I listened to my mother threaten to kill herself since I was a small child, when it left me frightened and crying. Then as an adult, the idle threats left me irritated and fed up with the bs. Her threats worsened with dementia and continued to worsen as her dementia advanced. She lived in Assisted Living and then Memory Care Assisted Living because there was no way I'd take her personality type into my home, we'd have strangled each other.

When she'd threaten to jump out the window, I'd remind her she lived on the first floor and it wouldn't accomplish her goal. She'd need to figure out how to climb to the roof and jump off of IT. So I'd call her bluff, in other words, yawn, and move on. She always dropped the subject right away because she didn't have the scared/upset audience she was SEEKING. I probably should've called 911 the first time she threatened to off herself and maybe she would have stopped, but maybe not because dementia causes them to forget everything. And the I'm Gonna Kill Myself routine is a crowd pleaser.

Sorry you're being manipulated like this. Don't react to it, and see what happens. But calling 911 can stop this behavior permanently.....hopefully. Good luck.
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Reply to lealonnie1
Blaksheep Feb 21, 2024
Oh, my gosh - you could be me!! I had the same type of childhood and came to the same conclusions as an adult that you did. The last time my Mom threatened suicide, I told her if she ever did it again I would call 911 and have her admitted to a psych ward. Guess what? She did and I did. The visit was actually beneficial for her. She got counseling and on some meds and while we still had some hard times, she never pulled that trick again. She passed away 8 years ago and I actually miss her and have good times to remember!
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Record her, phone for emergency services, and have her placed in care. That’s how I got my mother placed when I couldn’t take another moment of her manipulations when she didn’t get her way. (plus she had finally put her intentions in writing, so it wasn’t my word against hers)

At the hospital she raged that it was all a joke, I took everything too seriously, and she was going to lawyer up and sue every single person involved, including the ambulance staff, the police, the hospital staff... which also gave them a sample of what she was like to live with. So much stress! It got her out of here and she has never made that threat while in care.
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Reply to Anabanana

Honestly you call their bluff. They are only threatening this to get the attention they want and to manipulate you to do what they want. Don't give them their audience.
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Reply to lkdrymom

Remember people don't become elderly when they're serious about killing themselves.

Next time call her bluff by calling 911 and explaining to the dispatcher that she's threatening to kill herself. Let them take her away by ambulance to the ER. You and your siblings follow.
This would be a good time to ask to speak to a social worker about possible options on getting her placed in memoey care.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
TouchMatters Feb 22, 2024
This writer addresses 'hurt herself.'
She doesn't say anything about killing herself.
And, yes ... people may try or attempt and be stopped ... so people can 'become' elderly with a history of trying / attempting.

To discount how a person behaves as 'bluffing' is possibly, if not likely, to ignore the mental health needs / issues. It also minimalizes the potential harm a person could do which needs intervention.

This is not a healthy or useful assumption to make. And, is poor advice which could cause potentially catastrophic circumstances. ALWAYS take a person seriously.
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You call 911 and have her transported to the ER for suicidal ideation.

Contact the social worker and tell them that she is no longer safe in her current living situation and needs placement.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
AlvaDeer Feb 13, 2024
I am afraid I agree that memory care placement is likely best in this situation. I will say that for some people it is clear this is merely drama; but one cannot ignore real threats.
When a person gets to the point that they are threatening to harm themselves, they are no longer able to be cared for by family members. She is beyond your level of expertise now.

As others have suggested, you must call 911. Do it the next time she starts with the threats.

This is difficult for the family, and you need to spare yourself the consequences of continuing to care for a person who might actually follow through, scarring all of you for life. If you call emergency services and cooperate with suggestions of professionals, you will know you've done everything possible to help mom.

I'm very sorry you're going through this. Good luck.
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Reply to Fawnby

Tweety1: Call 9-1-1 posthaste.
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Reply to Llamalover47

Is this a pattern for her or new behavior? Is she being manipulative or is she really distraught? No matter what it is, call 911.

Is she on a new medication? My younger brother who has never had suicidal ideation tried to kill himself after taking a new medication.

It’s frightening to experience this side effect. He survived and his meds were adjusted and no longer has suicidal thoughts.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

Call 911 immediately. Do not tell her you are going to do that either. Don’t let her see you do it. Record her saying these things if you can, then just get up, walk into the other room and call 911. Senior threatening to harm herself.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Southernwaver

Self-harm (sh) and attempting suicide are 2 different mental illnesses. That being said, studies show that 50% of sh people will or have attempted suicide.
Whether she is using the threat of sh to manipulate you, shouldn’t be on your shoulders to decide. Even if she is, that is a sign of mental illness. Get her help!
You cannot threaten or bully someone into changing. It must be so frustrating for you. Next time she does this calmly call 911. When they get there tell her you love her and want her healthier. Any good mental health treatment facility knows this could potentially be more than a threat. They can help her learn better coping skills. Best wishes for a brighter future.

PS The psych ward is not a place of punishment. It is not purgatory! Thousands and thousands of people, young and old visit “psych wards” with wonderful results. So called “psych wards” have saved many many lives.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to NonnaRN
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 25, 2024
Very true. A very good friend of mine who was in Vietnam placed himself in a psych hospital. He stayed there for two years. He still tells me today that he would be dead had he not gone for help.

He had severe PTSD when he came back home. Plus, his wife told him that she fell in love with a woman and that put him over the edge. I will never forget him telling me, “Man, I could understand if she had fallen in love with another guy while I was in Vietnam but there isn’t any way in hell that I can compete with a woman to convince her to come back to me!”

People go through all sorts of hell. There is no shame in needing help to get through it, even if it means admitting themselves into a psych hospital. It was definitely the best thing that my friend did for himself. He absolutely would have killed himself if he hadn’t gone for help.

I am happy to say that my friend is in a lovely relationship now and is at peace.

If a person is threatening to kill themselves to control or harm others, then that’s another story. Then it’s vindictive behavior. They still need help but the victim isn’t obligated to help them. They can simply call 911.
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