Risk of repeat suicide attempts
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Risk of repeat suicide attempts

Q: My husband has attempted sucide almost 2 years ago. He is on medication and see' psychiatrist once a month. What are the per centage of him attempting it again. We are separated but see each on weekends. I love him and I hope we can someday live together. We are going to a marriage counselor, but it scares me to think of living with him on regular basis. My children are from my first husband that past away from an illness. They are very concerned for me. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Ms. W' --
Even predicting the chance he'll have another serious depression is difficult: it can range from zero, as some people can have just one such episode; to 100%, especially likely if he's had a lot of episodes like this.  And then what is the chance he'll make another attempt, if he does get so depressed again?  Also hard to predict.  The best protection you have is to make sure he stays under good mental health care.  You should know who you're supposed to call if he starts to look depressed (or show manic symptoms) again -- his therapist, or psychiatrist?  They may fuss about not having a "release of information", but they can take information from you even if they don't have one.  If you insist on giving them information and they won't take it, even as a voicemail message for example, then you can write it down and send it.  Note that you have kept a copy and they'll know they're in trouble "medicolegally" if they don't include your information in their planning treatment.  There may be little they can do, as some people's illness is hard to have much impact on; and not everyone will follow recommendations even when those recommendations might help.  But you can try to pass on what you observe, and often that's all you are in position to do.  Try the support at Bipolar Significant Others (BPSO.org). 

Dr. Phelps

Published December, 2000

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