My Girlfriend or Boyfriend Has Depression and Threatens Suicide If I Leave

What do you do if your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression and threatens to harm themselves if you leave? Let’s explore this complex issue.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression, you may worry about saying or doing something to add to their pain. You may also fear that you are the reason they are depressed, especially If you’ve told them you want to end the relationship. Mental illness doesn’t work like this, however; and there is rarely one situation or individual to blame when your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression. But what if you want to leave the relationship, but your partner threatens suicide? Here's what to do and where to find support.

My Boyfriend or Girlfriend Has Depression: How Can I Leave?

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression, you may be scared to leave the relationship for fear that your partner will harm themselves. Although there a many complex reasons why someone wants to take their own life, it’s surprisingly common for people to blame their relationship breakups for suicidal feelings. When suicide or suicidal thoughts occur, however, there is rarely (if ever) just one factor to blame.

According to recent studies, the main reason behind suicidal thoughts and actions is the presence of major depressive disorder. Other mental illnesses that play a role in suicide include psychosis, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse. It is also common for a person to feel suicidal when facing a sudden change or loss, including:

  • The end of a romantic relationship
  • Loss of a job or being unemployed
  • Financial worries
  • Loss of social position or place in a friendship group
  • Losing a living situation due to financial strains or the end of a relationship

It is easy to see why a loss (or a culmination of losses) might lead to a person feeling suicidal. So, what do you do when this occurs? Can you really just walk away?

Partner with Depression and Suicide Threats: What to Do

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression and threatens to harm themselves, it’s easy to think that staying in the relationship is the right thing to do, especially as you still care about them.

You must understand that your partner’s fault that they are depressed or suicidal. However, it is not your fault either. Threatening suicide to get you to stay in the relationship is a form of emotional abuse: your partner is trying to manipulate you into staying. This may seem like a no-win situation, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your partner.  

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are three steps you must take if your boyfriend or girlfriend has depression and threatens suicide:

  1. Tell them you care, but state your boundaries

    You're not helping anyone by giving into threats and staying in the relationship. You will feel angry and resentful, and your partner deserves to be with someone who stays out of love – not out of obligation. Tell your partner that you care about them and that you understand they're upset, but you have told them what you want, and you must stick to it.
  2. Pass the responsibility back to your partner

    While you can do everything in your power to show them you care and get them the appropriate support, it's not up to you to determine your partner's actions. A relationship should be built on love and trust, not threats. Don't shame or blame your partner; just calmly pass the baton of responsibility back to them.
  3. Know that you don’t have to prove anything

    Your partner may try to manipulate you by saying something like, “If you really cared, you would stop me from killing myself," or “If you were a good person, you would stay.” No matter what your partner says, the kindest and most compassionate thing you can do is to show you care but state your feelings honestly and avoid engaging in conflict. You don’t have to prove anything, and, chances are, it wouldn’t change anything if you did.

    If your partner with depression threatens suicide, don't ignore them or think they're bluffing. They might be, but it's always better to err on the side of caution. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or contact your local emergency services.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2022, January 4). My Girlfriend or Boyfriend Has Depression and Threatens Suicide If I Leave, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 20 from

Last Updated: January 10, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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