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Borderline Personality Disorder & The Threat of Suicide

Updated on May 18, 2015

If you are not in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, but need someone to talk with about your suicidal feelings, please do not hesitate to call one of the following national suicide prevention lines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Here is a list of Suicide Prevention Hotlines by state:

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

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Living with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder can be very difficult. People with BPD may be suicidal every day. This is very difficult to deal with and it is responsible for the higher-than-average rate of hospitalization that is associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. Some people with BPD may need to feel suicidal so they can feel there is an escape from their problems. Because of this, suicidal threats or attempts are often a reactionary response to a perceived wrong. Many borderlines have almost no impulse control and emotions that seesaw violently from one extreme to another at the slightest provocation - and sometimes with no provocation at all. This is the biggest reason borderline patients are at the top of the suicide statistics list regarding mental illnesses, and why Borderline Personality Disorder is sometimes known as a "fatal" mental illness.

For classification, we've broken it down into three types of suicide attempts or threats that borderline patients may use:

Angry-Reactionary: This is a reaction to something, perceived or real. It is intended to be a a punishment of sorts, to “show” loved ones what they have driven the borderline patient to do. It should be taken seriously, as all suicidal threats should be.

Manipulative: This is a ploy to regain control over a person or situation, or to make a point. Borderline patients often use a threat of suicide to try to stop loved ones from leaving them or to get sympathy, attention, or whatever they need. This threat may seem innocuous, but it should be taken seriously. People with BPD often have no real awareness of consequences; they can very easily kill themselves “by accident.”

Depressive: A “real” suicide attempt where the intention is to cause death. Borderline patients believe they are somehow fundamentally damaged or broken. They often use terms like “damaged goods”, “toxic waste” and other similar labels to describe themselves. They may attribute these feelings to others, also; this is called ‘projection’ and is very, very common among BPD sufferers. This feeling plagues them their entire life and at times they just cannot take it anymore. This is the reality of Borderline Personality Disorder, with all the anger, manipulation and other defense mechanisms cast aside. It is ugly and painful.

It is terrible when a loved one has a mental illness. The threat of suicide or constant attempts can be almost unbearable. Please do not suffer alone and please don't ignore your loved one’s words. If you are in a situation you cannot handle, please call 911.

You should obviously never ignore a person talking about suicide but there are times when you should react immediately. Some of these are:

  • Appearing depressed or sad most of the time
  • Talking or writing about death or suicide
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling strong anger or rage
  • Feeling trapped — like there is no way out of a situation
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Exhibiting a change in personality
  • Acting impulsively
  • Losing interest in most activities
  • Experiencing a change in sleeping habits
  • Experiencing a change in eating habits
  • Losing interest in most activities
  • Performing poorly at work or in school
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Writing a will
  • Feeling excessive guilt or shame
  • Acting recklessly

Some of these apply to a person with Borderline Personality Disorder anyway so use your judgment as best you can. 75% of people who commit suicide do exhibit signs and people with BPD are very emotional and reactionary, so pay attention to what they say and do.

Some immediate crisis situations are:

  • The person with BPD is crying uncontrollably for a long period of time
  • The person has locked him- or herself away somewhere
  • The person has picked up a knife, rope, gun, razor blade, etc. [LEAVE FIRST!]
  • The person is hitting him- or herself or banging their head against walls or the floor
  • The person is cutting or engaging in self-mutilating behavior
  • The person says they have taken pills or something similar
  • You cannot find the person

In any of these situations, please call 911. It is better to be safe than sorry. They will help your loved one and your family.


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