Dear Amy:

My stepdaughter committed suicide last week. We are all grieving and in shock. Why did a beautiful, smart and successful woman decide to leave us?

We are working hard to understand what happened and to console her fiance.

My dear husband, his ex-wife and children are in unbelievable pain.

Many cards and calls have come our way, and many cards have been addressed, and contained personal notes, only to my husband.

Please remind your readers that following a death, especially such a heart-wrenching situation, the entire family is grieving.

We all had a relationship with the deceased and were all a part of the same family. The stepparent, sister and brother are not only aching over the loss, but for the pain that other members of the family feel.

In the midst of planning for a funeral, it would be most kind and helpful to extend sympathies to all members of the family.

We need all the support we can get.

Barely Hanging in There

Let me add my sympathies to those of your friends and family.

You make a very good point -- that all members of a family should be acknowledged and included in expressions of sympathy, but it might help if you realized that, in general, people just do not know how to respond to a death, especially one as sudden and bewildering as a suicide.

I hope that you and your family are reaching out for support.

According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. The American Association of Suicidology, which studies suicide and suicide prevention, using NCHS data, estimates that in this country there is one suicide every 17 minutes and that every suicide deeply affects at least six other people (family and friends). Using that number, they conclude there are more than 4 million suicide survivors in the United States.

Please seek help and support for you and your grieving family right away.

The American Association of Suicidology has a helpful database of support groups listed by state. The organization also offers literature and fact sheets on its Web site:

Dear Amy:

I am 21 years old and the mother of a beautiful 14-month-old little girl.

I am a stay-at-home mom, and my fiance is the only one of us who is working outside the home.

He works six days a week.

The problem is that when he gets a day off, he stresses that it is his day off. Often he will leave home on his day off while my daughter and I stay at home.

My only time to myself is when our daughter is sleeping.

There have been times when he stays home and spends the day with her or takes her on outings, but I feel as though I am not able to have time to myself when he is home with her.

I would like to be able to do things by myself and to have some "me" time, but when I try he tells me that I am being rude to my family by not spending time with them.

How can I tell him that I need a little bit of time on my own without his criticizing me?


Being at home with a baby can be very lonely and stressful, and you will be a better mother (and partner) if you get a regular break from the demands of your family. Ideally, you and your fiance should have the opportunity to spend some time on your own each week. If he would like a few hours to himself on his day off, then he should get it. You should also be able to count on him to watch the baby while you take some alone time.

Do not let your fiance make you feel guilty about this.

You should work together to set up a schedule. You should also set up a standing date for the two of you to go out together every week or two to recharge your batteries.

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