When Your Partner Threatens Suicide

When Your Partner Threatens Suicide

“I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”

It seems like a no-win situation. When someone you’re close to says something like this, it can feel like the world just stopped spinning.

People who have a mental illness, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, typically have a higher risk for suicide. Depression, a history of substance abuse, and other disorders carry risks as well. If your partner truly wishes to die and has a plan and intention to follow through, get immediate help. Call your local emergency number, or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

But what if your partner regularly threatens suicide, particularly whenever you’re not doing something they want you to do? First, understand that this is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you by playing on your feelings of love and fear for them. You might get angry when this happens, but you also might feel stuck giving in to them in order to avoid a potential tragedy. When your partner makes these threats repeatedly, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and possibly help your partner as well:

Tell your partner you care about them, but stick to your boundaries. Giving in to threats over and over does not make a relationship healthy, and it only allows anger and resentment to build on your end. You could say something like, “You know I care about you very much, and I understand you’re upset right now, but I will not _____.”

Put the choice to live or die where it belongs – on your partner. You can’t be responsible for another person’s actions, no matter what – and this includes when your partner chooses to be abusive. Say something like, “I think our relationship should be based on love and respect, not threats. I really care about you, but this is your choice and I can’t stop you from making it.”

Remember that no matter what your partner says, you don’t have to prove anything. Even though they might be saying something like, “If you really loved me, you’d stop me from killing myself,” the real truth is that there are unhealthy patterns in your relationship. Until those unhealthy patterns are addressed, they will most likely continue no matter how many times you give in to your partner’s demands.

Keep in mind that if your partner often says they’re going to kill themselves when things aren’t going their way, they’re not showing you love or a romantic gesture; they’re likely trying to control your actions. If this is the case, think about the tips above and try to get help where you can. You might try talking to a trusted family member, a school counselor, or other professional therapist. But remember, you are not your partner’s counselor, and you can’t force your partner to get help if they don’t want to. They have to make that choice for themselves.

Get in touch with one of our advocates by phone, chat, or text 24/7 if you need to talk or find additional support in your area. We’re here for you!

Comment section

2 replies
  1. Thanks so much. This article was very helpful to me. My mother-in-law committed suicide because she said if I didn’t give into her demands that it was my fault if she died. So I’ve been really struggling with that issue. But this helps me try to make sense of what happened.

    1. This post has been modified to remove any personal information per our community guidelines.

      Hello Charles,

      I’m sorry to hear that your mother-in-law put you through such a hurtful and traumatic experience. It is never okay to threaten someone with suicide. She is the only one responsible for her choice to commit suicide. It is completely understandable that you have been struggling to process this. I encourage you to contact us directly. Our advocates can go over your situation with you, discuss ways of healing and refer you to local resources for support. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-866-331-9474 or by text or chat through our website.

      Take care,
      Loveisrespect Advocate RG

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