Aug 102011
 
husband suicide

What do you do when your partner threatens suicide if you leave him? (image by h.koppdelaney, via flickr)

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.

Relationship Help

Do you regret the break up? Get Your Ex Back

Want to stop the separation or divorce? Save Your Marriage

Wondering how to make a man fall in love with you? Captivate Him So He'll Never Want to Leave

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.

laurie pawlik kienlenI'm Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen - bookworm, travel bug, flute player, writer, blogger, warrior princess. :-) My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our cat and dogs.

Are you happy? My Grade 10 Social Studies teacher always asked me that. And I am happy, despite a hard childhood (schizophrenic mom, no dad, foster homes), infertility, an eating disorder, and a chronic illness. The source of my peace and joy is God; I'm a Christian. Where do you find peace?

I welcome your big and little comments below, about big or little things. I can't give you advice, but writing can give you clarity and insight.

In peace and passion...Laurie

  15 Responses to “When Your Boyfriend Threatens to Kill Himself If You Leave”

  1. Dear Susan,

    Thanks for your comments! I am so sorry you had to experience your husband’s suicide. My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how painful it must be, and how you must feel.

    Thank you for your advice on how to respond to a man who says he’ll kill himself if you leave. I’d like to put your comments in the body of this article – I’ll keep you anonymous – because I really value what you said.

    Blessings – may you be living in peace, and may your husband’s soul rest in peace –
    Laurie

  2. I absolutely agree with Aggie. If your boyfriend or husband threatens suicide TELL your family and closest friends about it. Especially talk to his mother or closest family members who might know more about his mental health than you do.

    My husband took his own life last year, during a though time in our relationship when I threatened to leave him. I will always regret not talking to anyone about our problems.

    I disagree with the advice in the article that says to tell him that he has to be responsible for his own happiness. I basically said that – and now it doesn’t make me feel good. You cannot use normal reasoning with someone who is seriously having suicidal thoughts. Most people do not threaten suicide unless it has honestly crossed their mind. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after my husband’s death that I became an expert on suicide. If anyone you care about has mentioned suicide I suggest reading as much as you can on the topic. One thing I wish I had known: If the person mentions a specific method of suicide that means they have really thought it through and should NOT BE LEFT ALONE. That person needs IMMEDIATE HELP.

    My main advice: 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.

  3. Hello Miss A,

    Have you read about the cycle or dynamic of abuse?
    http://theadventurouswriter.com/quipstipsrelationships/why-women-who-are-abused-cant-walk-away-cycle-of-abuse-dynamic/

    It sounds like you’re caught up in that, and it’s hard to just walk away. Especially after investing years in him! I remember not wanting to leave a guy I was with for a year, because I didn’t want to start over again with someone new. And that was only a year — I can’t imagine leaving someone I’ve been with for six or more years.

    For some reason, I’m reminded of a proverb:

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

    If you stay with him, your relationship will continue on as it has been. One day it’ll be 10 years that you’ve been with him, and you’ll not want to leave because you’ve invested 10 years. Then it’ll be 16 years, and 25 years…and you’ll be more and more invested.

    Read the article, and let me know what you think! I can’t offer counseling, but I’m happy to share my thoughts. I’m not even telling you that you should leave him, because that’s something only you can decide.

    You know what’s best for you, and you may even know what’s holding you back.

  4. Laurie: I know I am strong enough…But not strong enough to think of letting go of someone I have loved and invested myself in for six years…I want a certain kind of relationship…but I am not getting it with my husband…He was nice yesterday (the day after another abusive episode) and today….its like a flip flop…he is back to all the snide comments and mean actions. I came up to give him a kiss and he said “why” and I said..oh just cause..and he said well you just asked me a stupid question and im irritated so whats the point… Yesterday he said he loved me 100 times. Today he wont even respond to me…and when he does its angry…I feel so…upset and frustrated. I’ve lied to all the women around me here and said that he has changed and I’m happy because when I went back….You know I just was afraid they will think I am lieing because I went back to him. Does that make sense? I have a safe place, place to live, job, everything if I leave him. It is the emotional side that is so….hard and frustrating!

  5. Dear Miss A,

    Thank you for sharing about your life here! It sounds like you’re going through alot, and you’re confused and scared. I wish your boyfriend could love you with respect and gentleness, and am sad that he treats you so badly.

    What do you want to do? I know you say you don’t know what to do, but I wonder what you really want out of your life and relationship. If you could have or do anything, what would you do? Where would you go, who would you be with?

    You were strong and courageous enough to leave him once, and I believe you’re strong and courageous enough to do it again. Where did you go and why did you leave last time?

    Leaving an abusive relationship – especially if your boyfriend threatens to kill himself – is one of the hardest things to do. But you’re a survivor, and you did it before. Since you can’t change him, you might start thinking about changing your life so that he’s not in it. I know it’s not easy to leave, but I also know other women have survived terrible relationships. I know you will too.

