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What to Do When He Says He’ll Kill Himself If You Leave

Does your boyfriend threaten suicide if you break up with him? Here’s how to respond to his threats to kill himself, including advice from a woman whose husband took his own life. It’s important to remember that you can’t get all the help you need here. You need to reach out to people in person, people who are experienced in talking to men who want to take their own lives.

why does he do thatRead Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft, to understand what’s happening with your boyfriend emotionally and mentally. You need to learn how to see when a man is manipulating you, and how to take care of yourself. It’s scary and serious when your boyfriend threatens suicide if you leave him, and it’s important to try to gain insight and understanding into his behavior and feelings.

It’s also crucial to remember that you can’t heal him, fix his behavior, or change how he responds to this world. You can’t save your boyfriend from his thoughts or feelings, nor can you stay in a relationship with an unhealthy man who is trying to control you by threatening to kill himself. Calling a helpline is the best way to cope when your boyfriend says he’s thinking about killing himself. You need to talk to someone in person, to explain his words and behavior, and to get help for your specific situation. Here, you’ll find general tips to help you respond to a suicidal boyfriend – but the most important thing is getting help in person.


Here’s what a reader says about her partner, who is threatening to kill himself:

“My husband and I have been married for five years,” says Kyla on How to Leave Your Husband When You Have No Money. “The first three years, we stayed with his mother because we were both unemployed. I found a job and could afford to rent our own place, but my husband refused to find a job. I take care of everything: rent, our two little girls, groceries and gas. When I ask him to find a job, he refuses. Late last year he started to abuse me mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. When I told him I was going to divorce him he tried to commit suicide and now his family hates me for that. I even cheated on him just to show him I no longer want to be with him but he does not want to let go. I need your advice.”

Are you financially independent and self-supporting? That’s really good. Many women aren’t that lucky – they’re trapped because they’re financially dependent on their husbands. So, you’re ahead of the game (though I know it doesn’t feel like it).

The first thing to do if your boyfriend is trying to manipulate you by threatening to kill himself is to recognize that he is unhealthy, manipulative, and controlling. Your boyfriend may not be trying to control you on purpose, but he’s definitely not healthy. I don’t know if he’s trying to manipulate you – and that’s why it’s important to talk to someone in person about your relationship.

When Your Boyfriend Says He’ll Kill Himself If You Leave

“If the person in your life…really wants to die, you need assistance beyond what I can provide in this blog,” says Randi Kreger, co-author of Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder. “Please seek immediate professional help. You may also wish to call a local crisis line or hospital emergency department and ask for guidance. Then, keep the phone numbers of these people and places right by the phone. Take threats seriously. Tell your boyfriend you will call for help. Then, do it.”

Call a support hotline or visit a suicide help website

The first thing you need to do is get as much support and information as possible. The internet offers a variety of online support, such as The Support Network – so you don’t even have to make a call! Do an internet search for women’s help lines, or distress websites for women.

Though there is a lot of help online, I strongly encourage you to seek in person help. You’re in a vulnerable position: your husband is abusive, unstable, and unpredictable. You need to get help in person.

Here’s what a reader said — her husband committed suicide, and she regrets how she responded to his threats when he was alive:

If your boyfriend is threatening to kill himself, DO NOT keep it a secret. TELL people whom both you and your partner trust and who might be able to intermediate. This is something that is too big for you and him to handle alone. And DON’T WAIT, tell someone RIGHT NOW – every second counts. As soon as that person is gone they are NEVER coming back. Telling others might not save the person, but at the least you will feel less personally responsible if he does ultimately take his life.”

Also, learn how abusive relationships work – and why it’s so hard to leave a bad marriage. Read How to Get Away From an Abusive Husband.


Remember that you are not responsible for your boyfriend’s choices

This is difficult and complicated – and it requires so much strength! But when your boyfriend threatens suicide if you leave, you have to keep telling yourself that you cannot control what he does. You need to stay focused on what is right for you and your life, and you need to listen to what people tell you.

Your boyfriend is telling you things that may or may not be true – I don’t know. When you call for in-person help, you’ll talk about how to see what’s really going on. You’ll learn how to protect your behavior and self-concept from distortions and lies.

Decide what to say to your boyfriend if you decide to break up

What to Do When Your Boyfriend Says He’ll Kill Himself If You LeaveThis is from Choosing to Live: How to Defeat Suicide Through Cognitive Therapy by Thomas Ellis and Cory Newman:

”I’m not breaking up with you to be cruel. I’m very, very sorry that this hurts you. I want what’s best for you in the future, but I just can’t be part of it. And even if I were to stay with you, that wouldn’t solve our problems.

For one thing, your life’s worth should be based on much more than just being in a relationship with me. Secondly, I know that you know deep inside that our relationship shouldn’t be based on me staying because I’m afraid of you dying and you staying because you think you can’t live without me. That’s not healthy. I care about you. And because I care about you, I want you to live. And I want you to find your own happiness, and your own life’s worth, without me.”

Print this out, write it down, and keep reading it to yourself. You may have to say it over and over, to both yourself and him. Maybe you could even write it in a letter to him – but it’s important to talk to him in person if you decide to end the relationship. For help, read How to Gently Break Up With Someone You Don’t Love Anymore.

Remember that staying with an abusive or emotionally unhealthy boyfriend isn’t just putting your physical and emotional health at risk. It’s endangering your future, and your other relationships.

Helping Your Boyfriend by Helping Yourself

Boyfriend Says He’ll Kill Himself If You LeaveIn Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? Encouragement for Women Involved with Angry and Controlling Men Lundy Bancroft offers a collection of meditations to help women respond to men who aren’t healthy. This book is a source of strength and reassurance designed to speak to women like you, women in relationships with angry and controlling men.

