During a bipolar manic episode, your loved one may become violent, even if they have never been violent before.  During a depressive episode, they may still show violent behavior, only it will probably be self-directed.  Either way, you need to be prepared for this eventuality.   There are several ways to do this, as I outline on my website devoted to bipolar disorder, but I will go over a few of them in this article.

 

Following are some suggestions to minimize the risks of harm due to violence during a bipolar episode: 

 

·         Get rid of any knives, guns, or other weapons in your home, or keep them locked up (with only you or another person having the key).

 

·         Keep your loved one away from alcohol and drugs – they will only make the situation worse.

 

·         If you become frightened by your loved one, you may have to call the police.

 

If your loved one already has a tendency to get angry and/or violent during their bipolar episodes, I would encourage you to talk to your local police department beforehand and explain the situation, just in case it should come down to that.  The reason is that there have been stories in the newspaper where this has happened and, when the police were not informed ahead of time, the person with bipolar disorder was shot by the police.

 

Make sure that if you do have to call the police that you STAY on the scene if at all possible, so that instead of going to jail or being shot, your loved one has a better chance of going to the hospital and getting the treatment that they need.

 

You should also inform the 9-1-1 operator who answers your emergency call that they will be dealing with someone who has bipolar disorder.  Even if the operator isn't aware of the disorder, they can pass that information on to the police.

 

If your loved one is threatening self-harm, you MUST take their threats seriously.  First encourage them to seek treatment voluntarily; however, if you must, take the above steps and call the police.  Stay with your loved one and explain the situation to them.  You can also have your loved one call the suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or, if they won't do it for themselves, you can do it and put them on the line.

 

Remember that whether your loved one has never threatened violence to you or themselves before is not the issue.  When they are in a bipolar episode, there is no telling what they can do.  It is best to be prepared for violence or self-harm just in case.