DEAR HARRIETTE: Thanks for addressing teen suicide. If a teen says he or she is suicidal, has a plan and has the means to complete that plan, then he or she should be hospitalized. These criteria are objective. Sometimes you have to ask questions to obtain this information, and some readers may be nervous about doing that. If that's the case, please remember that talking about suicide does not make people suicidal. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org), is a great resource. -- Want to Help
DEAR WANT TO HELP: I appreciate your follow-up regarding teen suicide.
This discussion reminds me of my teenage years. My best friend died by suicide on her 16th birthday. When I remember the days and months leading up to her death, I recall being so close in our freshman year. We spent tons of time together, along with a small group of other girls. But there was a change in our sophomore year -- she got a boyfriend and started spending less time with her friends. We tried to stay on her radar, but she became secretive and standoffish.
I mention this because if you notice that your teenager has changed friends suddenly or has shut down from the people who are normally part of his or her life, that’s another indicator that something is off. My friend seemingly had everything; her story is a reminder that how things look on the surface may be different from what’s going on inside.
For parents and friends -- if ever you’re in doubt, get help. Your child may be angry for a moment, but you may end up saving his or her life. If a teen is articulating the desire to end his or her life, be proactive and take that child to the hospital.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, I urge you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line, which you can reach by texting the number 741741.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently got married, and I am still in the process of settling down with my wife. Before meeting her, I devoted my life to being a support system for my mother and sister after my father passed away. Sometimes I feel that they take advantage of me by taking money out of my account without alerting me, but it has never been a pressing matter until now. I am building a family of my own and have a child on the way, and I need to focus my attention on providing for us first. My mother and adult, employed sister just don’t want to let go of me. They also enter my home as they please, which makes my wife uncomfortable. How should I handle this? -- Torn
DEAR TORN: It’s time to change your bank account and prevent them from having direct access to it. You may need to change your locks, too.
This sounds extreme, but it may be necessary in order to wake up your family to what life is like for you now. Explain that you will never stop helping them, but your priorities have shifted and you must focus on your growing family first.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)