DEAR ABBY: A friend I have known for about 10 years messaged me again tonight saying she was going to commit suicide. I tried to get her to go to a hospital, but she refused. When I told her I was going to contact the police, she backed down a bit. This has become an almost-nightly occurrence.
She’s going through a rough patch right now. She’s breaking things off with her drug-addicted longtime partner. She is also underemployed, in danger of being evicted and has cancer.
It is tough on me to talk her down from the ledge every night. Many of her problems are of her own making, but she can’t seem to see that. She can’t afford therapy. I have taken her to Al-Anon, but she quit after a short time.
I don’t know what to do. I hate to break it off with her because I’m afraid she will kill herself. I am the only friend she has left. How much longer do I hold on? — Sucked Dry in Kansas
DEAR SUCKED DRY: Because your friend is calling nightly threatening to harm herself, it appears she is using you to vent. That’s all right if it’s consensual and you have the emotional strength to handle it. If you don’t, and because you describe yourself as emotionally depleted (“sucked dry”), I’m advising you to start screening your calls. I’m not advising you to shut her out completely, but to allow yourself not to answer your phone unless you are feeling up for it. And if she threatens suicide again, follow through on contacting the police.
Needing some space
DEAR ABBY: I’m a 14-year-old girl and I need my own bedroom. Ever since I was born, I have shared a room with my 17-year-old sister. Maybe it was OK when we were younger, but now it is impossible. It’s crowded and annoying. I have no privacy, and I can’t decorate it how I want.
What makes this worse is that we have an extra room. My parents refuse to consider it and won’t give me a reason. It has gotten so bad I have moved into a closet. Every time I walk into my room I get a headache. I never hang out there anymore. Please help. — In the Closet in N.Y.
DEAR IN THE CLOSET: Your parents may be hoping you can come to a truce with your sister without having to sacrifice their guest room. If you feel your bedroom is crowded, it must be the same for her. If a truce isn’t possible, then you will have to continue hanging out in other parts of the house.
Although it may be inconvenient for you, your sister can’t help that she exists, and the sooner you accept it, the sooner your headache will lessen. As to redecorating the bedroom to suit your taste, be patient awhile longer. At 17, your sister should be nearly out of high school. In another year she’ll be 18, and the room will be all yours if she plans on going to college or finding a job, roommates and independence.
P.S. At that point, don’t be surprised if you miss her.