What To Do When Your Ex IS SAFE And Threatens Suicide



At the end of a relationship, often one spouse copes better with the change than the other. One of the spouse may feel a sense of relief, optimism and elation compared to the other who is lost, confused and filled with remorse or regret. Grief is also a common emotion: Grief for the loss of what was, what could have been and what should have been in the marriage/union can cause people to behave in unusual ways after it has ended.

I once had a partner who (at break-up) said that if I wasn’t in his life, then he didn’t want to live. He liked to drive fast and I remember thinking that he was going to either wrap the car around a telegraph pole or drive it off a cliff. I recall being so stressed that I didn’t sleep at all that night. I heard every sound and siren out of my bedroom window. I didn’t know what the severity of the situation was or could have been and what I should have done. The next day, when I learned that he was safe and well, my first reaction was relief that he was safe followed by anger towards him for making me so concerned.

If your ex-spouse threatens suicide and the suicide threat is unexpected, you believe it is genuine or if you know of other contributing concerning and relevant circumstances (such as known underlying issues or mental health concerns), call the police ‘000’.

An ex-spouse who unexpectedly finds themselves single may want to control your happiness by making you stress, worry, become concerned and anxious to induce regret for breaking up. Your ex-spouse knows how to ‘get a rise’, aggravate and frustrate you. They will know that the fastest way to get you seriously concerned is to threaten suicide.

When someone says their final farewell, or says they want to end their life, it isn’t that they necessarily want to be back with you. Some reasons may be:

  1. They may want you to be more doting and have the attention back onto them again.
  2. They may want you to want them so they can dump you.
  3. They may delight in exercising some power over the way that you feel.
  4. It is just one more method of controlling and manipulating you.

By reaching out and saying their last goodbye, more often than not, the person is asking for attention rather than actually trying to end their life. Sometimes it isn’t a direct “I am going to kill myself.” The veiled messages are ambiguous which makes knowing how to best handle the situation even trickier. They may say things like:

  • ‘You were so good to me. Don’t ever forget that I will always love you’
  • ‘You’re the best mother/father. I will love you forever.’
  • ‘Look after those beautiful children. Remind them every day that I love them’
  • ‘I don’t want to live like this’
  • ‘How can you be happy when I am so miserable? It’s not fair. I am not going to do this anymore’
  • ‘Bye, bye. I am done’

It is commonly sprouted that if someone was going to commit suicide they would just do it and not tell anyone. However, you do need to take pre-cautions. As you can appreciate, every person is different and every situation is different.

However, if you are confident that your ex-spouse is safe, below are some techniques for you to employ

  1. Contact the police. Tell them you will call the police next time they threaten suicide or ‘farewell’ you and make sure that you do call the police the next time they do it. Contact your local police station or your ex-spouses’ police station and ask for a ‘Welfare Check’. You will need to provide the mobile number and address (or location that you believe your ex-spouse to be). The police will ask a number of questions pertaining to the severity of your concerns. Remember to tell them that you are an ex-spouse and the relationship has ended. The police will only have to visit once or twice for them to stop using this tactic as a ploy for your attention
  2. Call a family member and report the message or conversation to them. Your ex-spouse is no longer your responsibility and it is time for the family to step up and ensure that their brother/sister/parent/child is safe. Family have unique ways of understanding the needs of their members as well as not tolerating nonsense. Often, because they have known their family member all of their lives, they are better judges of how to best handle the situation.
  3. Encourage them to seek counselling or assistance from another source. Send them the number of suicide call back line or lifeline via message/SMS.
  4. Don’t give your ex-spouse the airtime. By all means, when your ex-spouse calls, they may be ringing to tell you about some mail that arrived or vehicle registration that needs renewing. However, when the conversation turns suicidal-like you need to immediately hang up the phone. By listening to what they have to say you are enabling them – giving them the attention that they are longing for. When you hang up the phone, you are no longer subjecting yourself to guilt and your ex-spouse will have no choice but to find another avenue to get attention (or get over themselves).
  5. Ask a close friend of your ex-spouse to keep in contact with them. By having someone else, aside from family, regularly checking-in on your ex-spouse, you are able to distribute the concern and responsibility among many.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact Emergency ‘000’. Alternative contact numbers are: Suicide Call Back Service - 247 Helpline 1300 659 467 LifeLine - 13 11 14 White Wreath Association – Action Against Suicide - 247 Helpline 1300 766 177 or 0410 526 562

For assistance creating healthy boundaries to emotionally protect yourself, arrange a Strategy Session today


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. DivorceAnswered.com.au cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd