Suicidal and Homicidal Intentions


The second worse thing that bipolar disorder can cause is suicidal and homicidal intentions.


Let me give you an example.  Let’s look at Jenny’s (not her real name) story:


Jenny had bipolar disorder.  She was happily married to Rick (not his real name).  However, whenever Jenny would go into a bipolar episode, she would get very violent – she would have homicidal intentions.  One night, she told Rick she had a box cutter hidden somewhere in the house, so if she were him, she wouldn’t go to sleep that night.  Needless to say, Rick didn’t sleep at all that night.  Another time, Jenny threw herself through a plate glass window, then called the police claiming that Rick had done it to her and had him arrested for spousal abuse.


The problem with suicidal and homicidal intentions, is that you have to take the person seriously, every time!  Because you never know if this time is going to be the time that they take action.  And this can get so frustrating.


Let’s go back to Jenny and Rick:


Jenny had gotten so bad with her threats, that it was too much for Rick to handle.  For his own safety and sanity, he had to leave Jenny.  They were trying to work things out over the phone, but it wasn’t easy.  In the meantime, without Rick there to make her do it, Jenny went off her bipolar medications.  Eight months later, Jenny got a gun and killed herself.


Rick found Jenny’s body three hours later, when he had planned to come over to the house to see her.  She hadn’t left a suicide note.  She hadn’t threatened to commit suicide in their last phone conversation.  But Rick, as well as Jenny’s family, knew it was because Jenny had gone off her bipolar medications; that without her medications, she was not in her right mind.


Still, nobody knew what was going to happen.  Nobody could have stopped her.  She never verbalized her intentions.


So if your loved one is verbalizing their intentions, take them seriously.  If they aren’t comfortable talking to you about it, see if they’ll talk to a therapist or psychiatrist about it.  At least see if they’ll talk to someone on the phone at: 1-800-SUICIDE.


If your loved one is willing, they may even be able to be talked into going into the hospital for a short stay until they can be stabilized and no longer have the suicidal or homicidal intentions.


If your loved one is not willing to get help but is still thinking of harming themselves or others, you will need to take action; in the form of involuntary hospitalization.  You can start by either taking them to the Emergency Room (if they will go with you) or by calling the police.  Make sure if you do call the police that you tell them that your loved one has a mental illness, and make sure you are there when the police arrive.


And remember, take every threat seriously.



Destruction of Families


Probably the worst thing that bipolar disorder does is to destroy families.  I’ve seen it happen over and over.  Just like Jenny and Rick, where Rick finally had to leave, for his own safety and sanity.


Bipolar disorder is a deadly disease – just look at Jenny!  If that doesn’t scare you enough, think about this: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says that 4.4% of people in the U.S. have bipolar disorder; which is over 13 million people right now!  They also say that 1 in 5 people with the disorder will kill themselves.  Not may, not might, but will.  Do you want to be that 1 in 5?  Do you want your loved one to be that 1 in 5?


It takes so much patience to be a loved one to someone who has bipolar disorder.  And many of them, no matter how much they love their loved one, at some point, they just can’t take it any more, and they are forced to leave.


Other supporters stay with their loved one, but it is like a living hell.  They are screamed at and called names, all day long.  But they have to put up with it, because their loved one refuses to go into the hospital, and they are afraid of what would happen if they weren’t there.


Then there are other supporters who have worked out systems with their loved one so that their lives are relatively crisis-free and stress-free.  Here’s an example:


Bob and Jane (not their real names) both have bipolar disorder.  They have a system that they have developed that works for them, that they worked out one day between episodes.  Let’s use Jane as an example, although it works just as easily on Bob.  One day Bob notices that Jane seems sort of depressed, and asks her about it.  Jane tells him she’s having a “bad bipolar day,” and just wants to stay home, under the covers, and read a book.  Bob says ok.  The second day, Jane wants to do the same thing.  Bob says, “uh-uh.  At least do one thing.  Just one thing.  Get out of bed and do something.  But get out of bed.”  The third day, Jane still feels the same way, and Bob says, “It’s ok to feel the way you do, but you’re still going to get out of bed today.  You’re still going to do something today.  In fact, you’re going to get out of the house today.  Go shopping, go visit a friend, whatever – but go somewhere outside of the house.”


See, Bob knows that one of the biggest triggers to a bipolar episode for Jane is isolation.  So, although he allows her one day, which many “normal” people have, he will not allow her three days, because that will lead to an episode for her.  And she has the same system for him.  They call it their “3-day Plan,” and it works for them.


Whatever system you develop for you, make sure it’s one that is relatively simple, so you can follow it.  Make sure it’s realistic, so it will work.  And make sure you work it out in between episodes, so your loved one has a say in it, and later can’t say they didn’t know about it!  Have them sign it if you need to, to show it to them later when they’re in an episode.