Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Suicide and obsessive thinking

I am sad to report that my 26 year old son made another very serious suicide attempt. We nearly lost him this time. He is in the regular hospital and going back for more surgery today. I spent the afternoon with him yesterday and he is in a very bad mental state. The hospital has placed someone in the room with him 24/7, but he expressed his desire to die to me many times yesterday. One thing that really struck me about the conversation we had was his continued obsession with an incident that occurred about six weeks ago. The incident was entirely in his own mind. He has for several years now been obsessed with jewelry and believes that if he can find the right chain to wear, he will be able to do anything in life. On some level he realizes this is an unhelpful and unrealistic way of thinking and wants to give it up. The incident that he is now obsessing over is that he believes that he had an opportunity to give up the jewelry obsession but chose not to. In other words, he is obsessing over a thought that he had six weeks ago.

Does anyone here have experience dealing with this sort of obsessional thinking in their loved one? Have you had any luck in helping them move beyond this sort of thinking?

I am so very sorry to hear this.
Our son, at his very lowest, obsessed over an unkind comment he made to a girl in his 8th grade class. He was 21 when he had this obsession. He told us that he felt the only way to make amends was to hurt himself.
Luckily, that was enough to get him to the hospital. It was a very scary time.
The doctor started him on Lexapro which works on OCD (not a dr. just repeating what he told us). That obsession went away with time but we didn’t let him out of our sight for a few months.
It took 4 more years to get him on the right med for his delusions. But he still takes the Lexapro as well. I am convinced most doctors don’t see obsessions and delusions as separate entities but they were in our son’s case as well as yours.
My heart goes out to you and your son.
The shock of that time is still fresh in my mind.
You are in my thoughts and please keep us posted.

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I’ve witnessed delusions and obsessions in my brother for the past several decades. He also attempted suicide once. Beyond the basics–adjusting meds as Hangininthere suggests, doing the LEAP method–you might find a shift occur if you recall, as I force myself to do, that underneath the schizophrenic mind is also, often, a mind of great intelligence. That could–could!–mean you stop responding verbally to the repetition over the jewelry obsession and just validate how absolutely stressed out he is and you wish him well as he sorts it out. Only you know if that sort of tough trust (or abandonment) will help. I’m not a doctor, just a sibling who has had to deal with this for a long, long time.

There might also be a sort of mental habit or groove between you and your son that he continues to tread, which means it could–could–help him to talk with someone else. Someone else who will respond totally differently. Another family member or friend might jolt him into letting go of the thought or switching gears.

Lastly, even in the darkest of times, I have experienced that a joke or several can help my brother change his thoughts midstream. Grasping at straws here, but that is part of this experience, isn’t it?

I hope you are having a better day and things are turning around. My thoughts are with you.

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Thank you @Hanginginthere and @chimain for your replies and kind words. It truly makes a difference in my life.

I think it is very insightful what you say @chimain about the possibility of a mental groove existing between two people. My son definitely shares with me a lot more things then he does with other people and I can see how perhaps I am providing a mental foothold that is feeding into his obsession. I don’t agree with what he is saying but I definitely understand that that is his experience and I certainly don’t try to talk him out of it.

Yesterday I sat with him for another three hours while we were waiting for the second surgery. Interestingly he had moved on from the deep remorse over having a thought six weeks ago and right back into the original obsession with the jewelry. He is drawing sketches of a chain design and wants me to contact a silversmith to see if such a design is possible. I see some signs of bipolar (it feels a little manic the way he talks about the chain - intensely drawing and writing about designs) as well as OCD in these thoughts.

After his last suicide attempt, he was diagnosed with “Major Depressive Disorder, recurrent episode, severe and Unspecified Schizophrenia Spectrum and other Psychiatric Disorder”. He was given a prescription of 20 mg Abilify and 20 mg Prozac per day, which he refused to take within a few days of his discharge. My thoughts now are that I wish the psychiatrist would address his obsessional thinking as this is what is causing him so many immediate problems. The voices, which he has told me he does hear, are not causing him a whole lot of angst. I almost feel like we could live with those, if he could just get some relief from the obsessional thoughts.

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It sounds like obsessive compusive disorder. My friends son had that, he got it as Junior in HS., but got treatment with a good professional and takes meds and has been doing pretty good. Rides bikes a lot to help. He was stuck and had those odd thoughts, and they paralized hin to do other things.
Try a DNA test to get the right medications, and which ones are good for your son, and try nutrition, and medication, therapy to deal with it.
I know one time I was a worrier, and I worried that I worried, and it was a vicious cycle. It was a little like an obsessive compulsive person, but went away or dicipitated, so I kind of relate a little and understand, but dont have it like some do. Can you get him a jewelry? then maybe hell forget it, and it will be something else. There has to be some psychs that work specifically with obsessive compulsive disorders, and others combined.

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Hi, yes. This is delusional thinking. A psychologist can help talk with him to sort out the difference between reality and delusion.
You can never argue with a delusion. It is their truth. But a skilled therapist can help them as well as good medicine. I hope tgat grlos some.

