top of page
  • Chabad Lifeline


Updated: May 14

When my parents pulled me and my older sister, Beth, out of private school midway through the school year, I didn’t really understand why. My first thought was that it was my fault, that I wasn’t doing well enough to justify the investment. My parents didn’t offer much explanation other than to say it was too expensive. But Beth took me aside later on to tell me the real reason: “Dad blew all our money gambling. Don’t be surprised if we have to move soon, too.”


I found it hard to believe, and impossible to bring up with either of my parents. Sure enough, though, we moved into a cramped apartment three months later.

Even after I started at a new school, my father’s gambling was still creating an insane amount of tension and fear in our home, and he and my mother alternated between screaming matches and icy silence. Beth and I tried to walk a very narrow line to not make the situation any worse. But I started to notice that she seemed more and more distant. She had always been there for me, and with her checked out I started to feel completely alone.

What I didn’t know was that my sister had started abusing pills. The possibility had never even occurred to me. I don’t think either of my parents realized until the night we got a call from the hospital. Beth had come close to overdosing at a party and was in urgent care.

My sister started getting treatment at Chabad Lifeline soon after that. To everyone’s shock, my father announced that he would be seeing an Addiction Counsellor at Lifeline as well. Nearly losing my sister — and learning that she was suicidally depressed — had made him realize that he had no control over his gambling. He used to get angry and defensive whenever someone suggested he had a problem. Now, he seemed humbled.

I was happy that my dad and my older sister were finally getting help. But what surprised me was that Lifeline called to make sure my mother and I were getting the support we needed. I don’t think either of us had even thought to ask. During my first session with a Youth Counsellor, I burst into tears. I had kept so much to myself, so much worry and anger and pain and guilt. Finally, I could let it all out.

A year later, I really think that if we hadn’t all received care together as a family, things wouldn’t have improved nearly as much. Before Lifeline, I couldn’t even name the pressure and darkness building up inside of me, let alone guessed that my sister had been suicidal. Now, we have the tools to communicate and connect better as a family than we ever have. Our home is a home again.


*Names and details have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved, as the story was adapted after being told to a Lifeline staff member with permission to share. Additionally, we would note that the reason we were able to attend to Jenny, Beth, and their parents immediately is because we are regularly expanding our staff in order to meet the growing demand for our services. As Chabad Lifeline is sustained through private donations, this entails significant fundraising efforts. Making a donation can help ensure that we can continue to provide timely care that can ultimately save a life or set a family on a better course, creating a positive ripple effect on future generations.

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page