Sister’s boyfriend committed suicide

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello, My younger sister’s boyfriend killed himself yesterday after she broke up with him. She is 19 and he was 26, We always knew he was too old for her but she thought she loved him. They were together 2 years and once the relationship fizzled out she tryed to break up with him 3 times but stayed because he treatened to kill himself. We presumed he was just emotionally black mailing her and would never do it but believe there may have even been an occasion where he assaulted her. Eventually she finally put an end to it and we were delighted but then he done this. His family blame her and she blames herself even though it’s not her fault. So finally the reason I’m here, I need some tips or advice on how I can help her through this please.
Thank you,

A: Love her. Love her. Continue doing what you are doing. Be there for her. Listen to her feelings without judgment. Reassure her. This is not the time to suggest good riddance to bad company. That will only make her defend him. She is likely too upset right now to listen to reason. Just keep telling her the truth: This is not her fault. Her boyfriend’s family blames her because they need someone to blame. However much she loved him, she couldn’t heal him. She did what she could. She actually did more than she should. He was an unstable young man. He tried to make her responsible for his life and ultimately did an extremely hostile and hurtful thing by setting her up to think she is responsible for his death. This is not an act of love. It’s an act of control.

If your sister continues to blame herself, it might be helpful to take her to a counselor. It may be too hard for her to tell you all about the relationship. She already knows that you and your folks disapproved of him. If he did assault her, she may not want to talk about that with you. She needs a place where she can share the full range of her feelings (anger, hurt, grief, betrayal and, yes, even love) without feeling that she might risk further disapproval.

The fact that you wrote to us tells me how much you care. Your sister undoubtedly knows you are there for her. Stay involved. Check in with her regularly. She is very young and needs your protection and care as she works through this. The love and support of family and friends can make a major difference in getting someone through a tragedy.

I wish you all well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 May 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Sister’s boyfriend committed suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/05/22/sisters-boyfriend-committed-suicide/