My friend is going through a very difficult time and I’m not sure how to help him. He has been with his Japanese wife for eight years and it has been an unhappy relationship for a while. He has tried to end it several times, but she threatens suicide, so he goes back. I think she’s just manipulating him and I want to tell him to leave her, but fear that if I do and something terrible happens, I also would be responsible. —Concerned Friend
Dear Concerned Friend,
We passed your question on to the good people at TELL. Here’s what they had to say…
“You sound torn about how to best support your friend. Ending a relationship is never easy and a very stressful, emotionally challenging time for everyone involved. You are right to be concerned about your friend’s wife. One of the many false myths surrounding suicide is that people who threaten or talk about suicide are just seeking attention and won’t follow through with the act. People who threaten suicide should always be taken seriously. Most people who are on the verge of ending their life are hurt, depressed, lonely and/or feel like all hope is lost. They often see suicide as the last option to end their emotional suffering. Additionally, if the person feels you think they are just seeking attention, they may go out of their way to prove how much pain they are in and that they are serious.
Please tell your friend that getting professional help will be important for both him and his wife. TELL has numerous bilingual counselors who specialize in couples counseling in Tokyo. Their approach includes help with ending relationships. They can also give information about services in other parts of Japan. It will be important not to confront your friend’s wife, accuse her of being manipulative, place blame or get into power struggles. You can give the Lifeline’s hours and number to your friend; the line can help him sort through his feelings, talk through options and, hopefully, find a way forward. The police are another important source of support if anyone is actively threatening to kill themselves. They also have an English-speaking number (03-3501-0110) that operates from 8:30am-5:15pm Monday through Friday. Your friend is lucky to have your support, which will be important to him as he tries to navigate the end of his marriage. Please know that the Lifeline is also there for you yourself, as you may be feeling stressed and anxious. Sharing your concerns in a safe, confidential and anonymous environment can help ease the load.”
Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year, or visit their website at www.telljp.com
Following the death of Robin Williams, TELL has expressed concern about unsafe suicide reporting. See their full response here: http://meturl.com/tellwill
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