How do I help suicidal sister?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


My sister (age 33) has been diagnosed with severe depression and of being suicidal. She got married when she was 20 years old and now she has a 10 years old child. We found out that she chats and meet with more than one guy, and her husband got very angry about it. She says that she is in need to talk to somebody who will give her the love and romance and care that she misses with her husband.Of course within a reserved society (Cairo, EGYPT) this is not at all acceptable and now her husband thinks she has cheated on him, She really hates her husband but does not want to leave him because of her kid.

a few days ago she met a psychaitrist who said she suffers from a deep depression and is suicidal. I really need advice how to deal with her, how to help her

A: If she is suicidal, the most important thing you can do is support her in seeing her psychiatrist and getting treatment. Meanwhile, she shouldn’t be left alone. Perhaps you and other members of the family and friends can take turns being with her until she is out of the immediate crisis. One possibility to consider is that her flirtations with men are a symptom of her illness, not a genuine reflection on her marriage. If that is the case, treatment will settle that down as well.

On the other hand, if the marriage is truly terrible, she needs to be helped to consider her options within your society. It would be presumptuous of me to suggest what she should do about her marriage when I don’t understand what the cultural consequences might be. I do hope someone is helping her understand that the death of his mother would be devastating to her child. Focusing on the child’s needs might help her cope with an unsatisfying marriage.

I wish her well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). How do I help suicidal sister?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/20/how-do-i-help-suicidal-sister/