Grief-stricken Malaysia Airlines Families Having 'Suicidal' Thoughts

Hospitalizations and suicidal tendencies among relatives who remain in "limbo."

ByABC News
March 21, 2014, 1:08 PM

Mar. 21, 2014— -- A grief counselor for the relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysian jetliner said that desperation for information has led some family members to be hospitalized and others to have suicidal plans.

Paul Yin, a psychologist who has provided volunteer counseling services to the Chinese families who have spent two weeks in limbo at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, said they are fluctuating daily from hope to despair -- and awaiting any concrete news of their loved ones.

"Many of the family members start to lean towards one way or another. They are leaning towards accepting that their love ones are not coming back,” Yin told ABC News. "Others are just holding onto any kind of rumors, or conspiracy theory that may convince them that they may be alive."

Every day, the families’ emotions are jerked around as pieces of information filter through about missing flight 370, said Yin.

But yesterday’s news that officials may have found plane debris off the coast of Australia shattered their nerves and caused a "mini eruption," he said.

That little piece of information pushed some over the edge to accepting that the plane had crashed.

"That’s when the emotions just poured out," said Yin. “Elderly people with heart conditions and asthma were passing out and we had to call in ambulances."

Yin went on to say he is especially worried about elderly family members, saying some had expressed suicidal thoughts and even made specific suicidal plans.

"In the Chinese culture when a person gets to a certain age, the meaning of life is about your grandchildren -- your legacy," said Yin. "So when that is taken away, it is difficult for some of them to think of reason to live, a reason to stay around."

Only after authorities reach some kind of "final verdict" about the plane's fate can the families begin the healing process, Yin said.

"Healing needs a starting point. And the starting point needs to be stable," he said. "Right now there is no starting point for healing because it is floating."