Concerned That My Cousin Might Be Suicidal

Published: March 11, 2013
Dear Concerned That My Cousin Might Be Suicidal,
Hi, I have a cousin who just lost her mom, (so my aunt,) I never really met either, but I know my cousin is really depressed as he should be. My Family received a call earlier today saying that my great aunt had died. He was really despondent, and talked of suicide. Of course, we want to do something, but we don't know him well, and we live two states away. He said not to call again, nor visit, nor really to anything to help him. But my family feels if we don't do something, he might end his life. What should we do? Should we visit him anyway and try to convince him to see a psychiatrist or something? Really need your advice and thanks.

Dear Concerned That My Cousin Might Be Suicidal,

TeenHealthFX can appreciate that your cousin would be going through a really hard time right now with losing his mother. We can also appreciate how scary it must be for you and your family to think that he might do something to harm himself.  If you and your family have any concerns that he might be suicidal, we recommend the following:

Since your cousin lives two states away, notify someone who lives close to him right away about your concerns. Perhaps someone in your family could talk to a family member of his who lives nearby so that they can reach out to help him. It is important that somebody who is physically close to him right now knows about your worries – somebody who can talk to your cousin about setting up a consultation with a mental health professional or who can talk to a counselor at his school about what is going on to get some guidance on how to best help him.

While your cousin is basically telling your family to leave him alone, FX does not think that is a good idea if he might be suicidal. Your parents should continue to check in on him, letting him know that your family is there for him and offering suggestions of where he can reach out for help. If your family is able to visit him, FX thinks that could be helpful, too. For one thing, it shows him how much he is cared about by others. Second, it gives your family the opportunity to see where he is at emotionally and assess the supports he has around him. Finally, it would give members of your family the chance to discuss your concerns with him in person and offer ideas about where he can get help.

As for resources, your family could send the following onto your cousin:

  • If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
  • If you get to the point that you are seriously considering suicide or are afraid of your impulses then you need to seek help immediately. You can call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. In northern New Jersey you can also call the crisis hotline from Morristown Memorial hospital at 973-540-0100. Outside this area call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), available 24 hours a day, or the Suicide & Crisis Hotline, 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • FX also suggests that you look into Rainbows, a non-profit, international organization that works to help children and teens who have had to deal with some kind of loss in their lives.
  • Check out the website Grief Speaks, including the section on Teen Grief.
  • If you need some additional support, if you live in New Jersey you can call 2NDLFOOR, a confidential and anonymous helpline for teens and young adults, at 1-888-222-2228. If you aren’t from NJ, please 211 for assistance and support.
  • National Hopeline Network, 1-800-784-2433, or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline , 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • offers resources for specific states.

If at any point you or your family members are feeling unclear as to how to handle this situation, call one of the hotlines listed above for information and guidance or talk to a school social worker or school psychologist at your school who can give you advice on what to do. Whatever your family does, they should keep trying until your cousin gets the help he needs.