Retired mum has attempted suicide twice in last 3 months

Hi all,

I’m hoping i might be able to get some advice from anyone whose been in a similar situation of any kind!

i’ll try and summarise this quickly- so my mum retired last May but mental health problems (depression, anxiety) began in Jan 2016 although accelerated once she finished work.
By last Jan it was obvious she was loosing weight but she’d blame lack of appetite on some vague stomach problems (scans, blood tests were done but nothing was found wrong).
Anyway, last summer she was down to under 5 stone (from usual 7.5) plus had started showing total signs of anorexia in the way she dealt with and thought about food. She’d close herself in dining room to eat- take an hour and not finish. insist on eating completely alone and then throw food in bin. lie about eating. Cut everything into tiny sections, chew repeatedly. Constantly talk about food, be obsessed with it.
Many hospital stints ensued - at one point mum actually died and was in a coma on ICU for a week- but she pulled through and regained weight. From November onwards shes had a private therapist who she sees once a week (now twice), a weekly depression / eating disorder support group, plus been on antidepressants (although we didn’t realise this until a few days ago but she STOPPED taking these this year! but back on again now).

Despite this, in March she took an overdose, left a note etc. Then last month she went missing for 4 hours (totally unlike her as never leaves the house now, let alone drives anywhere). She had been driving around train stations from her youth wanting to jump. She’d brought a ticket at one station but there were children on the platform so she drove to another one but a guard asked her why she was loitering (thank god he did, she must have looked so agitated and suspicious really). She said she hadn’t been brave enough to do it! She was in a very, very bleak state and said she could only think of ending it at that point (talking about drinking bleach, cutting throat etc). We took her to A&E and she was committed under voluntary basis BUT she couldn’t got to psych ward until physically well and she had an infection. Basically she was in hospital 2 weeks total then discharged and now has a psychologist coming round to house in addition to other support.

Anyway, that takes us to present day. Its exhausting having to be on high alert all the time, and ALWAYS thinking about mum, her treatment, looking for warning signs. Also, not being able to express yourself honestly as she’s SO sensitive, so we’re all walking on eggshells.

How do we move on from here? how will mum overcome suicidal thoughts? can it get better?

Mum has said she won’t ever do that again and not to worry but shes mentally unstable/ unwell so as much as i’d love to, i’m hesitant about taking her word for it!

I also have an 11 month old son and am trying to be the best, most loving mother to him but its such a challenge giving, giving, giving to everyone and - with regards to my mum- not getting anything back.

i’m hoping someone can offer any words of wisdom really (of any kind!), someone whose been there looking after someone close with depression …

Thank you!

Hi Dylan,
welcome to the forum. I don’t have specific experience of supporting someone with mental health problems, but others on here do and should be along later.

In case you haven’t seen it, there is info here on supporting someone who has suicidal thoughts and feelings:

You have managed to secure a great professional network of support for your Mum, no mean feat, so well done for that.

It sounds as if you now need to focus on you, so that you don’t go under. This will help you to be emotionally available to you son and give him full attention when you are with him. It would probably help you to have someone to help you contain your worries - someone you can talk to regularly about how your Mum’s situation is and how you feel about it - this could be a good friend/your partner or a counsellor. You also need to look after yourself physically - eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. Do you have any hobbies that help you relax and you find absorbing, to take your mind off your responsibilities for a short while?



What an awful situation for you- you are to be commended for how well you’re looking out for Mum.

I don’t know if this will breach confidentiality, but I’d suggest speaking to Mum’s professional team that have been coming to the house, if possible. Try and ascertain from them what they think (after all, they’ll have seen this before and will be able to give you more of an idea as to how much to keep an eye on Mum when they’re not around).

When someone is feeling suicidal, just knowing that someone is there for them to talk to and/or lean on can be enough for them to know that they’re not alone and can be the difference in them deciding to do something or not. I’d suggest talking to Mum about this- let her know you’re there for her if you haven’t already told her.

Are there any other family members or close friends that you could rally with to keep an eye on Mum? If so, you could rota your time with them so that you have some much-needed time with your son and for yourself just to recharge the batteries, so to speak. If someone else can do this, you then won’t be worrying all the time when you’re not in touch because you’ll know she’s got someone in your stead.

IF Mum tries anything again in the future, know this; you are not to blame and it’s obvious to anyone how much you love and care about her. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot help someone until they decide to help themselves.

Hi both,

Thank you so much for your responses and taking the time to read my post.

Yes, I love to run (work out in general really) and I have one of those buggies where I can run with my son which he loves as well. In the evening I like to cook, sew (currently a patchwork quilt- i know thats not very fashionable haha but i really do enjoy it!). I’m due back at work in 2 weeks - when my son will go to nursery plus I’ll be starting an evening course at the same time.

I do find sleep an issue though. i find the last / first thing i think of is always mum. I’m trying to incorporate more calm activities before bed- ie a bath with candles, reading- to try to relax my mind.

