DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, I have wanted to break up with my boyfriend, but every time I work up the courage to do it, he brings up his depression. This is something he has suffered with for years. I feel bad leaving him while he is going through such a hard time, but I do not know how much longer I can stay in this relationship. How do I end things without leaving him without a support system? -- Ready to Go, Detroit
DEAR READY TO GO: Unless you are a licensed mental health professional, you are not in the position to be a proper support system for your boyfriend. This doesn't mean that you should just dump him. As you know, a person suffering from depression can be emotionally fragile.
Out of kindness and genuine caring for him, urge your boyfriend to see his doctor and get help right now since he is in the throes of the disease. If you are able to get him to the doctor, you will be doing him an enormous favor.
That said, know that this may not be possible. Ultimately, you have to take care of yourself. If you do not think you can handle his depression, let go. Tell him you think it is time for the two of you to part ways. You will always respect him, but you need to make a change in your life. Tell him you hope he will take care of himself.
If he has family or friends who are in touch with him, you may want to touch base with one or more of them to suggest that they keep an eye out for him.