Since last year, I have discovered that many of the people around me are depressed. I, myself, are on and off,(a little portion of the bipolar in my gene pool.) Last year, one of my close guy friends, who I’ve known since I was two, became suicidal, or he finally attempted it. Our relationship fell apart. Now, I have learned that, despite counseling, the thoughts have returned. Another one of my friends, who has struggled with depression for most of her life, because of many reasons, has included him in her “suicide pact,” (along with one of her long-time friends.) I always accepted this, but lately, she’s becoming more desperate. She might not even live past New Years, or that’s what she’s telling me. I know that life is not worth living, and counseling doesn’t help them, but I’m scared that I will be losing two of the people closest to me (one of which is my reason to live) on the same day and I’m more terrified than ever. The down side is that she’s wanted to die for a very long time, there is no way of knowing when she’ll snap. Her mom doesn’t love her, so for her, there truly is no hope…

A. I am glad that you decided to write because it gives me the opportunity to dispel some of your beliefs that are incorrect. You stated that your friends have a suicide pact which you have “accepted” because you “know that life is not worth living…” and that “counseling doesn’t help.”

The fact that your friends believe that “life is not worth living” is a clear sign of depression. Depression is a mental illness. Individuals with depression are not thinking clearly. They essentially see the world through the cloudy, misaligned skew of depression. Depression can lead to hopelessness which gives people the false impression that they cannot be saved. That is simply not true. Depression is highly treatable. Millions of individuals are greatly assisted by counseling. Counseling saves the lives of many people.

Suicide pacts are not common. The fact that your friends have a “suicide pact” means that they have spent a great deal of time planning to end their lives.

Most people who are considering suicide do not want to die. They may choose suicide because they feel as though there are no other options for them. They typically lack effective problem-solving skills but these skills can be learned.

Dr. Phillip Zimbardo is the creator and founder of the Heroic Imagination Project (HIP). Essentially, the HIP project highlights unsung heroes and provides education about how ordinary people can be heroes. Dr. Zimbardo has developed educational courses that teach people how to be “heroes in waiting.” A key aspect of being a hero is acting when other people are passive and do nothing.

Many people faced with your dilemma might choose not to act. They might keep the suicide pact a secret because they do not want to upset their friends. In other words, they would choose not to be a hero. In this instance, you have an opportunity to be a hero. Dr. Zimbardo says, the opportunity to be a hero “may only happen once in your life and when you let pass it pass by, you’ll always know, I could’ve been a hero and I let it pass me by.” Choosing not to act might become the biggest regret of your life.

It is vitally important to alert someone about their plans. This might include your parents, your friends’ parents, a teacher, the school principal, a mentor or guidance counselor, etc. Call the authorities if necessary.

Your friends may be upset with you for having revealed their secret but I assure you that it will pass. You would be saving the lives of people who are clearly suffering, are mentally ill and who in all likelihood do not really want to die. Take this opportunity to be a hero and prevent a tragedy. This might be one of the most difficult challenges you face but it is essential that you act accordingly. Don’t let the opportunity to be a hero “pass you by.” Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). My Friends Are Extremely Depressed & Have A Suicide Pact. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/12/29/my-friends-are-extremely-depressed-have-a-suicide-pact/