A mental health/academic support quandary
October 4, 2009 8:30 PM Subscribe
I have some information which may be critical to my friend's future/safety, but I obtained it in a somewhat dubious way. I'd just like to hear your thoughts on the position I'm in.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So my friend has major, chronic mental illness--major depression and probably Borderline Personality Disorder, among other things--and tends to self-destructive behavior, including one past suicide attempt and many threats. He's studying for a standardized grad school admission test, which is critical to his future (he has unique opportunities this year). He's studying using an online course, and is taking the test in just a week or two. He claims that he's reasonably far along in the materials, but that he hasn't touched any of the practice tests yet.
For various reasons (mostly past behavior and a shifty disposition on the topic), I had a very strong suspicion that he wasn't actually keeping up with his work. Anything that wrecks his chances of getting into grad school this year would be a suicide trigger for him--he's made that much clear--so I'm very concerned that on some level he's knowingly sabotaging this so that he has an alibi for desires he admittedly already contends with day-to-day.
So here's the sketchy part: I figured out the password to his online coursework, and found that indeed, he's done practically nothing, and last logged in over a month ago, but he did do the non-written parts of the initial practice test, and got something really low (around the 30th percentile). I don't necessarily take that score to mean much, because he may have just been blowing through the first test to get a feel for the difficulty level, but I am highly concerned by the fact that he doesn't seem to be studying. The only reason I sunk to this is that there's at least some small possibility that a life is at stake.
One monkey wrench is that a large portion of the study work for the course (I think a safe majority) is in the books, so it's conceivable that he's moving along OK in those and he's just lying for whatever reason about how much he's bothering with the online work. I can't think of much of a motivation for that, except that I know he wants me not to worry too much about him, so perhaps he's glossing over the details for my sake.
Eventually I will come clean with all this, but I think it's also dangerous to subject him to the stress of the revelation right now. In the future, when he's in a relative upswing in terms of mental health, I think he'll likely interpret it as a justified intervention; right now, of course, it'd probably feel like at least somewhat of a betrayal. Is there any subtler way I could try to steer this situation without blowing my cover? And, more than that, do you guys have any general thoughts about what to do from here that might be more coherent than my own?
I'm sure I'll get at least a few critical responses about what I've chosen to do so far. I myself am somewhat morally conflicted about it, but understand that there are more nuances to the background of this than I've included here, and I'm about 95% sure that my friend will ultimately be grateful that I did this.
Any private responses can go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much in advance!