This book will help you learn how to value and respect yourself — even when your partner makes it very clear that he does not. You’ll see the truth of what is happening to you, and how to cope with your boyfriend’s threats. You may feel overwhelmed by confusion, loss, and fear, and find yourself looking away from the truth and falling back into traumatic patterns.

How do you feel, what do you think? Are you in a relationship with a boyfriend who is threatening to kill himself? I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t give advice, but you may find that writing is a good way to start making sense of what’s happening…and how to respond to your boyfriend.

May you find hope and healing, and may you reach out for the support you need. Ask for help, and talk to as many people as you can – in person! Don’t struggle through this alone.


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38 thoughts on “What to Do When He Says He’ll Kill Himself If You Leave”

  1. I’m in this situation currently… I broke up with my ex because he had cheated on me, physically i thought. But it turns out he had not had sex with her but instead was messaging her, most likely hinting at a hookup and other sexual things. He did this because he thought that I would leave him after a fight. I have agreed to hear him out but I don’t deserve to be with someone who cheats when things get tough, even if it’s not physical cheating. So I will most likely be 100% calling things off tonight and I’m scared that he will bring up suicide as he says that he only has a life with me, that I was the one thing that always held him together. If he really cherished me as much as he says tho, he never would have cheated. So it’s time for me to leave I believe. This thread has helped. I’m glad that I’m not alone.

  2. I feel sorry for you Nancy, I experienced the same thing when this so called bestfriend came back to my life after 10 years I have a bf and he is single ,at first he demanded for my attention ,he’s so manipulative that I find myself following his every whim,and eventually threatened me to hang himself when he gets frustrated at me ,also blaming me for everything .I really want to cut ties with him but I don’t know how,I’m scared and guilty that he might really took his own life ,this drama lasted for 9 months until my bf find out whats happening in me btw he’s a MD ,he advice me to take a break from social media ,change my cp number cut all my contacts to this man ,and don’t give him any explanation and that’s what I do, now I’m in the process of recovering from emotional turmoil and about that man i have no news about him but I believe he’s still alive …

  3. If your boyfriend says he’ll kill or hurt himself if you leave him, get in-person support as soon as possible. Your boyfriend isn’t healthy, and needs help coping with his feelings and thoughts – and so do you! Don’t isolate yourself in this relationship, and don’t let him manipulate or guilt you into making decisions that aren’t good for either of you.

    Stop, take a deep breath, and listen to your intuition. Who can you turn to? It won’t be easy, but find someone you can talk to in person or call. Tell her the truth about your relationship, and ask for guidance.

    How are you doing today? Have you made any decisions, or taken any steps forward?

  4. My partner of 7 years has thretened to kill himself everytime i say i cant cope with his controling and abusive behaviour. The most recent was last week when he left a suicide note with his poorly elderly nan. The police called me but i couldnt help them find him because i do not know area he is living in temporarily He has smashed my things, t.v twice, punched holes in walls, smashed my phone, my house windows, slicing his wrist in the process. He has even gone as far as threatening to kill my beloved 5 cats and screaming at my dog because i was trying to stop her shaking. He says he cant live without me. I have finally found the courage to end things but i know he wont leave me alone, ever. I feel so trapped. I know i want to continue my life free of him, and i have a 9 year old daughter who unfortunately has seen things i know she cant erase from her mind. I have always taken him back because i dont want to live with the guilt if he does kill himself, but this time i did not answer his suicide texts or calls. I have one question, how do i start to love myself ?

  5. I’m 16 and I’m preparing for med school entrance and for this reason I don’t want to date anyone. But a guy (whom I found online) who was my best friend is now forcing me to get in a relationship with him. I told him many times that I cannot be in a relationship because it completely ruins my focus but he still didn’t understand. Even if I’m not his girlfriend he still wants me to call him everyday and talk to him for at least 2 hours and then also text him all day. He seems a lot obsessed with me. And today when I was trying to make him understand that he’s being too clingy and I really need some alone time for myself (as I’m an introvert) and for my studies, he said slowly that he’ll cut his wrist if I’ll ever leave him. I really don’t know what to do as my entrance exam is coming near and also I don’t want him to die. This is really making me feel scared. I really need to focus on my studies because I want to be able to live freely because my childhood was also scary because my parents always kept fighting and that’s why I don’t want to miss this opportunity to change my future. I tried to make him understand all this but he still wants the same. Please please help me as I have no one to take advice from.

  6. Brook, it’s important to get help from someone in person – especially if your boyfriend is saying he’ll kill himself if you leave. There are alot of specific details that are important parts to helping someone who is threatening suicide, and those get missed in online articles like this.

    Who can you talk to? Is there anyone you trust, who can help you decide how to respond to your boyfriend?

  7. So, I’ve only been with my boyfriend for 9 months now. At one point I felt he didn’t really want to be with me and he treated me like crap around his friends and wouldn’t let anyone know about me, I was feeling frustrated and confused because I didn’t know why for months he wanted to keep me a secret. Keep in mind I’m only 16. Every night we would fight about one thing or another and I was sick of feeling like crap eventually I broke it off because I didn’t want to anymore. A few months later we ended up getting back together, him claiming things would be different and he definitely tried to step up his game. A month into this new relationship between us he said if I ever broke up with him again he would probably end up killing himself. I was shocked but I didn’t think to much of this remark at first because I was happy and didn’t imagine leaving, because this time because he had changed. Well eventually things did change he started to become controlling only in a sense of what I look like, and had started being a little bit verbally abusive. We had been fighting which I knew was normal for couples but I realized I’m just generally not happy, and now I’m feeling stuck because I have no idea how to deal with this…

  8. I am in basically the exact same situation you are in now. Did he ever straighten out? Were you able to successfully break away without your boyfriend harming himself?

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