How to handle husband's suicidal thoughts
October 7, 2012 11:58 AM   Subscribe

After discussing marital separation my husband searched online for what happens to life insurance in the event of suicide

My husband and I have had marital issues for a while stemming from my inability to trust him after discovering that he was visiting erotic massage parlors. We have been to counseling for 4-5 month and I still feel angry and like I just can't trust him. After confronting him initially he was defensive, directed anger at me, and denied realizing what he was doing was wrong etc., so I never felt true closure or the ability to move on.

After walking around angry for months with no real emotional "improvement" in my desire to be intimate with him we discussed separation last night. He was comforting, said he would support me, that our children need a happy mother, that this might be our only chance at me getting some space and loving him again. We said we would work to figure out the logistics of it all and I cried a lot.

Was just looking at a computer he was on today and I see this morning that he searched online for what happens to life insurance in the event of suicide in our state. He wasn't using private browsing and we both share the computer. the tab wasn't open but you could see in the history that he had searched for what happens to life insurance on google and then read about it.

What do I do now??? Was this on purpose so I would see it? How do you handle someone having suicidal thoughts, do I call someone???
posted by momtothreedc to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you're in the US; look at the There Is Help wiki page for all other options.
posted by SMPA at 12:02 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Has your husband exhibited other signs of suicidal ideation? Giving away posessions, sleep disturbance, sudden mood swings either up or down...? If he's depressed then you may want to talk to him about it. My feeling, as a married man who can picture myself in this scenario, he was probably just having a morbid thought and wanted to satisfy his curiosity :)
posted by signsofrain at 12:02 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tell your marriage counselor. Ask her what to do.
posted by discopolo at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

i don't believe he has exhitibed any other signs, our conversation was late last night and he searched for it this morning. have called our counselor and waiting for a call back.
posted by momtothreedc at 12:06 PM on October 7, 2012

Please pardon my bluntness, especially during such a difficult time for you. You must tell someone and he needs to know you have done so. In the chance he is serious, you must consider it is not his suicide he is researching.
posted by Feisty at 12:07 PM on October 7, 2012 [80 favorites]

Nthing Feisty. My first thought was premeditated murder as well. I find myself frightened for you.
posted by zia at 12:10 PM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

I agree with Feisty. He may think you're suicidal. This is a matter for your marriage counselor.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2012

Bring it up with him. Anything else would be presumptuous and probably infuriating for him.
posted by tehloki at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Without getting into too many personal details here please do not wait. Do not even wait for a marriage counselor to get back to you. This might be nothing but it might be something very serious. Definitely call 1-800-273-8255 NOW. If this is something in his mind it's not out of the question that he could act on it very quickly.

I apologize because I know this comes off as super melodramatic and I don't intend to be that way but as someone who has some of my own mental health issues please please please deal with this now.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Forgive my laziness in copying my own words but when it comes to threats of suicide (and yeah, leaving where you could see it was most likely a threat) there are two types basically.

"I'm going to kill myself because I am in distress and see no way out" and
"I am going to threaten to kill myself to manipulate you to do something you don't want to do or put up with an unhealthy situation so I don't have to take responsibility for my life.".

I have no idea which one your partner falls in but your response should be the same. It is a crisis that professionals need to respond to. This either gets him the help be needs or teaches him he cannot manipulate you. You can involve professionals in different ways: take him to his doctor, call a crisis team to your house (not all areas have this), call the police, take him to ER or a psych hospital, etc.

From your last question there is clearly comething going on with your husband and his inability to take responsibility. You have put up with too much for too long. Seperation is the best choice for you, the children and (although he doesn't believe it) your ex.
posted by saucysault at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

Bring it up with him. Anything else would be presumptuous and probably infuriating for him.

Following up: yes, this is potentially infuriating for him. I also would be infuriated at my husband but you know what? It's the right thing. It's his life. Don't fuck around with that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2012

I don't want to minimize suicidal ideation but please don't catastrophize this either. Thinking about suicide is not uncommon when someone is facing a potentially devastating life change like marriage separation. Thinking about suicide, even googling it, is not the same as planning it. If a loved one reviewed my internet history during one of my depressions, I'm sure they'd worry too, but I've never planned suicide despite thinking about it and fulfilling morbid curiousity.