I have a sister and brother who also share the load really with mum. Mum has pushed all her close friends and other relatives away, she won’t speak to them, let alone confide in them (though she barely confides in us sometimes).
My dad takes the full brunt of it though and hasn’t yet joined a support group.

I’ve been referred to Mind via my GP and they recommended “low cost” (but not low enough for me Im afraid!) counselling plus they have a support group once a month and I’m going to go to my first session next week.

I’m not sure if this is normal, but i am started to feel resentful towards mum. Numerous times I’ve made efforts to help and they’ve been either completely ignored or just about acknowledged (guess thats the nature of depression, but surely she has to take some personal responsibility on occasion?) its as if she now expects us to come running. She barely shows an interest in anyone else even surface level (i know thats the depression, but sometimes you just think- can’t you fake it a tiny bit and ask about your grandson?)

I would like to take a step back and get more engaged in my own life (i feel i can’t do it all), but whenever i try to pull away abit (ie not call every day, not visit twice a week for a full 8 hour mum counselling session which is exhausting)i feel mum gets even worse. It was days prior to the last suicide attempt that mum called me telling me she wanted the GP to prescribe her morphine and could i help with that and that she hadn’t eaten for 48 hours. I was running late for a baby group with my son crying to be fed when i got this call and I told her to not call me anymore if she was going to tell me she hadn’t eaten. She knows she needs to eat 3 healthy meals a day and that I can’t supervise her eating, if she doesn’t want to eat then she is responsible now for that decision and she knows the consequences but please don’t call me just to tell me that as i need to parent my own son, i cant parent her as well. She just went silent and that was pretty much it, then couple days later she’s overdosed.

Its so hard really isn’t it! i think alot of the time our family use dark humour to get through this, laugh or you’ll cry really! and we have cried, jeez!

Sorry bit of a long reply. Know theres no magic cure for this (if only!) but do hope i can distance myself from mum a little - can that be done?


Just a quick reply, sorry.

The running with your son in the special buggy and the calm lead up to your bed time sounds great.

Personally I found when I was at work, I didn’t have time to worry about my caree and whatever issues I was trying to sort out re him. They popped straight back into my mind again the minute I finished for the day, but for those working hours my brain had respite from those worries. Hopefully this will be the same for you too.


Hi Dylan,

It’s brilliant that you’re using healthy ways to divert your attention from Mum. In a way, what you’re experiencing is similar to grief and the fact the first/last thing on your mind each day is Mum cements that similarity. This goes against everything that we’re told by the professionals, but, personally, I found the only way for me to get my Caree out of my mind at the end of the night is to watch loads of funny videos on Youtube until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore (mainly dogs and cats doing funny things!) It’s silly, but it works for me.
I can understand why the GP referred you for pay-yourself counselling- the waiting lists for the NHS counselling are horrendously long. Would it be worth asking the GP to put you on the waiting list for the free one whilst you’re attending the support group? This way, you’ll eventually get to the top of the list, but you’ll have the group to go to in the meantime.
It’s absolutely normal to feel resentment- you’re exhausting yourself for someone you care about and it feels like your efforts are not appreciated. You’ve correctly identified that this is the depression talking, though, not your Mum. If she were ‘herself’, I’m 100% sure she’d be telling you, if not showing you, how appreciated you are (remember that when times are hard).
You’ve done so well to ‘stick to your guns’ with regard to the phone calls about not eating- there’s not many people strong enough to do it.
I have one idea that might help with distancing and might then also help with Mum’s suicidal tendencies- why not plan an activity with Mum (i.e. book tickets for a theatre show/cinema/meal out/something special)- once you’ve booked it, you can tell Mum that she’s got ‘x’ to look forward to. The week before, spend time away from Mum (tell her you’ve got to prep your son/the house/get loads of work done so you can spend the max amount of time with her as possible on the day of the event). It should make her feel like she’s still the focus of your attention, but without you actually having to be with her for that week. What do you think? :slight_smile:


I know you’re right about it being the depression talking but sometimes its just so tiresome.
Thats a great idea about taking mum out on pre planned excursions- and one I’d not really considered. I think even if we had a cinema afternoon out booked for a few weeks, it would give mum enough time to “prepare” AND look forward to it. Even for myself, i think it will make it so much more enjoyable to be doing something as opposed to just sitting around attempting one sided conversations.

Also I will book to see my GP and ask to go on the waiting list- guess you never know when a space will come up.

Thank you everyone for your replies- much appreciated.

If you didn’t have such a young baby my prescription would be simple. Sew more!
My husband started referring to my sewing as “occupational therapy” when I was just 21, happily newly wed, job I loved, no cares really. While he was at work I’d sew a dress on Saturday and a blouse on Sunday. After years when caring had to take priority, I’m now sewing again. I find it so calming. Only trouble is I forget about time and housework and everything else!!!

hey Dylan,

I was wondering if you’ve been to ?

the UK section

and is full of people who can give you really good advice, the site has thousands of users in the UK.

Hi Dylan, What is the relationship like between mum and dad? Is Dad still working? He’s the one who should be caring for your mum.