He’s Threatening Self Harm. Now What?

Morning friend,

I want to invite you to invite your counselor, pastor, or any other people helper you know to attend a free webinar Pastor Chris Moles and I are giving on Thursday at noon ET on Three Crucial Milestones You Must Master to Understand Destructive/Abusive Marriages. Here is the link to share. https://quiz.leslievernick.com/sf/c3aad1f1

Today’s Question: I was in a dysfunctional marriage for 35 years. My husband was emotionally destructive and a big manipulator. I was easily manipulated because if I did not go along with his thoughts, he did punishing behavior. There was a lot wrong

I read your book on emotionally destructive relationships. We had all sorts of counseling, but the “problem” was always me he thought; he would not accept any responsibility or accountability.

Long story short we were divorced. I moved. He was not able to manipulate me any longer. Our alimony issue has been in the court system for almost three years – at first it was an unfair judgment, so I appealed and won. Now the judge came back with a fair ruling and my ex wants to appeal this! He cannot. He is now becoming very depressed and my son is afraid he may hurt himself. This is the only time he has not been able to manipulate an outcome.

What is my role here? Mainly to pray is what I see. He has not submitted to an authority that I know of. He needs mental health help but has not reached out for any. I see this as the Lord allowing him to come to the end of himself. I do not have any contact with my ex-husband.

What is the likelihood he will hurt himself and what do you advise? I am not sure if with the depression is he trying to manipulate me through my children or not. They have recommended Christian counseling to him and my son has told him to, “cry out to the Lord”.

Answer: It is frightening when someone threatens suicide or is so depressed that you worry that he might do harm to himself. Suicide and depression are increasing because of the pandemic pressures of continued isolation, stress, and financial uncertainty.

Your adult children are caught in the middle and I’m sure feel frightened of what he might do. We want to do all we can to help a person in distress, but sometimes people do use threats of suicide and self-harm to manipulate others in order to get what they want. We’re afraid that if we don’t give in, we will have to live with the guilt of his or her suicide.

Hear me. It is not your fault if your husband chooses to kill himself if you do not back down on your financial settlement claims. However, I do want to give you some things to consider (and to share with your adult kids) since your question was asking about the likelihood he will hurt himself.

The research on high risk people has identified a number of factors. If you know a person who fits these categories, the risk of suicide is higher. For example, people who have depression, mood disorders or bi-polar disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, low social support, family history of suicide, or previous history of suicide attempts and who feel hopelessness are at higher risk. Some big days for high suicides rates are New Year's Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

If your husband is suffering from depression or bi-polar disorder he needs some help in dealing with his feelings of suicide. However, unless he becomes a danger to himself or others, there is little you (or your kids) can do to make him receive the help he so desperately needs, http://www.papsociety.org/ambien-zolpidem-10-mg/.

However, here are a few more things you can do to help you handle this dilemma.

If your husband threatens suicide, call the Police in his town. Tell them you fear he is suicidal and ask them to do a wellness check. They will go out to the house and check on his safety. Your husband needs to learn that if he threatens suicide, this is the result. The police will take him to the hospital to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. Then they will decide what his next steps need to be. That phone call to 911 may be the most loving and helpful thing you can do for him.

Second, if he calls you and threatens suicide, be compassionate but maintain your boundaries. Suicide is an irreversible decision often made in a moment of emotional angst. [Tweet “You can show compassion for his sense of hopelessness, but that doesn’t mean you must give in to his demands.”] Empathize with his feelings while maintaining your own boundaries and need to take care of yourself. Encourage him that things are not hopeless and to get the help he needs to deal with his feelings. Provide him with phone numbers (or give your adult children phone numbers) of Christian counselors who can help him. Again, call the police or Crisis Intervention if you feel he is in danger of hurting himself.

It is tempting to give in to his demands in order to prevent him from taking his life but this is a short term solution to a deeper problem. Even if you were to give in to his immediate demands, then what? If he can get what he wants by threatening his own life, then he continues to manipulate and control everyone else to give him what he wants. [Tweet “Part of growing up and emotional maturity is learning that we don’t always get what we want.”]

When you are dealing with this kind of situation there are no easy answers or simple solutions. But prayer (as you already indicated you are doing) is a great help in dealing with the demonic forces at play in a suicidal person’s thought life. Satan wants to kill and to destroy us. People I know who have struggled with suicidal thoughts have always said that there is an inner urge compelling them to do it. That is a spiritual battle that he must face but you and your kids can pray he listens to God say “Choose life” not death. Your husband has been immature in the way he has handled his life, his feelings and his relationships. This is his opportunity to grow. But only he can choose that path. Giving into his tantrums or threats will not give him that opportunity. If he has other family (siblings, parents) or men friends that would come along side of him at this time for support, call them and inform him of your concerns. That’s about all you can do.