Please talk to him. Tell him you saw his internet history. Ask him if he's considering suicide or just feeling really depressed. It sounds like even though you're angry at him, you still love and care about him. Let him know that you're there for him and that you'll support him seeing a counselor. Ask him to promise to tell you or someone else if he begins to make serious plans to end his life. There are lots of resources available for immediate assistance. Some of them have been posted above.

Feisty and Zia mention that this might be an issue of homicidal, as opposed to suicidal ideation. Unless your husband is an computer/internet idiot, I doubt he'd leave google evidence of planning your murder.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:20 PM on October 7, 2012 [8 favorites]

First of all, who is the life insurance policy on? If it covers him, he's thinking of himself. If it covers you, I'd be reevaluating my safety. If neither one of you has one, pay close attention if he talks about getting a policy. DEFINITELY tell your counselor.

People who have solidly decided on suicide often don't exhibit the obvious warning signs like giving stuff away, especially if there is a spouse who automatically can inherit it all. They may secretly make a will or write a detailed letter regarding their estate. They will often seem happy and content because everything is "settled" and they don't have to worry about anything anymore. A lot of people don't recognize those signs so I wanted to make you aware.

I wod also talk to him about it. Feel him out in conversation. Asking someone about suicide doesn't give them the idea...obviously the thought has already crossed his mind. Your counselor can give you some tips on having that conversation based on your relationship, as he/she knows you more than I.
posted by MultiFaceted at 12:22 PM on October 7, 2012 [22 favorites]

What multifaceted said - make sure that you're safe.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:34 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is that the only thing he searched at that time? Is he good at secret activity re: the massage parlors? Is he a morning or evening person? Does he have a history of being a curious person? We can't do anything except freak out without enough information to understand him.
posted by michaelh at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

On reflection, make sure YOU aren't taking on his responsibilty to be safe. When I said to involve professionals I meant let the professionals know and let him deal with them ... don't then get caught up in trying to "save him".

stemming from my inability to trust him after discovering that he was visiting erotic massage parlors

You mean, his inability to rebuild your trust after he broke it multiple times over many years. This comment, and others from your other question made me worry that you have accepted a lot of blame/responsibility for his actions in this realtionship - a really difficault unhealthy dynamic to break out of if he is now escalating his manipulations with threats of suicide. If anything, I think you and the children should leave him sooner than planned to be safe both physically and mentally.
posted by saucysault at 12:58 PM on October 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

Simplest rationale is almost always the likeliest :

You suggested separation - he is devastated and contemplating suicide. Life insurance so his suicide could support you and the kids after his demise. He's insuring his death does not invalidate the insurance proceeds to you. He said the kids should have a good mother.

In separation vs life, life wins. Put off proceeding with your separation logistics, and help your husband seek professional help. This is "suicide watch" area, no time for speculation. Err on the side of caution - - You can always separate later.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

OP- just spoke to my husband and let him know that I saw what he had searched and was concerned. He claimed that he was researching something for working on his will and it was something that needed to be done if we are separating. Doesn't make sense to me but it was his explanation. I expressed concern and he said he loved our children too much and was too vain to hard himself. I did let him know that I had told two close family members about what happened as I wanted their advice and he was dismayed that I had shared what happened with them. Thank you all for your advice.
posted by momtothreedc at 3:41 PM on October 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Lawyer up immediately and stay with relatives. Bring your children. Please take this really, really seriously. This is not normal behavior and his response to your concern was not appropriate.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:49 PM on October 7, 2012 [17 favorites]

There's such thing a suicidal ideation, where people see suicide an answer to their problems. They talk about it. They use it to get attention. But they'll never do anything near it.

Other people mention it once or twice and then they're gone. Have known a few of those and it's horrible.

Only professionals can identify which is which. Both cases represent distress and need attention. Separation is very stressful, and stress takes people to bad places.

