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I've attempted suicide about half a year ago. I was very unstable and very stupid, but at least I survived. I'm currently stable, both mentally and physically (and have the necessary professional support).

As most people don't have to and don't want to know that I attempted suicide, I simply tell them a lie fairly close to the truth: I simply give a reason such that the 'incident' can be considered an 'accident' (My injuries are still visible, so I have to say something at least). Most of the time, this works well, people don't really pry when they hear a satisfactory explanation.

However, there are people who I think should know the truth. In particular, I think a group of old friends should know. We haven't seen each-other (except a few) for quite some time, so I've been unable to get a conversation with most of them so far. I really need to do this face to face in the same room, this is not something I can do over the internet or phone.

Recently, we've made plans for a 'reunion' of some sorts, where we simply want to go out in town and have diner and some drinks to catch up.

This provides an opportunity for me to tell them (as we're all together again), but I prefer to get everyone somewhere private and comfortable (A restaurant/bar isn't private enough, a back-alley isn't comfortable enough), as this topic is both very private, and, from what I've seen in others, quite shocking.

Luckily, one of the friends (hereafter friend X) who does know the truth lives nearby town. So, I could try to arrange with X to get everyone at X's place and then I can tell them. I'm confident that, if everyone is in a private room, I can tell them in the way I'd like to.

The problem is, I really don't want any questions before meeting there. So I'd prefer to get them there by subtle means. I currently see two options:

  1. I could get everyone to gather at X's place before we go to town, and tell them before we go out. The advantage is that I can be subtle, but the disadvantage is that I could very well ruin the mood for the rest of the evening. I'm perfectly fine with leaving it there and just catching up with friends afterwards, but I'm not sure whether my friends will feel the same way.

  2. I could try to gather people after X's we go to town. Problem is that I can't say something like "Let's have an afterparty at X's", as I'm pretty sure at least some of my friends would decline the offer. So I cannot be subtle in that case, I'll have to essentially force them to X's place and give awkward silence on the way there. This has the additional risk that people really have to leave and that I still can't tell everyone.

To recap, I want to achieve a private meeting with my friends, but I want to avoid explaining why before we arrive and avoid ruining the rest of the evening. I understand that achieving all of these goals may be impossible, but I'd appreciate someone else's perspective on this.

  • 1
    Two things come to my mind. I wouldn't be surprised if most or all of them know already about your attempted suicide. It's just something people talk about (behind your back). Another question is if your friends really want to know the details. I don't want to say they don't care about you. But maybe they prefer to have a good time with you and talk about something which is fun and brings everybody in a good mood. I guess talking about your experience won't enlighten anybody's mood. That doesn't mean avoid at all cost talking about this but I think make sure you don't put this center stage. – user8838 Feb 18 '18 at 11:30
  • @Edgar I doubt that most know. I've met some of them in non-private situations and they seemed genuinely surprised when the noticed my injuries. (They might have guessed the true reason, but I doubt they'd do more than guess). – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 11:42
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    @Edgar Second, I'm fully aware that the truth hurts and perhaps they'd rather stay in the dark. However, this is not what I want. Call me selfish, but I want to be able to rely on my friends in times of darkness (depressions pretty much always resurface, I know at least thoughts of suicide will of one day return). This has been an event that has changed my perspective on many things. I think them knowing can at least make it easier to bring things up. Another group of friends knows the truth and it has made some conversations possible which I am grateful to have had. – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 11:44
  • @D.Hutchinson Perhaps I didn't mention this clearly enough, but I'm very much against letting people know this via any form of indirect communication. The main problem is that people get all sorts of ideas and questions in their heads which they answer by themselves before I can answer them. Furthermore, I can't see how they react and they may hide their reactions once we meet. You'd have to make a very strong argument to convince me this is a reasonable option. – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 11:47
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    Right now, your question is reading a bit like idea generation, which makes it primarily opinion based... Also, there's a lot of aspects one can address, and you can't really expect answers to take all of them into account: The timing (on the evening/not on that evening), the way to ask them to meet you privately without letting on to what you're about to go and tell them... What kind of questions are you trying to avoid beforehand? Is this more about the inviting or the timing? – Tinkeringbell Feb 18 '18 at 12:39
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I have never revealed to a group of people something as personal and serious as this, so instead I will be pulling from my experience in interventions, family meetings, funeral planning and other compulsory group conversations to answer your question.

Firstly, for your goal: to 'reveal' my suicide attempt to a group of old friends I think you are going about this the wrong way.

With the exception of one friend helping host, you are planning to execute this reveal to people you do not see often entirely yourself and right before going to a party. By comparing to an intervention, I will try to explain why I don't think this is the appropriate way to do this. In an intervention there are lots of essential components, some relevant examples are that it is important to do this as a group. A group of people helping would assist with organising before the conversation, with communication during the conversation (in this case you definitely want to be the one speaking the most, but having a portion of the people on your side before going into the conversation will still help), afterwards with damage control and also just for moral support. While possible, doing this alone will place a far larger amount of pressure on your shoulders that could otherwise be avoided. Another thing, you expressed a desire to not have questions about it beforehand. This is not exactly ideal, but it is understandable when comparing to interventions as sometimes they have a need to be 'sprung' on the person/s in question. The problem is that you are dropping this bomb right before a planned outing, whereas in an ideal intervention they would be close enough to the person that they know their schedule or are familiar enough that they can find a suitable time without trouble. You might not be able to do this but the principle still stands, and you should try to find a more appropriate time to tell them.

So how do I suggest you reveal it to your friends?

