By Michelle Garrett, MS, LMFT
You are not alone. There are people who care. Jesus cares. He says you are worthy. He says you have a purpose. He created you like no other! The lenses of depression and hopelessness try to cover your view of the light, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. You just might not be seeing it accurately. Your life matters. God created you and He loves you. Even when you feel separated from His love, you aren’t. Nothing can separate you from Him.
Suicide is never the answer. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s time to reach out. If you’re in a suicidal crisis right now, call 911. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 if you’re not sure what to do.
Give hope another chance. Romans 15:13 NIV says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” God desires to give you hope and to fill you with joy and peace. Find life.Tell someone about it. You would be surprised to know how many have walked this journey successfully and have found God’s healing. You really can overcome suicidal thoughts!
Take Suicidal Thoughts Seriously
Suicide is something that happens far too often. We need to talk openly about it and do what we can do to prevent it. Suicide crosses all demographics, but since 2007, suicide rates have doubled in youth populations. It’s the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States. We need to take this seriously—seriously enough to get anyone help even for just briefly entertaining suicidal thoughts.
Strangely, there are websites, movements, and TV shows that appear to encourage self-harm and even glorify it. Sadly, the people in these movements are positioned as the only ones who “understand” or “care.” This is a lie. These, too, are hurting people in need of help, but unable to help others.
Recognize Suicidal Thoughts in Yourself or Others
We are called, as followers of Christ, to help bring Jesus’ light into the world. And that doesn’t mean hiding from the darkness. Depression and suicidal thoughts can make people feel alone. Meeting people where they are, or opening yourself up in the midst of pain, may be the only way to overcome the feeling of loneliness.
How will you know if you are (or someone else is) entertaining suicidal thoughts? The following are symptoms of depression and suicidal risk. Those starred with an asterisk are more serious and may indicate higher suicidal risk:
Please Note: No one symptom in and of itself indicates suicidality, with the exception of direct threats, but more symptoms indicate a higher risk.
Sad or depressed mood
Changes in normal behavior, like difficulty sleeping or eating
Having firearms in the home
Losing interest in things one used to care about
Isolating oneself and withdrawing from others
*Statements about being hopeless, worthless, or a burden
*Statements like “I wish I weren’t here” or “I wish I were dead”
*Talking about killing oneself, self-harm, or suicide in general; preoccupation with death
*History of suicide attempts (personally); family history of suicide
Find the Help and Support You Need
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
Join a local Celebrate Recovery group. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered program led by trained individuals who help participants heal from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups in their lives using the eight biblical principles found in Matthew 5 and the traditional 12 Steps.
Find a local Christian counselor, coach, or clinic through Christian Care Connect.
Find a Teen Challenge location. Teen Challenge provides Christ-centered, faith-based solutions for youth, adults, and families struggling with life-controlling problems, such as addiction.
If you’re in need of a safe place to stay, search the national list of shelters.
If you’re in need of mental health treatment, search the national list of treatment facilities.
Five Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain
From the National Institute of Mental Health
If you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the symptoms above, it’s time to talk about it. Remember how we’re supposed to meet people where they are? That’s exactly what we’ll do. Turns out, a simple, non-threatening, yet direct approach is probably best. Read on for five ways the National Institute of Mental Health suggests helping someone find their way out of the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. If you yourself are struggling with this, you need to talk with a trusted person or call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
1. Ask. “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they’re suicidal doesn’t increase suicidal thoughts. It simply assesses the risk.
2. Keep them safe. Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places that put them at risk is an important part of suicide prevention. Ask the at-risk person if they have a plan, and remove or disable the lethal means.
3. Be there. Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest that acknowledging and talking about suicide may, in fact, reduce suicidal thoughts.
4. Help them connect. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Help them expand their support system by connecting them to a trusted family member, pastor, friend, medical doctor, counselor, etc.
5. Stay connected. Studies show that suicide deaths go down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.
Life.Church does not accept or assume any responsibility for the actions or counsel of the resources listed in this article.
Many, if not most, people have experienced times in life that have led them down a dark path. With depression, everything is experienced through a lens of darkness and hopelessness. Our relationships, our outlook on life, and our future can all seem bleak and hopeless. Our relationship with God can feel distant. The ability to feel joy, hope, purpose, and worth are all compromised by this dark filter. If this is you or someone you know, it’s time to ask for help. Depression and suicidal thoughts can be treated with great success through counseling, increasing support, and sometimes medication. Ask for help. You can overcome suicidal thoughts!
… And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV