Family history

  • We have a strong family history of suicide, mental illness and drug addiction.
  • My brother had died (the coroner stated suicide) two years after my husband died. He was a crystal meth addict and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • My husband's sister committed suicide many years ago.
  • My cousin committed suicide a couple of years ago. He had been a heroin addict and struggled with drugs his whole life.
  • My sister attempted suicide and was in ICU in an induced coma for many days. She has bipolar.
  • Another cousin has schizophrenia, and is a chronic drug addict.
  • Other sisters of my late husband have attempted suicide and so has his mother.
  • I've attempted suicide in years gone, I suffer from depression and a complex PTSD. I'm on medication and am strict about it, and combined with health issues which make it difficult for me to do things physically, it's put strain on everyone in the family.
  • My son is 23, his father committed suicide when he was 9. Something he's never really come to terms with.
  • He has a younger brother and sister,aged 17 and 16, respectively. They seem less affected by their dad's death, maybe because they cannot remember him.


There was a lot of stress in our home when he was aged 14. My mentally ill sister was living with us and my mother. My sister was psychotic much of the time and would try to kill herself if I tried to get her to find another place to live. Finally I got her removed by the police. It was a difficult decision, as I was petrified she would commit suicide, but I was torn and distressed by the affect it was having on my children.

We had always been close, until he left home and went to live with his aunt (his dad's sister), who hated me and still does. She refers to me as a murderess and blames me for my husbands death. She also has no boundaries and would rubbish me in front of my son without any care to the damage she may have been doing.

She actually tried to get me arrested for murder, even though he gassed himself in his car, was sober and drug free and his fingerprints were on the tape and he left a note.

I know this as my son has since told me. I couldn't do anything to get him back, despite being locked in the court system for over a year, as he was too old.

His siblings and I didn't see him (maybe twice) until he turned 18.

By the time he came back into our lives, we had moved to a 3 bedroom home. There's only room for him if someone shares a bedroom. We had discussed him moving back in, and he's been reluctant. Although we've become close again and see him regularly.


By the time I saw him again he was smoking marijuana daily and has done ever since. He has also experimented with drugs and cannot stay away from them. Ecstasy, acid, some other designer drugs, crystal meth occasionally and cocaine.

He had a full blown psychotic/manic episode when he was 21 and was hospitalized. He came off the medication earlier than he was supposed to. He is still supposed to be on Lithium. He doesn't see a doctor about any of this.

He is in danger of losing his job and cannot return until his mental health has improved. He is now on indefinite unpaid leave.

He's bingeing on drugs and is not well, though sometimes he will be quite lucid and sound ok. I think this may be the drug taking.

He's moved into a dump, where he hasn't paid any rent yet and it's killing me to watch it. I find it difficult to talk about. Easier to write about. It's very draining.

His brother and sister are so supportive and help to keep an eye on him.

I don't know what to do. When I broach the subject with him, he always has a surprisingly and disarming logical argument for everything and I find myself even doubting he has a mental health issue. When I spent a few hours with him, it was clear he was unwell. He's a bit like a young child, it's really sad.

He is wary of me and anyone who confronts him about his mental health. He reacts badly to what he perceives as a betrayal, which in fact is an attempt to get him health care. My mother is talking to him and trying to get him to visit her.

I've called help lines. We've been through this, literally, dozens of times with my sister (and late brother) and she has been turned away from hospital many times, unwell. We have to wait until the person is past the point of no return in terms of psychosis.

I don't know what to do. He's not acute enough for an ambulance. I'm reluctant to call the mental health team. They will probably visit, but they're unlikely do anything at this point, which will cause another drama. I don't want to make the situation worse.

What I'm looking for

As a parent, how can I best help him? Is there anything I can do that will help? What can I do to help myself and my other children cope?

I know professional help is what is needed, but here I'm looking for emotional coping and parenting skills, rather than medical advice.

Edited to add: All family members have therapists.

  • If this is too many questions - let me know and I will edit it Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 2:34
  • 3
    You mention you are on medication for depression and PTSD but are you also seeing a therapist? I would think you could get advice from the therapist on what is best for you to do at this point for yourself, for him, and for the other 2 minor children. A therapist likely also knows what options are available to you in such a situation.
    – threetimes
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 6:44
  • 1
    I think the people who can best answer this are people with children such as your son. All parents go through troubles, but yours are of an uncommon (unfortunately increasingly common) kind. Hopefully someone will have some helpful information for you. Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 23:14
  • I agree with what @threetimes says. Your therapist is more intimately familiar with the situation than any of us could hope to be no matter how much you write. Situations like these are incredibly complex, and speaking from (similar but not nearly as bad) experience, this is not going to be resolved without professional help - both for you and your son. Your therapist might also be familiar with less 'hospital-like' treatment centres which could possibly be easier to accept for your son.
    – Tijmen
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:52
  • If you don’t mind me asking, how have things come to be? Your son sounds a lot like me: starting from a family history similar to yours and including my mother being blamed for causing my father’s death by his mother! (Suicide / huge heroin overdose while driving) I’ve been very reluctant to seek treatment as well. Recently, I’ve decided to step up and give treatment a try. Did he as well?
    – Ko8lez
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 21:23

1 Answer 1


There is very little you can do. Until someone accepts they have mental health challenges that need to be addressed you can't force them into treatment. As a parent this can be devastating to watch. Having a serious mental illness myself I have a simple rule, if you want to be in my life and have mental health issues then you have to be active in your treatment. I don't expect them to be well all the time, or not struggle with their issues I just expect them to accept they have a problem and work towards making it better. Otherwise I'm just watching someone I love spiral out of control and it brings me down with them. I've lost some friends and family over the years since I've adopted this approach but I've been a lot healthier since. I had to stop focusing on them and putting my self-care first. Accepting that you've already done your best and can't do more is hard, but may be on the only path forward.

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