Overall, I suggest you do this by relying on your family and friends who are aware of the situation to help you tell your friends separately (for the most part). You may still want to do this as a group for the less close friends of that group, but I think it is important you have first broken the news to a few more than just your one friend and they are present/ready to help. The exact method might vary between people, you could invite them over for dinner, try to do various activities together and wait for the right time, call them to meet up somewhere or however you and your family/friends think is best, so long as you consult them and ask their help when needed. As you can tell, each of those suggestions were either [1:1] or [them : a group of people who already know] and it avoids the more difficult [you : a group of people who don't know] ratio. An example of what you might say to a semi-close friend in getting them to meet up is:

Hi [name] do you want to meet up at [food place], I have something I want to talk about.

Adapt to your liking, but saying that there is something you want to talk about keeps the anonymity of the reason of the meeting, while still letting them know the type of meeting and they are not going to come out to lunch expecting to party. Since it is a taboo subject, it is best to let them mentally prepare for something before the conversation rather than springing it on them. They may ask what it is, and you can choose how much you want to tell them.

I will tell you at lunch

being your fall back response. This example does not really need too much support from friends/family, but if we adapt it to the scenario of a group lunch, you could invite one person who knows and then 1 or 2 who don't to keep the balance even and reduce the weight. The more people you want to tell at once, the more that already know should be present.

TL:DR

I think you should organise this meeting with the help of people who know already, in a context where you won't be alone facing all of them at once and at a more understanding time than right before an outing.

  • Thanks for the answer. There's more than one friend in the group who knows, but most are in the dark. My initial plan was to tell this one on one when I get the chance, but as this hadn't really happened yet in quite a while, I thought that maybe I could get it 'over with' like this. But that probably isn't the best idea. – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 15:29
  • I guess I could be taking more initiative in meeting them then.The 'inviting for lunch' is not something that would work for all friends, but it could work for most of them. I think I can find a quite corner in the cafeteria to talk. They definitely know something's up if I'm inviting them like that (I normally never do that). However, they won't know what's up, so that is actually pretty ideal: they are 'prepared' in the sense that they can expect something serious, but don't know enough to make judgements before I actually tell them. – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 15:31
  • @Half-titanium-legman Glad you found it useful :) Just to touch on apaul's answer, I have often referred to friends/family who know about it when talking about support/consultation and obviously in some of those situations your therapist would apply too. – Jesse Feb 18 '18 at 16:20
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I agree with the part of this answer that cautions against doing this in a group, especially in conjunction with what was supposed to be a fun activity. Instead, you should tell people (who you want to know) in one-on-one conversations. I haven't had to communicate anything this serious to others, but I've been on the receiving end of revelations that were similarly serious.

If you try to do it in a group, it's almost certainly going to be awkward -- some people will be uncomfortable and will want to talk about anything else, some will want to ask you questions but maybe not in front of all these other people, some will want to discuss it, somebody might crack a joke... people react to news involving psychological issues in very different ways, and doing it in a group is a disservice to everybody.

In a one-on-one conversation, you can react to how the person is reacting to you -- you can say more or less, can provide reassurances, can move the conversation along to another topic, can answer questions. If you feel the need to tell people about this, you probably want them to be able to react honestly and you then want to address that, right? So tell them in a way that allows that. No matter what happens, you aren't putting the other person in an awkward position in front of other people.

Finally, as this answer says, you should discuss this with your therapist, who is already helping you work through whatever led you to that point and its consequences. Your therapist is in a better position than anybody else to guide you in having these conversations.

  • "you should tell people (who you want to know) in one-on-one conversations." __ totally right @Monica Cellio, and that's the answer I would have written, so I upvote! – English Student Feb 19 '18 at 9:46
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It depends

When I read your question, I first assumed this was a large group of friends, maybe 10 or so. However, I notice you don't actually say.

If it's 3, really close friends (e.g., you're a circle of friends from high school, or something like that) then it might be completely appropriate to inform them as a group somewhere relatively private. Simply say:

I have something important I want to discuss with you guys - can we meet at X's place to talk about it?

However, if it's a large group, with a mix of friends of different degrees of closeness, it's very likely a bad idea. Some will be helpful, some will find it awkward, some might not take it seriously. You could get a whole range of unhelpful reactions.

Discuss this with your therapist and others

As the other answer has said, this is a situation beyond the help of strangers on the internet. Talk to your therapist. Talk to family members or other friends who already know about your suicide attempt. Telling people this news will be a major shift in your relationship with them, so make use of your existing relationships for support.

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First a cautionary note...

I would strongly recommend asking your therapist before taking any advice you find here. They'll know more about your individual case and will have a better picture of where you are in your treatment and recovery.

I advise caution because revealing something this personal, and having people react badly, may end up being a set back to your recovery. You'll need to be in a strong enough place to handle whatever these people throw at you in response.

If, after discussing it with your therapist, you decide to disclose. It's probably better to do it on a separate occasion, in an environment that you have some control over (not in a bar or cafe.) Inviting them to your home is probably a good plan. You could try to make plans to do this when you all get together for your reunion as a follow-up.

It's been good to see everyone again. We should really do this more often. How about getting together for food/drink at my place sometime soon?

The advantage of inviting everyone to your place is that it allows you to set the time, tone, and audience. It also avoids some of the pitfalls of trying to do it before or after the already planned event.

Again, and I really can't stress this enough, talk to your therapist about all of this first.

  • I agree that inviting them to my place is a good idea in theory. However, my place is actually quite far from where the others live (I commute daily), so they don't tend to come all the way there except for birthdays and such. So I'm not sure if I'm able to pull this off. I'm aware this has risks for both myself and the others, but I think I have the strength to handle my part in this. But that too, is perhaps something I should confirm with my therapist. – Half-titanium-leg man Feb 18 '18 at 15:53

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