Here are several ways to respond when your boyfriend or husband threatens suicide if you leave him – including advice from a woman whose husband killed himself.
It’s very scary when your boyfriend threatens suicide if you leave the relationship, but you can’t let him manipulate you.
Here’s what one wife says:
“My husband and I have been married for five years,” says on How to Leave a Man Who Wants to Stay Together. “The first three years, we stayed with his mother because we were both unemployed. I found a job and could afford to rent our own place, but my husband refused to find a job. I take care of everything: rent, our two little girls, groceries and gas. When I ask him to find a job, he refuses. Late last year he started to abuse me mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. When I told him I was going to divorce him he tried to commit suicide and now his family hates me for that. I even cheated on him just to show him I no longer want to be with him but he does not want to let go. I need your advice.”
The good news is that you’re already supporting yourself and your kids financially! Many women aren’t that lucky – they’re trapped because they’re financially dependent on their husbands. So, you’re ahead of the game (though I know it doesn’t feel like it).
If you aren’t supporting yourself financially, read How to Get Money to Leave Your Husband – Tips for Trapped Wives.
The first thing to do if your partner is trying to manipulate you by threatening to kill himself is to recognize it for what it is: manipulation and control. Read Who’s Pulling Your Strings?: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life for help.
When Your Boyfriend Says He’ll Kill Himself If You Leave
“If the person in your life…really wants to die, you need assistance beyond what I can provide in this blog,” says Randi Kreger is the co-author of Stop Walking on Eggshells in What to do when feeling manipulated by suicide threats. “Please seek immediate professional help. You may also wish to call a local crisis line or hospital emergency department and ask for guidance. Then, keep the phone numbers of these people and places right by the phone. Take threats seriously. Tell your family member you will call for help. Then, do it.”
Call a support hotline or visit a suicide help website
The first thing you need to do is get as much support and information as possible. The internet offers a variety of online support, such as The Support Network – so you don’t even have to make a call! Do an internet search for women’s help lines, or distress websites for women.
Though there is a lot of help online, I strongly encourage you to seek in person help. You’re in a vulnerable position: your husband is abusive, unstable, and unpredictable. You need to get help in person.
Here’s what a reader said — her husband committed suicide, and she regrets how she responded to his threats when he was alive:
“If your partner threatens suicide DO NOT keep it a secret. TELL people whom both you and your partner trust and who might be able to intermediate. This is something that is too big for you and him to handle alone. And DON’T WAIT, tell someone RIGHT NOW – every second counts. As soon as that person is gone they are NEVER coming back. Telling others might not save the person, but at the least you will feel less personally responsible if he does ultimately take his life.”
Also, learn how abusive relationships work – and why it’s so hard to leave a bad marriage. Read Why Women Who Are Abused Can’t Walk Away – The Abuse Dynamic.
Remember that you are not responsible for what your partner does – even suicide
This is so difficult and complicated – and it requires so much strength! But when your partner threatens suicide if you leave, you have to keep telling yourself that you cannot control what he does.
And, you have to learn how to accept that his family feels a certain way towards you, but that shouldn’t affect your behavior or self-concept. That is, even if his family thinks you should stay married, you still need to find the strength to leave your husband.
Learn how to respond when your partner says he’ll kill himself if you leave
This is from Choosing to Live: How to Defeat Suicide Through Cognitive Therapy by Thomas Ellis and Cory Newman:
”I’m not breaking up with you to be cruel. I’m very, very sorry that this hurts you. I want what’s best for you in the future, but I just can’t be part of it. And even if I were to stay with you, that wouldn’t solve our problems.
For one thing, your life’s worth should be based on much more than just being in a relationship with me. Secondly, I know that you know deep inside that our relationship shouldn’t be based on me staying because I’m afraid of you dying and you staying because you think you can’t live without me. That’s not healthy. I care about you. And because I care about you, I want you to live. And I want you to find your own happiness, and your own life’s worth, without me.”
Print this out, write it down, and keep reading it to yourself. You may have to say it over and over, to both yourself and him. Maybe you could even write it in a letter to him.
Remember that the longer you stay in a bad marriage, the worse it gets
Do you feel paralyzed when your partner threatens suicide if you leave? Helpless, scared, weak? Think of your children. What are you teaching them about marriage, love, and relationships? You need to be a strong, powerful, smart, and brave women – for them.
Staying with an abusive man isn’t just putting your physical and emotional health at risk. It’s endangering your children.
Here’s another article that may help: When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over.
Are you in a relationship that involves suicide threats? Sometimes sharing your experience can bring clarity, insight, and even healing. I welcome your stories below.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.