This past Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention Day.
That very same day, a well-loved young pastor, mental health advocate, husband and father of two, Jarrid Wilson, committed suicide. He had been open with his struggle both through preaching and social media. Only hours before his death, Jarrid tweeted this:
His death sent shock waves throughout the Church at large. His young widowed wife and fatherless sons now face a very different future.
People who struggle with thoughts of suicide don’t want to die, they just want to stop hurting. And it’s a moment-by-moment struggle. For professional counselors and mental health professionals, every day is suicide prevention day.
Many people have asked how to respond if someone is brave enough to tell you that they’re struggling with suicide — or have actually attempted it. Let me share a first-hand account.
Six years ago, five minutes into a lunchtime conversation with a former co-worker, she looked at me with haunted eyes and said: “In November, I tried to kill myself.”
Stunned, I could only stare at my friend, tears welling up and spilling over. She had emailed the day before asking to meet for lunch. Just to chat and talk about a new venture in her life. We hadn’t seen each other in months.
“I didn’t believe anyone cared if I was gone,” she said. “My family dynamics, my health struggles, financial stress – it just became too much. I was just so very tired.”
Her attempt wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. She had researched on the internet an over-the-counter drug that would be a lethal combination with her prescribed medication. She drove to the store, made the purchase, took the pills, and went to bed.
She silently assumed her husband, family and friends didn’t care. That they wouldn’t miss her. She never expected to wake up again. But God had other plans.
When she awoke the next morning and realized her suicide attempt had failed, she confessed to her husband. He was beside himself and rushed her to the emergency room. The doctors informed her she had miscalculated the lethal dose by a mere 200mg.
Looking back on that dark time, she realized that God gifted her with a new perspective. She sought counseling and shared hard, honest feelings with her family. She opened up to her church’s small group, who inundated her with love and support.
After years of struggling silently, she had reached her breaking point. Perhaps you can relate to breaking points.
Her story served as wake-up call for me. I felt as if I had let my friend down. That I wasn’t there when she most needed me.
That experience made me realize that I need to have more conversations with friends about stuff that matters instead of the weather or latest TV program. To ask how they’re doing – really doing – and listen without interruption.
It is easy for busyness to take the front seat, allowing those around us to slip through the cracks under a façade of “Everything’s fine.”
If you know someone who is enduring a difficult season, call them. Send an email. Drop by. SOMETHING. Let them know you care. It may provide a 200mg difference.
We need to keep talking about mental health issues. People are suffering and we cannot be silent simply because it makes us uncomfortable.
I love you and do not tread lightly into this subject. It’s a privilege to pray for you and wrestle through the Scriptures together to find certain hope and strength.
If you are reading this today and find yourself at a breaking point, please reach out to someone. A family member. Pastor. Friend. Trusted co-worker. SOMEONE. Because you are not alone.
You are worth fighting for.
Jesus gave His life so you could live.
You are cherished.
You are loved.
Reaching out for help is BRAVE.
The comments are open. Let’s talk.
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
Donna’s brand new individual and small group Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges” (based on the book of Nehemiah) is now available through Concordia Publishing House and currently on sale at Amazon.