Dear Amy: My 76-year-old friend is afraid of suffering from a devastating disease. At this point in his life, he seems pretty healthy.
We live in different states, and we converse via Zoom.
His wife died 10 years ago, so he lives alone and has very few friends. He is an angry, complicated man who smokes pot every day and vents his negativity on Instagram.
He and his wife were going through a divorce because of his negativity and pot use when she died suddenly in a car accident. His grief was brief.
Recently, he told me that he purchased two lethal pills of fentanyl in case he gets dementia or another painful illness. He has sworn me to secrecy.
He is very matter-of-fact about the whole situation, but I feel very odd about knowing that he left me with this information.
I told him that I felt uneasy about it and he laughed.
Because he is not actively suicidal, I cannot call authorities. I have considered calling his brother who lives near me, but I don’t want to start drama in his family.
If he killed himself, I know I would feel guilty.
Should I just let this go and do nothing? I did encourage him to seek therapy and that did not go over well.
Now I am angry.
What should I do or not do?
Dear Confused: If your friend is a daily pot user — and possibly using other substances — then you could assume that he is not always sober when communicating with you.
From the National Institutes of Health: “Compared to those who don’t use marijuana, those who frequently use large amounts report the following: lower life satisfaction, poorer mental health, poorer physical health, and more relationship problems.”
My overall point is that your friend is not necessarily an accurate reporter, even about his own life. Depending on the time of day when you speak with him, his level of impairment will affect his point of view, his level of paranoia, and the way he expresses himself.
He is talking hypothetically about something he might do, someday, if an imponderable thing happens, but he can’t hold you to a vow of secrecy if you believe his life is in immediate danger.
You are not responsible for any of his choices. Any of them.
The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached by dialing 988. Your friend should have this on hand.
Dear Amy: I recently found out my former best friend is engaged and pregnant.
“Tracy” and I grew up together and were best friends for 30 years. Tracy is a difficult friend. I even have journal entries from when I was 9 years old saying, “Tracy was mean to me today.”
She’s always been insecure, and has had a history of having too much wine and picking fights, reducing people to tears.
We often took space after these moments and then brushed it under the rug and rebounded.
I felt a responsibility to be her best friend, because she had so few, and couldn’t hold down a healthy relationship.
Two years ago, we stopped speaking after a fight in which I called her out on being flaky to me. This time, we never rebounded.
Tracy is a bully. She is toxic, unreliable and indiscreet. I decided that enough is enough, unless she wanted to take accountability for her actions.
In the meantime, she has secured a healthy relationship (I’m assuming) with a man I actually set her up with three years ago.
I’m very happy for her and I have missed her, but truly, I haven’t missed her drama.
My question is: Now that time has passed, should I try to reconnect with her, acknowledging these big events happening in her life?
Dear Former Friend: If you are able to contact Tracy to acknowledge these events without getting sucked into her drama, then, yes, it would be kind for you to do so.
Keep your note, text or call short, polite and happy, and keep in mind your desire and need for boundaries before you contact her.
Dear Readers: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has recently changed its name and made it easier for people to contact them.
The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is now a simple three-digit contact. Just dial 988 from any phone. (The previous number can still be used, indefinitely: That’s (800) 273-8255.)
The very helpful website address is now 988lifeline.org.
I urge parents and teachers to do their best to spread the word.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.