    Are there any groups for women in abusive relationships in your area? Many cities have womens’ resource centers and other places for women to get help. It’s really important to connect with women in your same situation, who know exactly how you feel.

    You’re not alone, but it’s up to you to reach out for help. You did it here, and I’m so glad! The next step is reaching out in person, and finding the strength and courage to move your life in the direction you want it to go.

    What do you think?

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  6. I am still in a physically abusive relationship. I am 20 and he is 22. We have been together for 6 years, and we have a 3 year old daughter. He’s choked/smacked/thrown/suffocated/punched/put a knife to my throat/banged my head on the floor over and over/thrown/dragged me around more than 300 times. I know that because for a couple years it was at least once a week. I left last year for the first time. We were separated for 7 months. We have now been together for 8 months. However had a room mate who didn’t work ( his best friend) Who lived with us up until last month. There was always jealousy and awkwardness, he accuse me of looking at his friends “stuff” when we were all in a room together. (although I did not) and when I made my husband a sandwich I would politely ask our room mate if he wanted one as well. He would be mad at me all night because “I’m not his d*mned Wife” So it got to the point that I just found myself being rude to others…to satisfy his need of feeling like he’s the only person I care about. We moved out last month. 1st month gone and I’ve already had shoulder muscle torn…and been thrown through my car window. My daughter screams for it to stop. I cry for her. I dont know how to let go of a 6 year long investment. He says that he is the only woman he will ever love or be with. I am the only person he has ever kissed or had intercourse with…( Some of our problems I think can be attributed to Aspergers Syndrome.) He says life isn’t worth living without me. He said it before and I left and he didn’t die. However I do think he is crazier now, then he was then. He has a hard time socially and doesn’t keep friends easily. The roomate is the only friend that he has, and like me….he stays his friend knowing that he is rude and hard to deal with…for no reason at all. I don’t know what I will do or how I will ever leave. I don’t even know if I want to…but I don’t want the abuse. I hate the feelings he gives me…but he is also so funny and charming at times. I feel crazy. The 1 month we have been back together..the abusiveness didn’t just start small…it was all out. Like where we left off…almost a year ago…that is what is so scary. I dont know what to do…

  7. if there are any women out there who are feeling overwhelmed with the decision of leaving, and risk “being responsible for your boyfreind/husbands death” or staying and being miserable, the choice is so simple. (hard to do but simple) tell their family and friends and plan for that person to get counselling, or be committed. (this is where it gets hard) they will most likely freak out and the truth will come out. 1. they hate you for telling their secret but with the protection of family and friends, and possibly the authorities, they will probably agree to do it, or confess that they werent serious about suicide (in which case partners counselling or a break up will do) 2. that person refuses help and you can leave. its really that simple. the end.

  8. My fiance threatened suicide after becoming abusive. He killed himself June 10, 2012. I was prepared for the possibility, but it still hurts. I think the thing that helped me most before and after his death was seeing a councilor. They can truly make you feel strong and confident. She helped me realize the amount of emotional abuse being put on me and helped me plan a safe route away from my fiance.

  9. Dear Kylie,

    I can’t tell you if you should continue to date your boyfriend – that’s a decision only you can make. However, you have to remember that someone who threatens suicide if you leave is in great pain. He really needs to focus on dealing with his emotional health, not being a boyfriend. I don’t know him, but I suspect it would be very difficult for him to do both (get healthy and be a good boyfriend to you).

    It sounds like your boyfriend is confused and scared. I think you should talk to your parents and a counselor, and take their advice. You can’t save your boyfriend or make him feel better about his life, and he may follow through with his suicide threats even if you continue to date him.

    I hope this helps – I know there are no easy answers. I’m sorry you’re going through this, and I hope you’re able to find the in-person support you need.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  10. this past week my boyfriend told me he wanted to break up because he wanted freedom. we worked things out and i gave him his freedom. Two nights later he went to a party and cheated on me. he told me the next morning and i told him it was done and i wouldnt answer him, he told me he was going to kill him self and i wasnt home so i called his sister, 20 minutes later i got a call from his friend that he crashed into 3 trees and he is being rushed to the hospital. He told my family and his family the truth why he did it and said he couldnt live with himself. Our parents are only letting us hang out twice a week for a couple of hours now cause they are worried about my safety. Should i continue to date him? He is still being selfish but sweet at the same time i dont know what im going to get from him each day

