Role Reversal

hyperview's picture

My best friend through high school (and now) is a boy named Eddie. All through high school, I struggled with my sexual identity and with suicidal depression, and he was there to support me. Eddie is gay, and comes from a morally and politically conservative family that doesn't accept him or his "lifestyle choice" (their words not mine). Recently, Eddie was in a severe car accident, and though he was unhurt in the crash, while he was waiting for the authorites, he picked up a piece of broken glass and dragged it across each of his wrists, then passed out. He told me about this over the weekend, and about how he had been feeling suicidal for a long time, and that his family was a huge source of his stress and depression. I was shocked- I always thought that I had been supportive and loving enough towards him that he would never come to this conclusion, or would at least would try to talk it out with me before he acted on his depression. Eddie is one of the kindest, smartest, most selfless people I know- no one deserves this less than him. I, meanwhile, feel completely unprepared to be his lifeline. I can barely wrap my head around what Eddie did, that Eddie did it, let alone how to react and help him. I've always needed help, and I'm not sure I can handle the role reversal properly.
If anyone has advice on how to help my friend, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

clarice123's picture

i'm sorry

just be there for him. even if you don't know what to say, the fact that you're trying will mean something to him. assure him that you love him, constantly. and show him how much there is to live for.

Lol-taire's picture

What a horrible situation.

What a horrible situation.

All I can say is don't feel you have to shoulder the burden of 'saving' him somehow. By all means be as supportive and caring as you can be, but don't start to think it's your responsibility to make him get better. If he had cancer you wouldn't be the one to try to treat it. You can't be his lifeline. And I honestly can't stress this enough. Putting yourself in a position where you feel you're what's keeping him together will only end in you feeling completely out of your depth.

Is he receiving any follow up treatment or counseling after his suicide attempt? and does he still live with his family?

As his friend you just need to be his friend. You know how to be a friend, you don't need to be a saviour.

hyperview's picture

As for treatment, yes, he is

As for treatment, yes, he is getting counciling once he's back at his college, against the wishes of his parents. They've apparently told him multiple times that therapy was out of the question for him, as it would embarrass them to have a "mentally unstable" son (only crazy people get therapy), or to have anyone else, even a mental health professional, know about their family's "dirty laundry" (meaning his suicide attempt, or his being gay).

Yes, he still lives with them. Even though I've told him multiple times that his parents' house is a toxic environment for him (and he agrees with me), it's almost like he's in an abusive romantic relationship; he has every reason to get the hell up out of there, yet still clings on. We actually discussed that situation this weekend, and how I could kind of understand, given that they shelter him, clothe him, and pay his college tuition. He came to the conclusion that all that really wasn't worth it, but what he was really afraid of was not having a family anymore. I told him that a family who didn't love him for everything he was wasn't a family worth having, and he agreed with me, but it's all words- he knows I'm right, but he can't bring himself to act on it.
Break Down, and Cease all Feeling;
Burn Down what once was Breathing,
Reach Out,
and you may take my Heart Away.

Lol-taire's picture

I'm glad to here he's

I'm glad to hear he's getting treatment or at least will be. His family sound very... misguided.

He will move out eventually, but family just is family. It is very difficult, impossible really, to completely step out of their influence. Especially at emotionally vulnerable and transitional moments in peoples lives family becomes very important, because we had most of our formative experiences with them. And most families really aren't up the task.
And actually sometimes the more difficult it is to get their approval the more we want them to notice us even if we know they're idiots.

I'm sure you're a great friend to him. Like I said, please don't put too much burden on yourself or you won't be able to help him at all. It sounds like you're doing everything you need to be doing. He's lucky to have you there.

jeff's picture


Not much you can really prepare for here. Just have to make sure you do whatever you can for him, and realize that everything you have to give him might not be enough. You can't save him if he doesn't want to be saved. But you can make sure that he knows you're completely there for him.

Just spend time with him and talk. That's about it.


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

Add me on MySpace!

Disney's picture

That sounds terrible!

Well, if you really want to perk him up, get Eddie an attractive male escort and instruct that individual to perform some repair work on their date/night together/whatever!

But if that's not happening, just try talking it out with him! Go out to dinner, or coffee, or have him over by your place and just tell him you HAVE to talk about this!

Have you told him he has all of those great attributes that you've listed for him? Maybe hearing that will make him feel more valued, and maybe something else would be to encourage a mutual friend to make an effort to be extra nice to him for a while.

If you keep him really busy or get him into some new hobbies/extracurriculars, that would also keep his mind off of dark thoughts, and maybe improve his own feelings of self-worth. If you really love him, tell him how much you appreciate him and couldn't bear to see him go, and maybe a tear-fest will restore things to less unhappy places.

Really I think he could use another gay male friend, has he ever had a boyfriend or a meaningful relationship with another boy? If not, at this point in his life he may be wallowing over that and seeing so many juiced up straight college kids running free and dating and being happy certainly doesn't seem conducive to his hopes of finding a lovely boyfriend.

If his college or yours/your school/community has a GLBT group, that's something getting him and yourself involved in might be excellent, and if he's unwilling to go, don't tell him and just get him in the door. If he doesn't want to reach out to other gay males out of fear of rejection from what his family has always been like, then you need to push him to find what you know he not only deserves, but can attract with ease.

Anyway, way to be a good friend, as Loltaire pointed out - don't feel completely responsible for whatever happens! You're being a good friend just in your perceptiveness and response and seeking more help for him, but there is only so much you can do. Find Mr. Eddie a nice male he can hug away!

You're Amazing.

the mouse that roared's picture


Eddie may not be in the position to be the best boyfriend at the moment.

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless; there is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day

wild-blue-yonder's picture

Tell him everything you told

Tell him everything you told us - that you care a huge amount, that he means the world to you, that you want to help him but don't know what to do, but that you'll do whatever it takes... and just be there for him. I think that's the best thing you could give him right now.