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When Your Abuser Threatens Suicide: The Ultimate Guide

Mental Health and Abuse
Learn how to handle situations when your abuser threatens suicide. Prioritize safety, understand manipulation tactics, and get the help you need.

First, let me say that not everyone with a mental health diagnosis is abusive, nor does every abuser have a mental health diagnosis or disorder. But I want to break down and discuss why someone having a mental health disorder, be it PTSD, depression, or a personality disorder, doesn’t excuse abuse and what you should do when your abuser threatens suicide.

Abuse Can Take Many Forms, including Coercion and Threats, when an abuser threatens suicide.

Understanding the Dynamics

Recognize You Didn’t Cause Their Mental Health Disorder

You are not responsible for their mental health; they are. They are the only ones who can control their ability to seek help or work to change. This kind of work and change takes time, self-awareness, and self-control. When an abuser threatens suicide, it is often a manipulation tactic rather than a genuine cry for help.

Your Safety Comes First

Married or not, you don’t have to “stick it out” with an abusive person, even if they have a mental health disorder. If you are in a dangerous or toxic relationship, staying will not make it better any time soon—they need long-term professional help. If you have the means to make a safe exit, you should do so. An abusive partner with a mental health disorder may be in less control of their mindset and ability to stop themselves from harming you, especially if substance abuse or alcoholism is involved.

What to Do When Your Abuser Threatens Suicide

Do Not Succumb to Manipulation

Do not allow an abuser to control you into staying with a suicidal threat. It is not your responsibility to stay to save them from themselves. The best thing you can do for someone who threatens suicide is to contact the authorities to intervene. If you are receiving suicidal threats remotely via text or phone and are not in the same location as them, request a welfare check via 911 to their residence.

Plan a Safe Exit

If you fear for your life, you need to make a safe and planned exit. Do not ever allow an abuser to make you hand them a weapon; this puts your prints on the weapon and makes it easy for them to set up a frame job for your own murder-suicide. Attempt to remain calm, diffuse the situation, and offer to call someone for help. If you can get away, do so. This advice comes from the personal experience of one of our advocates.

Calling Their Bluff: When an Abuser Threatens Suicide to Manipulate

Abuser threatens suicide: threatening to commit suicide is a form of coercion and abuse.

When an abuser threatens suicide, it’s often a manipulation tactic. They may threaten suicide when you don’t do what they want or when you try to leave them. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. By calling their bluff, you achieve one of two outcomes:

  1. They Will Get the Help They Need: If the threat is genuine, involving authorities or emergency services ensures they receive professional help. This is the best outcome for their well-being and safety.
  2. They’ll Realize Their Manipulation Didn’t Work: If the threat is a tactic to manipulate you into fawning over them, giving into them, or staying when you want to leave, they will see that it doesn’t produce the desired result. By contacting authorities, you show that you take all threats seriously and won’t be controlled by their manipulative behavior.

Your Role and Responsibility if an Abuser Threatens Suicide

Understand Your Limitations

Remember, you are not responsible for their mental health or abusive behavior. While they might not feel in control of their own actions, you are definitely not in control of their actions. When an abuser threatens suicide, it is often a bluff to make you stay or come back to them, as this is a common hoovering tactic. Since all suicidal threats should be taken seriously, getting or sending actual help should be the response. There is no reason for you to return to them: you are not a mental health professional equipped to manage their suicidal threat. If they are prepared to follow through, they may also be ready to take you with them.

Call for Professional Help

When anyone’s life is on the line, do what you can to get professional, emergency help. You wouldn’t run to your neighbor’s house to put out a fully engulfed fire; you’d call the fire department. When your loved one or abuser’s mental health is spiraling out of control, call for help.


Dealing with an abuser who threatens suicide is incredibly challenging and emotionally draining. It’s crucial to prioritize your safety and understand that you are not responsible for their actions or mental health. Contacting authorities and planning a safe exit are vital steps in protecting yourself. Remember, you deserve to live in a safe and healthy environment, free from manipulation and fear. Calling their bluff by involving authorities either helps them get the necessary support or demonstrates that their manipulation tactics won’t control you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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