Hi @Steadfast,
How is your son doing?
I hope he is getting some relief from his obsessions/delusions.
Sending you :heart:

Thanks so much for asking after my son @Hanginginthere. He’s been in the psychiatric hospital for the past week. I am not able to see him there because of Covid, but he is able to call and I can call him. The first few days were hell. He was continually talking of killing himself and even made another attempt while in the hospital. They now have him on Risperidone, Wellbutrin, and Depakote and he has stopped with the suicidal ideation. He’s still holding onto his obsession with the jewelry, but he is no longer talking about how he messed up so badly 6 weeks ago when he felt he had an opportunity to give up the obsession. He is making an appeal for his release on Thursday. The court appointed doctors will let him know on Wednesday. I am putting all of my focus now on follow up care for when he does get out. Feeling quiet apprehensive about what the future holds for us.

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Just a little update. I wrote a letter to the court appointed psychiatrists explaining my son’s need for continued psychiatric care. I am really happy that they decided to advise against his release, so he will stay hospitalized at least for a little longer. He is sounding a lot better and has started reading again (I am able to drop books off for him). This is huge because he has not been able to read for at least a year.

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That is such good news! Here’s hoping that being able to read is reason enough for him to stay med compliant. Being able to focus on something other that intrusive thoughts must feel like real progress to him.
Hope you are able to do something nice for yourself while he is in the hospital.

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Hi @Hanginginthere and everyone else. I thought I would answer your message here so that anyone following this can get the update too. It is very kind of you to ask after my son.

After my son was refused his request for discharge the psychiatrist “cut a deal” with my son whereby he would be released if he agreed to an Invega Sustena shot. My son received the first dose 9 days ago and the second 6 days ago (apparently when starting on this monthly AP injectable two doses are given, the second stronger than the first). He had been given Risperidone up until then and apparently if you react well to the Risperidone then you should be ok with the Invega. They released him the day they gave him the second shot. He left the hospital with a prescription for Wellbutrin (bupropion), an anti depressant, as well as Depakote (sodium valproate) which is used to treat epileptic seizures, but is also a so-called mood stabilizer. They also scheduled him for follow up appointments with a therapist, a psychiatrist and the surgeon. So really the hospital did an amazing job as far as I am concerned.

It’s been a bumpy road at home, but I am feeling more hopeful then I have in the last ten years. He started out refusing the meds, and then took three times the dose of the anti-depressant when I wasn’t looking. At least he was honest about it. I am now dispensing the medication and as far as I know he is taking it. The Wellbutrin is definitely holding back the worst of the hopelessness, but I don’t understand why they have given him the Depakote. If we can make it to the first psychiatric appointment med compliant, it will be a big win in my book.

He is still obsessing over the chains. He has bought several with my money since he has been home. I believe he is suffering from OCD as well as having psychosis, but I don’t think the people at the hospital fully grasped his obsessive state. I have read that Prozac can be effective in treating obsessive thinking, so I am hoping that they may change him over to that from the Wellbutrin. Also hoping they will get him off of the Depakote as I have read that is for the manic phase of bipolar. I don’t see my son as suffering from mania. I am planning on writing a letter detailing some of this to bring with us to the psychiatric appointment in nine days.

The Invega does seem to be doing its job. It makes me realize that a lot of my sons peculiar behaviors (cheese in the socks, spilling everything all over the place, pacing, muttering) were all part of the psychosis. I would happily live without those for the rest of my life.

Gotta run, I hear him sobbing.

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I’m so glad to hear progress has been made with your son and his meds. My mother also stayed involved relentlessly when my brother had his initial onset and began treatment several decades ago. His case was and is very serious, but I think it would be so much harder to manage now–for him and for me as his sibling (who will eventually be in charge)–if she hadn’t advocated, pushed, learned, cared and pivoted as she did. Hope all goes well with the next appointment.

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Just giving another update for perhaps future browsers. Soon after my last post, I had to call 911. He was lying on the floor face down, sobbing and saying he wanted to kill himself. (This was all going on as trick or treaters came to the door - memorable Halloween!) The paramedics couldn’t do much because he calmed down for them and refused offers of a ride to the hospital. However, i think just the fact they came by made my son realize the seriousness of his situation and he has been compliant with taking the anti-depressant ever since.

About a week ago I noticed a change in his behavior - he began talking about his obsessions and was manifesting a lot of compulsive behavior. I thought it was the Invega wearing off early (he wasn’t due for a shot for another week) and got him in for another shot, which he took willingly. Only later did I discover three days worth of the mood stabilizer in his dresser drawer, so now I think I misread the symptoms and got him the Invega shot too soon. Poor guy has been very subdued for several days and I think it may be because he has too much anti-psychotic in his system. But he is, as far as I know, back on the mood stabilizer and things are very calm around here.

I am feeling so grateful that he is taking medication. I try not to let him know how much I am praying we can continue with the meds and follow up care. After ten years of struggles, it feels like a miracle, but I have to just play it cool.

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So sorry to hear you are “still in the thick of it” but glad things have started to improve. I have to say I’m surprised they have him on Wellbutrin since it is a stimulant but that may be what is necessary to pull him out of the depression. Hang it there! Keeping him on the injection is key and there should be more improvement the longer he’s on it.

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