It is not your responsibility to get him healthy and functional, but believe me, you will have it on your soul if you could have done something – anything – and didn't.

Involuntary Commitment is a very real – and sometimes necessary option. If he's not serious, it's an inconvenience.
posted by nickrussell at 4:19 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by hermitosis at 5:28 PM on October 7, 2012

[Folks, the murder thing is a little left-field and covered about as much as it needs to be. Please stick to the actual question from here on out. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:30 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's such thing a suicidal ideation, where people see suicide an answer to their problems. They talk about it. They use it to get attention. But they'll never do anything near it.

This answer implies that suicidal ideation is a bluff. That is not correct. People who don't commit suicide sometimes have suicidal ideation, but people who do kill themselves also have suicidal ideation. It means thinking about or planning killing yourself, but there's no way for random Ask Mefi answerers to know what's going on here.
posted by purpleclover at 5:36 PM on October 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

What other people have said is true, but...

You don't trust him. He knew that. You are aware of his search history. He knew that.

This stinks to high heaven of a clumsy attempt at manipulation and an emotional retaliation for the divorce discussion. And you are falling for it big time.

Yes, check in with health professionals but I would not give one bit of emotional ground to your husband over what amounts to emotional blackmail.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:58 PM on October 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Way back when I was a much more petulant, immature shithead than I am today, I fucked up my marriage BIG TIME.

I threw out the whole "I want to kill myself" thing, because well, I felt like the world's biggest asshole.

My lovely wife responded (VERBATIM) "Please kill yourself somewhere else other than here and let your mom know where to find your body, because one, I'm not going to clean up your mess, two, you are not allowed to do that to our children and three, it's the least you can do for me with whatever love remains in your heart."

A rather brilliant response, I thought. YMMV.
posted by roboton666 at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2012 [15 favorites]

Glad you've contacted the counselor, OP. Hope they get back to you soon. Sorry you got an unsatisfactory answer from your husband. That probably didn't make you feel any better.

If you do call the hotline, they really will help you figure out if you need to take other steps immediately, or, if not, what things to watch out for to keep your peace of mind as much as you can.

nickrussell is wrong - suicidal ideation does happen for people who do end up killing themselves. Any threat or implication should be taken seriously, or at least received as useful data for decision-making in the very near future.

This is an unfortunate situation to be in, and I wish you good help quickly.
posted by batmonkey at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2012

I don't agree with nickrussel's suggestion, which is to consider involuntary commitment, but they are not saying suicidal ideation is imaginary. They're saying sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't, and if you're not a mental health professional you can't tell.

I would definitely bring up this issue (the suicide and insurance search) as soon as possible with your counselor and see what they recommend.
posted by winna at 7:25 PM on October 7, 2012

Because his interest in suicide involves a new situation, I think you have done the right things by calling people for help and letting your family know.

There are people who are chronically suicidal, or have been suicidal before, but what you describe is that things changed the night before you found the search, which makes this concerning.

The counselor may be out of the office today and tomorrow (a holiday for some), so if you feel unsafe, please go to stay with family.

Good luck and stay strong.
posted by artdesk at 7:30 PM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything about your home life, but if this were my home and if we owned a gun (we don't) I know I would get the gun out of the house. I would put it in a safe deposit box or I would have a relative or friend hold it or I would just sell it. At the very least, I would make sure I had the only key to whatever is keeping it locked up. The person I worried about would have to go through me to get that gun. To someone thinking seriously about suicide, a gun just sitting around the home is a home built on the edge of a high cliff or an empty noose always just hanging from the garage rafters.
posted by pracowity at 1:11 AM on October 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

I would not delay the separation. That teaches him that this is an effective method of manipulation. At this point it was appropriate for you to report this to a professional who can help. Family members were a good choice as well. If you feel frightened please reach out, even if it will make him angry, but stay safe. The way he is acting makes him sound entitled and unempathetic towards you and I worry that he will become abusive.

There are multiple kinds of abusive behavior, not just physical. To protect yourself financially and protect your custody of your children, please retain an attorney immediately.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:02 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

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