Help with 13 year old please!!

Crystal - posted on 12/17/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 13, she has been talking/texting a boy that is in the same grade but he is 15. He likes to play mind games with her and tell her he is going to cut himself or kill himself. How do I make her understand that is not a good situation for her to be in?

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Rebekah - posted on 12/17/2012

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I'm not hearing that he is making threats to your daughter, Crystal, so I wouldn't think that she is in physical danger.

I agree with Dove that authorities need to be notified, whether you contact his parents and/or the police so that he can be evaluated psychologically. He should be viewed as a serious risk to himself. We can't know for sure if its a true "mind game" or not, but let the mental health professionals sort that out. If he is playing a "game" to get her attention, its a dysfunctional kind of game indicating that he has issues that need to be sorted out anyway. If he IS truly suicidal or at risk for self-harm, then he obviously should get mental health treatment to stabilize him. Some youth will go to greater lengths beyond just talking about it (and may do irreparable damage or worse), so no assumptions should be made as to how serious he is or isn't.

As for your daughter's own emotional well-being, this is an opportunity to teach her about what healthy relationships are/aren't. Healthy friendships (or romances) don't involve manipulation, threats, guilt, or placing inappropriate expectations on each other (such as going to a 13 year old for "help" when feeling suicidal) (or furthermore asking that 13 year old to keep it a secret). It is great to want to help a friend who is struggling--and I know at this age kids prefer going to their peers instead of adults much of the time--but each young person has to know their limits and self harm and/or suicidality is nothing to joke about or keep hidden from the adults who can access the help that is needed for their friend. If she maintains a friendship with this boy, it should be with the understanding that if she has concerns about his safety, she is going to immediately share that with you, his parents, a teacher, etc. Talk with your daughter about what issues/topics warrant getting an adult involved (someone's safety, whether at their own hands or someone else's, should be a given). If he did act upon his impulses, your daughter may be overwhelmed with guilt. She needs to understand that she has an opportunity to help and spare them both from a worse situation.

There is a chance she may get upset with you reporting, or he may....but don't let that deter you. I work on an inpatient psychiatric unit for adolescents. It is far better to bring it to light than to minimize the danger and allow the possibility of the worst case to happen.

Dove - posted on 12/17/2012

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Save the texts and call the police immediately. That boy needs help and needs it now. AFTER the police get involved (and make sure they are aware that there is a potential danger to your child as well).... Inform the school also of the texts and your concerns with this boy. Then I'd be taking the phone away from my daughter, informing her that it is NOT smart for her to be going anywhere alone (even to the bathroom at school), and any time she is NOT in school.... she would be supervised by me or another adult until I could at least be somewhat reassured that this boy is getting the help he so desperately needs.

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