Last weekend, Sasha Menu Courey, a 20-year-old star athlete at the University of Missouri, died by suicide. Her classmates described her as a vivacious and outgoing person, who was always ready to laugh and had a stellar career as a student and athlete.
What they didn’t know was that she was struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder and depression – two psychiatric disorders that may have ultimately resulted in her dying by suicide.
Menu Courey had been receiving BPD treatment at a psychiatric hospital since March, after a series of difficult life events left her feeling unable to cope. She took her own life several weeks after entering treatment.
Unfortunately, stories like Menu Courey’s aren’t uncommon when it comes to Borderline Personality Disorder. Despite the appearance of a happy and functional life, people with BPD often struggle with suicidal thoughts and ideations. If depression sets in along with BPD, those thoughts can turn into even more serious attempts.
So how do you help someone with Borderline Personality Disorder who is having thoughts of suicide before they act on them?
Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
In many cases, it will be obvious when someone is considering suicide. They will mention in passing that they are thinking about it and what they plan on doing. This is often an attempt to get help without directly asking for it.
But in other cases, you many never know that your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder is thinking of taking their own lives unless you are familiar with the warning signs of suicide. Keep an eye out for uncontrolled anger, feelings of hopelessness, increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawal from friends and family, and dramatic changes in mood.
Knowing what to look for may help to save your loved one’s life.
If you are concerned that your loved one with BPD is thinking of suicide, especially if they have been exhibiting symptoms of depression, don’t shy away from asking questions. Tell your friend or family member why you are concerned, and directly (but gently) ask them if they are thinking about suicide and why.
Ask questions in a way that shows you care and are not being angry or judgmental. Remember, the worst thing you can do is to ignore the problem and not find out if your concerns are valid. Asking questions can only help.
If your loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder does open up to you about their thoughts of suicide, let them know you are there for them. Be understanding and supportive, and really listen to what they are telling you. Help them to talk through their feelings and get the help they need.
If you’ve determined that your loved one with BPD is suicidal, it’s important to get help immediately. If suicide is imminent, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. If a suicide attempt has been made, call 911.
If you or someone you love has Borderline Personality Disorder and is acting on suicidal thoughts, it’s important to get help before it’s too late. If you see any of the warning signs of suicide, don’t ignore them. Confront the situation and get into BPD treatment as soon as possible.
Once someone with Borderline Personality Disorder gets BPD treatment, the suicidal behavior may lessen. Skills taught through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help to reduce suicidal behavior and help teach better distress tolerance and emotion regulation so that someone with BPD no longer feels the need to turn to suicide to cope.