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Advice on how to help my brother who has a speech impediment and is depressed/suicidal

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Anonymous
Advice on how to help my brother who has a speech impediment and is depressed/suicidal

Hi everyone

I have a brother (he is in his mid-twenties) who suffered brain damage when he was born. The damage was to his cerebellum, which has resulted in his speech being slurred and his balance and fine motor movement being quite bad.

Today he has achieved a lot in his life. He has a BA in graphic design and a level 8 in Web Development. We live in Ireland.

However there is one significant problem - he is quite unhappy. He was bullied in high-school right after the death of our father (he went to a different high-school to myself and the other brother, we had no idea at the time) and has failed to make friends at university and to this day his only real friends are his family.

The problem is that he is very shy and afraid of social interaction. He (somewhat rightly) believes that people judge him to be mentally handicapped based on his speech impediment and so avoid social interaction with him. This has happened in shared accommodation and at university.

My brother is convinced that he must improve his voice, which will allow him to socialise and so his problem will be alleviated. I believe that his voice can be improved, but I'm not sure how significantly. I have tried to tell him that yes, he should try to improve his voice/speaking/pronunciation, but that he should also be trying to improve his social skills in general. He does not agree.

He is also carrying a great deal of anger over the reason he has a disability - the hospital were at fault when he was born. This resulted in court proceedings being issued and the hospital settled out of court. My mother is also not the best emotional support (but fantastic re: taking care of legal proceedings etc) for this sort of thing and that is another source of contention for him.

We are three brothers and we are all very close. I love my brother to bits. He is a normal man who is trapped by his disability (speech impediment) in a way that he has not come to terms with yet. He has at times mentioned suicide.

My question is this: How can I help him? I wan't him to be independent, to be able to source help on his own and to overcome his disability in order to get out into the world and socialise. He can do all these things, but he has extreme negative thought patterns which are are debilitating.

Are there councillors out there for people with disabilities likes this? Are there any books by people with disabilities who have over come their problems successfully?

My family are trying their best to help him without being too overbearing. He does not want to listen to any advice I have because I don't have his disability and therefore cannot understand his situation. I agree with this and have suggested researching into speech therapists and councillors. I have also suggested he join different groups in the city, like reading clubs, improv sessions, social anxiety groups etc. Perhaps I was wrong to do this? I would like to know how I can help him without being mean about it... which I sometimes feel I am. Please, if you can offer any advice, I would be eternally grateful.

Thank you.

Hi there,

Hi there,
I'm sorry to hear about all that! I wish we could be more help, but we're an organization that provides information about the US disability benefits process. You may want to give your brother a few numbers for the UK Samaritans, they have suicide hotlines for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland:
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK - local rate)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI local rate)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)

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