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Talking Dice

Question:

Well doctor, I have a friend (and I am not implying it is me) who is 12 years old. She has some problems with insecurity, she argues with her mom from time to time, and has the usual problems with kids at school. She lives at home with her mom and is an only child. Well, she is a very emotional person, but here is the thing….She talks to the #6 on her dice. I am not joking either. She shares all of her feelings with it. She pulled it out in front of my brother and I and started talking to it. She told it about her suicide attempts, how sad she is and how people don’t accept her. I tried to talk to her and she acts as though nothing is wrong with thinking about suicide, or talking to her dice. She said her dice talks back to her. I think she is nuts. How can I help?

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Answer:

There are a couple of issues in your question. Let’s take them one at a time.

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p>Regarding your friend’s habit of talking to dice – this, as you’ve noticed, is not a normal way to act. Talking to dice is not something most people do, and having the dice talk back to you is even more not a normal experience. There are a couple possibilities that may be going on. First, your friend may be experiencing hallucinations (hearing a voice when it isn’t there for others to hear). Auditory hallucinations are associated with several different illnesses including schizophrenia (and related disorders), very severe depressions, substance abuse and sometimes also dissociative disorders. In my experience, it is less common for someone to hear an inanimate object talking to them – more frequently, hallucinating people hear disembodied voices criticizing them or giving them commands. But just because I’ve not seen it before doesn’t mean it isn’t happening that way for your friend. Another possibility is that your friend doesn’t know how to talk about what is bothering her in a direct manner and has made up the story about the talking dice as an indirect way of asking for help (it is sure to attract attention). It is not possible to know which of the above (or some other possibility I’ve not considered here) is the right answer without getting your friend to see a mental health doctor (a Psychiatrist preferably) who can diagnose and/or treat if needed.

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p>Regarding your friend’s suicidal talk – this is very serious talk and should be taken seriously even apart from the odd ‘talking dice’ way that she is communicating it to you. Suicidal talk often indicates a depressive process is going on, and may also suggest that there are troubling issues that your friend is dealing with (for instance, abuse of some sort). Not all persons who have suicidal ideas go on to harm themselves. However, all suicidal talk should be taken seriously, as though the person is acutely suicidal (ready to kill themselves tonight).

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p>Between the talking dice and the suicidal ideas that your friend has expressed, it seems to me that she is in need of immediate evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. Please share this to your friend in a compassionate way, and also to those adults around her who might be in a position to help her out.

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