I pray parents will instruct their children to ALWAYS tell an adult if one of their friends talks about suicide. I have done that now, but unfortunately it is too late to help Frank. -- GRIEF-STRICKEN IN MARYLAND
DEAR GRIEF-STRICKEN: Please extend my deepest sympathy to the parents of your son's friend. And thank you for giving me the chance to point out that threats of suicide, and repeated comments about suicide, can be symptoms of serious illness and should be taken seriously. Many young people are reluctant to "rat" on their friends, but when it comes to talk of suicide, experts say that keeping a secret can result in losing a friend. Skilled professional help is needed for intervention.
Professional counseling should also be made available to the survivors of the suicide -- and that includes family members and friends -- to help them cope with their own feelings of guilt and depression.
DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, I retired from my teaching job so I could travel with my husband, "Bill," on his international business trips. At the time, Bill earned a very high salary. Since then, Bill has been laid off and has taken an early retirement. He now putters around the house, painting the shutters, working in the yard and thoroughly enjoying himself.
This is not the life I expected, and I am becoming increasingly depressed. I was never much of a housewife and wouldn't have left my job had I known this would be the outcome. I have a part-time job in a dress shop, but it's hardly a challenging career. I want to travel. I want to have fun.
We have a net worth in excess of $1 million, but Bill has always been concerned about our finances and wants to manage them so that we can set up college funds for our grandchildren, leave a substantial amount to our children, and budget $7,500 a year for vacations, including trips to visit family. This doesn't leave much.
If I tell my husband how I feel it will hurt him terribly. What should I do? -- RELUCTANTLY RETIRED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR RETIRED: Before you become more depressed, have a frank talk with your husband. Explain that you were not prepared for his early retirement. It may be time for you to return to teaching on a part-time basis or to find another job that will enable you to earn the kind of money you need to travel more extensively. If your husband doesn't want to go, there are travel clubs and tours for "singles."
You and Bill also need to reach a meeting of the minds about how money should be allocated. If you can't manage to agree, then the two of you should seek professional counseling. Please, don't put it off. Disagreements about money have destroyed marriages.
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