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My brother wants to join the army

Hey, Sam. I'm really worried about my brother. He's really intent on joining the army, he's even trying to guilt trip mum into signing the papers because he's not 18 and saying she's ruining his life if she doesn't. I'm worried because he hasn't said any real reasons for joining and because he gets really depressed and has tried to commit suicide in the past and said recently that it's coming back, it's making me really scared and I don't know what to say or do or if I should encourage him to do what he wants or side with everyone else and say it's a bad idea :/
Ask Sam


Hi there

Worrying about the people we love and the decisions they make is part of what it means to care about someone. Your brother’s wants to join the army and that is having a big impact on you. You're concerned he doesn’t have any real reasons to do this. 

You are right to consider his depression and the fact that he has tried to take his own life in the past, but he is nearly an adult and joining the army will eventually be his own decision to make. It is your mum’s choice to decide whether or not to sign the papers. Maybe trying to communicate as a family will help you all understand each other’s concerns and fears.

The best way of making sure your brother has thought about everything and the impact this decision may have on his mental health is to ask him. Tell him you are worried about him and that your mum is too. Explain that you are concerned about his reasons to join especially as he has told you that he feels his depression is returning.  

Making a choice to join the army is a very courageous thing to do and I wonder what it would be like for him if he heard you say that you were proud of him for thinking about this. Maybe he is trying to make a difference to his life. He has struggled in the past and this could be his chance to try and make things better for himself. Talking to him about it will show him that you care very much about him and showing an interest in his decision will hopefully encourage him to open up to you. 

You say at the end of your letter that you don’t know whether to encourage him or tell him it is a bad idea. You are entitled to your views but this sounds like it is what your brother wants and he may be happier to talk to you if he feels he isn’t being judged. Give him some space and time to tell you why he wants to do this, what his needs are and what he hopes to get from it. 

I am wondering what it will be like for you if he does join the army. It might be that you will miss him and maybe that is something you can tell him too. You could talk to him about how you will stay in contact, for example you could use email or Skype.

Your bother's decision is a big one that will affect the whole family and your feelings about it are very important. It is definitely worth talking about how you feel and you might want to tell us some more. You can contact a ChildLine counsellor at any time – we are always here for you.

Take care,

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