Columbia University Medical Center
Ranked #1 in Psychiatry
U.S. News & World Report
Ranked #1 in Research Funding
National Institutes of Health
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell

Ask the Experts


My sister is 47. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago. She may have other psychiatric disorders in addition to having been raped. She is an alcoholic and recently has started cutting herself (arms, neck and ankle).

She is under the care of a psychiatrist and counselor. She has been treated inpatient many times. She has made many suicide attempts. She has a supportive family, husband, children, parents and sister. However, we've all reached our limit.

We live in upstate NY - about 40 miles from Canada on Lake Champlain. There are not a lot of options here. How can we find help for her?

Answered by: Maria Oquendo

Alcoholism occurs in more than 50% of persons with bipolar disorder and makes its treatment more difficult. AA and AlAnon are excellent resources. You may also contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for more information and support regarding her suicidal behavior. Of course, she may benefit from a second opinion which experts at Columbia Psychiatry would be able to provide. She may also want to consider enrolling in a research protocol. Typically, care in research studies is state of the art and an indepth evaluation is conducted at the outset, which may be very helpful to your sister.