  11. Thank you for writing about boyfriends who threaten suicide. It helps.

  12. Had an Ex-Boyfriend in college who broke up with me as a senior back in ’05’. He was one year ahead of me. I think he was freakin out about leaving school not ready to join or face the real world. He thought he was a big fish in a small pond. I think he was wishy washy about his old back home ex-girfriend and about the possibility of us being apart and exploring his options. It took me awhile to figure out he was controling. Even though he was helpful rto me at times when I felt/welcomed help, I now know later it was still about him having something over me to control, the more I opened up the more he had somethoing to control me and found myself doing things I never thought I ever would nor ever wanted to , nor still don’t. Love or the thought of love can make one blind. real love does not control or put anyone in compromising situations or feelings of owed obligations, unaturally. Not sure for what ever reason ( perhaps his plans or “options” changed or did not go his way or the way he thought they might. I finally saw clear through the the help of some friends and family , that he was a controlling egotistical fake wight knight wannabe (he aalways wanted to look like the good guy). Even when we(he) broke up with me. He didn’t wanted to be perceived by others ( mostly his family and other women/girls) as a cad or jerk. If he really wanted to make it work because of we were ayear apart and really loved me, then he would at least make an honest attempt at making it work. But I am glad that he didn’t waste my time. I also felt he was more than just the normal casual jealous type and didn’t think he could trust me (though he could of) or other guys around me– because he couldn’t trust himself. But then he was in his last semester and didn’t care because I think things began backfiring on his plans or whatever, and started recontacting me and claiming he was depressed and unhappy and wanted to kill himself and everyone would be better off. Despite my now being over him, he did have many things that an outsider would think he had going for him. He started to suck me in and found myself having those old girfriend caring instincts and feelings coming back and start to take over. When I started spending more time as a”concerned friend” , and getting him to try to reveal why he was so depressed and how and why he was going to kill himself, I tried to convince him to seek help. He never did or said he was. Then some friends said –look if you don’ttell someone likehis parents or school mental health, then they would and that when he said suicide – the trust and confidentiality gloves come off, sorry. So I told his parents, and he got all pissed and mad at me. So I called his parents again and they were a little upset at me too at first as he told them that he just was saying that to get back with me , because I broke up with him ( which was the other way around). They actually ended up beleiving me because his old hometown girfriend made it seem like they were maybe seeing each other again when he finished school and onspring break. What a manipulative controlling jerk. I can’t beleive I was that gullable falling for the same old song anddance. Thought I would share because if you think someone is manipulating you and using the “kill my self” or suicide” card. Call their bluff. One because it is the right thing to do get them help and if they refuse then tell someone who isin an authoritive or mental health helping capacity. You are not breaking a trust or tattletelling –you are potentially saving a life! If they are bluffing touse as a manipulative tool– then the truth will come out and so what if they are pissed off –do you really want to continue having any (any) type friend or close relationship with someone who would use you or anyone like that. No. So pleease do not get caught in the trap I did– I was lucky and finally woke up and got out. Its hard but its afew simple steps.

  13. Also – you need to realize that this is an abusive relationship. He is hurting you physically and emotionally, and you need to leave. I don’t care if he’s the father of your daughter — you can’t subject your daughter to this kind of man!

  14. Dear Jackie,

    Thanks for sharing your life here – I’m so sorry your boyfriend turned out to be so emotionally manipulative and physically harmful. I know how it feels to feel like your personality has been sucked right out of you.

    I’ll write an article about finding yourself – getting your self back – while you’re in an unhealthy relationship. I’ll post the link here.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  15. I got with my boyfriend and had a beautiful daughter a month into our relationship. My family didn’t want me with him but I decided to move out of my moms house to live with this man who just seemed like he adored me and made me feel good about myself. Mind you, I was 19 at the time and I had broken up with my last boyfriend (who ended up being abusive) about 8 months prior. The first couple months were ideal.planning for our life, picking baby names, etc. when we moved into our first apartment together and his mother wasnt around anymore, he started throwing temper tantrums in the morning before work and would totally destroy our room and it wouldn’t get cleaned up unless I did it.he started making me walk to the store to get groceries while I was pregnant and would never offer to go with. I caught him fooling around on facebook with other girls, he made me feel so guilty about not having a job when I was pregnant that I went out and worked all the way through nine months. he would put holes in walls and doors.etc.. He has gotten better with controlling that kind
    of rage since our daughter Was born.but now he has sucked the personality right out of me by trying to control what I do with guilt trips and complaining.he simply says that the only reason that he acts like this is because I dont give him enough affection.but it’s hard to show affection to someone that has put me through this kind of emotional trauma.I’m at a point with him now where he has already bruised the back side of my arm, pushed me down and into things.and even in front of my daughter once. I feel like he will never get better.I feel like I can’t be myself. The hardest thing for me to leave is the fact that my daughter is so emotionally attached to him.shes almost 2. I also feel like, if I leave, that he will leave back to his home state or try to make my life
    hell. I need help.I don’t want to be miserable for the rest off my life.I want me back.

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