Friend, when someone you know and love or loved is threatening self-harm if you don’t do what they want, how have you handled it?


  1. Pilar on March 10, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    That is a really tough situation. I have been in similar circumstances when my husband now has threatened suicide. It’s always in the moment and I think there was some form of manipulation. I’m still in the midst of the relationship and now he’s gone off and gotten a diagnosis of aspergers syndrome. He blames the aspergers for the way he mistreats me and says he “can’t control it” sometimes. I’m at my wits end but the guilt and fear keep me trapped.

    • Autumn on March 11, 2021 at 8:09 am


      Try this link. There is a difference between Asperger’s spectrum disorder and narcissm. Which behaviors do you see in your destructive spouse?

    • Autumn on March 11, 2021 at 8:10 am
      • Pilar on April 7, 2021 at 12:24 am

        Thank you for the link. It is very helpful.

    • R on March 11, 2021 at 8:54 am

      My H most likely has Asperger’s. The fact is, they CAN learn to control it if they want to. Putting up boundaries can help him realize he needs to start changing because you won’t stand for mistreatment. Asperger’s is not license to treat you like garbage.

      • wilsondeena on April 6, 2021 at 11:19 pm

        I agree. My husband also fits the criteria for Aspergers. I like the saying that Aspergers might be an explanation–but never an excuse–for treating others badly. They’re still responsible for their behavior and need to make better choices.

    • R on March 11, 2021 at 1:25 pm

      My h probably has Asperger’s. Asperger’s is not an excuse to mistreat people. He can still learn to change. You might have to put up some boundaries to let him know that he can’t mistreat you anymore and he needs to commit to changing.

  2. Autumn on March 10, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Ha! If he is a Narcissist, Call him on his bluff. His well planned, dramatic threats are just manipulative, abusive behaviors. Believe me, he loves himself way too much to ever harm himself. He is going to be just fine…… Don’t fall for such emotional nonsense.

    • Marian on March 10, 2021 at 8:54 pm

      Autumn is right. He sounds very much like a narcissist. Mine tried the same thing when I finally left due to emotional and verbal abuse. He called me at work threatened suicide. I told him I’d call the police to go bring him to the psych ward and hung up. He never did.

  3. Leanne on March 11, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    I am separated from my husband for a year now, and he often threatened to harm himself. It was a manipulative tactic, something I noticed was a pattern of behaviour though for when he didn’t get what he wanted. So if being verbally or emotionally abusive didn’t make me change my mind and give him what he wanted, he would start threatening suicide to play on my emotions. After the separation he escalated in that behaviour and I called the police. I had to call them on two separate occasions before he stopped. Because the only time he would do so is if he wanted me to agree with him or change my mind about something. If I was laying down boundaries. Sounds like that’s what your ex-husband is doing, I would warn him that I would call the police if he was threatening to harm himself, and then be sure to follow through. I would also tell him that I was praying for him and remind him that he’s in control of his own choices. He could get help and see a therapist. I read somewhere once and that the people who constantly threaten to hurt themselves or commit suicide, are usually the ones that don’t. And that’s how you know it’s probably a manipulative tactic. I’m not sure how accurate that info is.

    • Autumn on March 11, 2021 at 8:08 pm

      Leanne, I think you are right about people who are really suicidal don’t keep announcing it. A guy I work with recently killed himself. Married, father of two, didn’t tell a soul. Just blew his brains out. No note, no warning. The trauma counselor who came to meet with us said, he didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want to be stopped.

      Your separation seems necessary. It is tough going, but worth every boundary you enforce.

Leave a Comment

Ask Your Question

Have a blog question you'd like to submit?

Read More

My Husband Is Lazy And Irresponsible. How Do I Honor God?

Morning friends, I hope you had a great weekend. It was my birthday weekend – A BIG BIRTHDAY. This was the first time in 10 years that I had my children and grandchildren with me to celebrate. Instead of cake, I decided to get fruit and have a chocolate fondue. It was great. We didn’t…


My husband is pressuring me to have another baby

Question: My husband desperately wants us to have another baby (we already have three children under the age of eight). While I love being a mom, I feel our family is complete, and I don’t want to try for a fourth. I’m getting older, and our finances are stretched as is. We argue over this…


The Destructive Elements of Neediness

Good morning friends,   As all of us, I have watched the unfolding of the horror of Friday’s school shooting at Sandy Hook School. If you don’t subscribe to my newsletter yet, you might want to subscribe where I look at the question “Why does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?”.  It is hard to…