The Sojourn Blog
Discussions on relationships, culture, and faith.
It’s National Suicide Awareness week. If you’re contemplating suicide, this post is for you. If you have a friend or family member who is contemplating suicide, then this post is for you. If you’re wanting to be more aware, then this post is for you.
Suicide has deeply impacted my family. When I was young, my grandfather killed himself. Blindness from diabetes was making him unable to work and provide like he used to. He didn’t know what to do and I don’t think he knew who he was anymore.
This event had a ripple effect throughout my family. When I found myself struggling with depression in high school, suicidal thoughts came along too. It probably had a lot to do with my family history. It was like that door had been opened as a legitimate option. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience with a family member, friend, or acquaintance. There were certain weeks where thinking about suicide was an everyday occurrence.
There are almost 45,000 people in America alone who die by suicide every year (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/). For perspective, that’s about the same as the student enrollment at the University of Washington where I work. This is every single year. Just in our country. Additionally, there are 25 suicide attempts for every completed suicide. We must talk about this.
1. You are not alone.
Many, MANY people struggle with this. Who else has thought about suicide? I’d raise my hand. Most of my friends would raise their hands. I’ve talked with many people as a campus minister who would raise their hands too.
Thinking about suicide is not an abnormal experience. There are moments in life where we just can’t see how things could be better and suicide can feel like the best option. You’re not alone. Other people wrestle with this too.
2. Our thoughts lie to us.
What are your thoughts telling you? No one loves me. They wouldn’t miss me. I can’t come back from this. This will never change.
Test it out! Ask someone. The people around you love you so much. I guarantee they don’t think you’re a failure. You are so much more harsh on yourself than the people around you are. Nothing that you’ve done, felt, or thought makes you irredeemable. This includes anything that has been done to you. You are loved. You matter.
3. There is hope.
Many people lose this battle everyday, but there are even more who find increasing levels of freedom. It will not always be like this. There is hope for you!
We have a cultural myth that our personalities, our mental states, and/or our thoughts can’t change. We are born predisposed to things and that is final. That’s simply just not true. It doesn’t hold up to scientific evidence, faith, or personal experience. God designed our brains to adapt. You’re brain and who you are, are changing even as you read these words. You’re not stuck in this.
4. There are communities of hope and healing.
Find a support system. Loneliness and isolation are the soil that gives growth to our suicidal thoughts. Please seek out a community where you can heal and be filled with hope again. At times, we need people to hope for us when we can’t do it for ourselves. It could be your friend group, your family, your church, or something else. Find people who will listen to you. People who will walk this road with you.
Typically, it begins with one person. Open up to a trusted friend, get counseling, call a pastor, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Call me, my number is on the bottom of the page. There is absolutely no shame in needing help. Life is hard. We all need help along the journey!
5. Look out for the people around you.
If you aren’t currently dealing with this personally, then be aware of the people around you. Talk to someone if you’re worried about them. You will never “accidentally” put a suicidal thought into someone’s head. Bringing it up is the best possible thing you can do. And if they have been considering suicide, it may lead to a very important conversation. After this, know your limits, direct your friend to professionals who know how to help.
I’m forever thankful for the people who helped me through my own experience with this. It’s still an ongoing process, but I’ve found significant freedom in my thoughts, mood, and behaviors. More than anything, I’m thankful for Jesus transforming my life over the last eight years.
There is hope.
Have you or a friend ever struggled with thoughts of suicide? How are you doing?