Searching for a Reason to Live

Dr. Phil instructs the participants to choose a buddy, someone they can rely on throughout the retreat. Dr. Phil believes there are no accidents, and is not surprised when Kelly, whose father committed suicide, pairs up with Kathleen, who often thinks of taking her own life.

The guests are sent on a break, where Kelly tells Kathleen, "I do know why I'm here. I'm solely here because I'm going to save you. I will do everything."

"I don't want to be saved though," Kathleen says.

"You have to Kathleen. You have to. Yes, you came to be saved. I'm going to help you," Kelly says.

Kathleen puts her notebook up to her face to hide.

"You have made some mistakes, and you've made some bad choices, but you know what? After this weekend, it's going to be about you, and you can do this," Kelly tells her.

"I don't want my grandkids to grow up and say ‘Why is Grandma doing this? Why is Gigi doing this? Why does Gigi cry all the time? Why is Gigi scared all the time? Why is Gigi alone?' Because I hear Madison saying, ‘Gigi, why don't we have a Papa?' You know, because I can't stay married. I don't want to be a disappointment to my kids anymore," Kathleen says.

"Oh, my God, you are so not a disappointment," Kelly says.

After the break, Dr. Phil addresses his concern with Kathleen and her suicidal thoughts.

"Did you tell your buddy that you don't want to live?" Dr. Phil asks.

Kathleen nods.

"Are you going to kill yourself?"

"I think about it a lot," she says.

"Did you tell your buddy, ‘It would hurt my kids for a little while, but they would get over it'?" Dr. Phil asks.

"They will," she says.

"Do you think it's a selfish thing to do?"

"I hear people say that, but I don't think it is," Kathleen says.

Diona is in disbelief. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to have children. It breaks my heart that you would possibly leave your children by choice," she says.

Dr. Phil tells Kathleen, "Your depression causes you to underestimate your importance to other people." He turns to Kelly. "You're her buddy. Have you made her understand?"

Kelly tells her, "It doesn't matter how old your kids are. They are still your kids. And you've got grandkids. My kids don't have a Pop-Pop there to watch them."

"You never stop parenting," Dr. Phil says. "They move out, and you just change phases. You're not parenting in a different way. You continue to be a resource. You continue to be a guide. There's no window you go to to check out."

Nicole stands and shares, "A few years ago, when things began to get really bad with my family, I was in the family room, and I heard a sickeningly loud thud from upstairs. And I ran upstairs, and my mom was on the floor, and I called 911, and she started seizing, and it was the scariest moment in my life." She cries, "When I saw her laying on the floor, and she started spasming, I was terrified. A million things rushed through my head, like, what I could possibly do without her? And they were able to save her, but it still haunts me."

  • Ron stands up and tells Kathleen, "I'm almost 40 years old, and I had to stand and watch my mother die with her in my hands. That is the hardest thing. There's not a day that goes by that I don't pray at night and see her face in the morning. She was my best friend in the whole world. So you'll be a mother if they're 80 years old, and you're still living, you'll still be a mother. Always." 

Kelly tells Dr. Phil, "What concerns me with Kathleen is you get no response from her when we talked about that, and it scares me."

"Why did you come here? Why did you want to be here?" Dr. Phil asks Kathleen.

"Because I don't want to kill myself," she says. "I want to learn how to, I guess, step away from that wall and live."

"You want a reason to get up tomorrow. You want a reason to come out from behind that wall, but I can't drag you," Dr. Phil tells her. "You've got to plug in with your buddy here. Because what she's saying is she just gets nothing from you."

"I tried to explain to her why I feel the way I do," Kathleen says.

"But see, the fact that you don't see the flawed logic in that tells me that you're not thinking right," he says. "Because when you say your kids, ‘Ah, they'll get over it,' let me tell you, you've got a 22-year-old son? He will not get over it. You've got daughters, right?"

"I've got three daughters," she says.

"You've got two women right here telling you that they've been through what you're talking about, and they're telling you it was the worst thing [they've] ever dealt with. Do they look over it?" Dr. Phil asks. He turns to Kelly. "It was incredibly selfish for your father to do that to you. It was selfish. He was being a taker when he did that. He was taking away from you. He was taking away from your innocence. He was taking away from your joy. He was taking away from your family."

Kelly nods.

Dr. Phil turns back to Kathleen. "Listen to me, if you want to live " and I don't mean just suffer until you die " but I mean really, really live, there is nothing that I won't, and we won't do to help you. I will help you with anything you want me to help you with. If you just decided you're going to die, I'm going to call 911 and have them pick you up and take you. I have no choice. If you agree with me that you won't take your own life, would you keep that agreement?"

"As long as you don't have me committed," she says.

"Are you going to tell me that just to get me to shut up, or are you really going to do it?" he asks.

"I'll do it," she says softly.

"Don't tell me what I want to hear. Seriously, this is important stuff. If you need to be protected from yourself, tell me, and I will make those arrangements for you. We'll fly you out of here, and I will put you in the care you need. So you've got to know I'm serious," Dr. Phil tells her.

"I don't want any of that," Kathleen says.

"Do you want to live?"

"I want a reason to live," she says.

"OK. Will you agree with me that you will not hurt yourself in any way until you've given me, or my designate in your town, a chance to sit down and discuss it with you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I said yes as long as you don't commit me," she says.

Dr. Phil and Kathleen shake hands.

Dr. Phil wants his viewers to know that he does not take Kathleen's suicidal thoughts lightly. He has resources lined up to help her.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK(8255).