Too Late Now
This is a bit irregular, but what would you have said if I had sent this
"I've had a 4-year relationship with a guy that ended 3 years ago.
It lasted for so long because he was really depressed and I "waited"
for things to get better for him before breaking up. He finally broke
up himself because I had grown completely cold by then, but he's still
in love and still depressed and has even tried to commit suicide twice
"I left the country and am living abroad but he keeps calling me
every two days or so. I don't know what to do, it's driving me mad. He's
getting professional help but he seems to trust only me and I know he
shouldn't, I just want him to leave me alone and go on with my life. I'm
afraid to say anything, he gets hurt easily but on the other hand I feel
I'm torturing him instead of helping"
You see, he finally did commit suicide a few months ago and I can't help
wondering "what could I have done" and how to go on with my
life now, with this, with myself. I feel awful.
I can understand how awful you feel; it is very difficult not to feel
guilt when someone you care about commits suicide; still worse when the
relationship has been difficult.
I hope I would have said "You are not a mental health professional;
you can advise him, as strongly as possiblke, to seek help - but you cannot
force him, unless you have reason to believe he is suicidal or a danger
I think I'd have added "What you do owe him, as a friend, is honesty;
if he is distressed, and can't let go, you can only increrase the pain
by allowing him to hang on ... if you care, risk shotrt term pain for
long term peace, and let him go with honesty and respect."
I should add that with hindsight, you probably hear his threats of suicide
and the attempts, as your fault. If he was, by then, recognised as having
a depressive illness, clearly it is unreasonable for you to blame yourself.
Even if that was not so, you are not a mental health professional, and
really could not have foreseen what might happen - tragically, suicidal
threats and attempts occur more often in non-suicides than in suicidal
Either way, you cannot change the past. However difficult it is to force
reason over personal emotions, you should not forget the good times, and
the help you did give - or offered. Hindsight gives a clear vision, but
little justice; so long as you acted in good faith, not for selfish motives,
you have no right to torture yourself now.