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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Reluctant to Let Go of Dead Husband's Family

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend I'll call "J.D.," who is being abused by his father. It started after his mother died, when J.D. was 6.

I have known about the abuse for some time, but it recently went to extremes. J.D. called another friend, crying, asking for the number of a suicide hotline. I called J.D. the next day asking if he was all right, and he said that despite almost stabbing himself, he was fine.

I am really concerned, but I can't tell anyone. If I do, it might get back to his father who will take it out on him. J.D. insists that he doesn't need help, even though he hates his father and is hit regularly. It kills me to see my friend this way. Please give me some advice on what to do because I am truly confused and concerned. -- TRUE FRIEND IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR TRUE FRIEND: Some secrets are meant to be kept, and others are not. When you know that someone is in so much pain he or she is talking about committing suicide, it is time to see that person gets help. You can do that for J.D. by telling your parents, a teacher or counselor at school or your cleryperson. Educators and the clergy are mandated by law to report physical abuse when they know it is going on.