Dear Thelma: I am a teenager with suicidal thoughts

  • Family
  • Sunday, 24 Mar 2019

This week, we share two letters from teenagers who are thinking of ending their lives.

Letter 1:

Actually, I have always been happy with my family but lately, I feel like I want to die.

My dad is very strict with me and my family doesn’t care about my feelings at all. When I tell my parents I want to drop Additional Mathematics, they tell me to just try it out. Now I feel very stressed about Add Maths and other subjects but my mum says that there is no stress.

Sometimes, I wish I could just do whatever I want like my other friends but this year is SPM year.

I started to have suicidal thoughts since last year because whenever I tell my teacher I don’t know how to do my work, she always looks at me like she is wondering what am I doing in her class.

I feel so upset. I feel like I want to kill myself because I always think that I am not suitable for this class. I hope you can give me some advice.

Sad Girl

Letter 2 :

My mother is borderline abusive. Not physical but it’s always verbal.

I tried running away from home last March but she cried and begged everyone to help her find me. Of course she found me, I’m just a kid. I have nowhere to go so I went to a friend’s house.

I just can’t take it anymore. My self-esteem is going down and everyday I want to kill myself but I can’t because I know I’ll fail and be a burden to my parents.

Running away from home never helped me. It didn’t help us bond or make her listen to how I feel. She still kept treating me like garbage.

I’m only 16 and this has been going on for years. I’ve been living in fear ever since that day when I was about eight or nine. My mum got mad all of a sudden and threatened to kill herself or kill me with a butcher knife.

Out of fear, I cried and ran upstairs and locked myself in my sister’s room. I was home alone and I was so scared. I called my dad (who was out) and told him about how my mum wanted to kill me. All I remembered was him coming home and the next day, everything was back to normal.

That didn’t stop her from constantly calling me names – “stupid, useless, rude, fat” and so many other words. She has nails for teeth. Her words are so painful. Whenever I get my exam results, she compares me with other children and calls me stupid and says that I don’t study.

I admit that I raise my voice whenever she is angry at me. Nobody cares. No one is there to defend me. I have to fight for myself. She doesn’t know how I feel yet she acts like she knows me. She doesn’t know me at all. She doesn’t realise how badly she has been treating me.

I have two more years until school ends. I want to run away from home again. I can’t stand being near her. I know she will hurt me again.

I tried telling my dad how my mum threatened to sew my mouth when I was 12 but he didn’t care at all. He’s not a good father at all. He is cheating on my mother and I think I know why. I would like to believe that his mistress is kinder.

I know I should not think that way but why would my father be crazy about that woman? Is there something about her that my mum lacks? Is she a better person? All my questions have no answers.

Please help me. I don’t want to live anymore. I really am suicidal and miserable with how things are. I need someone to talk me out of my suicidal tendencies. I don’t think I can control myself.


Both of you are having suicidal thoughts, which is a medical emergency. Please call emergency services now and arrange to get proper help (see contact list below).

Sad Girl, you are overstressed. As your parents and teachers are ignoring this, you have developed strong feelings of helplessness. You need to be assessed for depression, and to have someone help you manage that. Also, you have some communication issues with your parents that need addressing.

V, your mum isn’t borderline abusive; she is abusive. It is not your job to figure out why, or to try and help your parents’ marriage. You’re a kid, and they should be looking after you. Your father should be stepping up to protect you or remove you from that awful environment. As he is not doing his job, but instead running off and looking after himself, you need the intervention of a proper adult.

In fact, both of you need a champion, a person who will speak for you to your parents. This may be an aunt, grandfather, teacher, or a friend of the family. It might also be a qualified mental health practitioner. (Tip: look for a person who has at least a Masters degree in psychology or counselling).

V, you might also work with a social worker. The information below will help you find one. Once you talk to a pro, you’ll get help in making effective change. They will assess you both and make a list of things that need to be done to get you on the right path.

I know it’s a scary thought to reach out. However, do know that these issues are much more common than you might think. You’re not alone, and you can get help.

Most importantly, you can start helping yourself immediately by getting your support network in place. Apart from getting an adult on your side, make a list of your friends, people you can talk to. Spend time with supportive, cheerful people. It will help keep you grounded.

Above all, do keep your hope up. This is a dark time for you both, but you will get through it. And soon you will be adults, able to take charge of your own lives. There is lots of happiness waiting for you – promise.

But right now, get that help you need. Here are some sources:

1. Befrienders - a non-profit organisation that provides emotional support 24/7. Tel: 03-7956 8145 or see the full list of contact details here.

2. Malaysian Mental Health Association - visit the MMHA directory of counselling services.

Note to adults:

Children who are overworked and then ignored or scolded when they are less than perfect become nervous and ashamed. It’s damaging and can lead to depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, self-harm and other issues.

Do listen to their concerns and address them properly. You might remind them that scoring As in class has no relation to whether we lead happy or satisfying lives. To motivate without stressing, focus on praising effort, not results.

If you see an adult abusing a child verbally, physically or both, consider that children’s health and wellbeing require a nurturing environment. If this is not the case, report it to Childline Malaysia. Tel: 15999 (24 hours).

Is something bothering you? Do you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on? Thelma is here to help. E-mail or write to Dear Thelma, c/o StarLifestyle, Menara Star, 15, Jalan 16/11, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Please include your full name and address, and a pseudonym. No private correspondence will be entertained. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.

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