Seeing Hope in the Face of Suicide

December 18, 2013

Some say the true worth of writing is how deeply you stir the soul. What if the soul you need to stir feels helpless, lost or depressed to the point of taking his/her own life? If this is you or you know someone who is struggling, please read on.

Know this: you are not alone and help exists. I urge you to call the number below immediately . . . not later or maybe, right now.

Suicide Prevention

Facing these computer keys, I long to inspire real hope. I long to “make it all better” . . . but I can’t promise that. Instead, I hope with every shred of my being that each soul who sees these words feels wanted, feels connected and feels value in continuing to live.

  1. You deserve to live. I’m not telling you that you have to, not guilting you, not judging you, not demeaning your feelings, not listing all the things that could or should be, and not arguing with your perception. I’m saying that your journey is unique. Yes, it is (not “may be” or “could be” but “is”) immensely painful at times, yet you are not worthless or worth less than anyone else.
  2. Your choices are your own. Life likes to spin us, trick us and distract us from feeling stable. Still, every choice is truly your own. Deciding to face a challenge, addiction or change is not easy, but you don’t have to face it alone or tackle everything all at once. Small steps keep us from feeling overwhelmed and help us recognize progress.

The holidays may seem shiny and jingling with joy, but that is not the case for everyone. The pressure to feel happy, to be ok and to mask pain at parties can be draining. Again, whatever you are facing or feeling, it is valid. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Let me share a story:

Someone very close to me struggled with thoughts of suicide for years. More nights than I can count, we had late chats about how “life isn’t worth living” or “it’s too much to bear” or, the most heartbreaking to me, “no one loves me anymore” coupled with “no one will miss me.” I remember pleading for him to reconsider and to see the bright side. I remember promising to never give up and always be there, so he never felt alone. I remember debating about his drinking and how he was choosing to destroy himself. I remember forcing myself to stay awake long enough to ensure he was in a deep sleep. I remember praying fiercely that he would be alive in the morning, often falling asleep crouched by my bed. Most of all, I remember keeping it to myself so no one would judge him.

Looking back, no one told me the “right way” to speak to someone contemplating suicide. No one said not to argue, not to keep it secret, not to carry the weight. My hope had to flicker quietly behind my breastbone, fearful of being snuffed out by sudden loss. I thank God for the days we had together, particularly the ones where he later chose sobriety and life. I now know that his life and the decision to live it was always his own. I was a hand, a shoulder, a friend, a compassionate companion but not a savior. That’s Jesus.

Now, those nights roll back in as sparks when I need to summon embers of empathy or when everyday trials cast emotional shadows. They give me perspective, they define my character and they remind me of how fleeting and precious, I believe, life truly is.

As a grief facilitator, I am now called to be a steady hand that reaches out when the dark fog of loss seems suffocating. I am not the light (that is within you) nor will I “fix” you. Despite my training, I want to be clear that my degree is not in psychiatry or psychology. For the best care, seek out a licensed professional whom you feel comfortable speaking with and who demonstrates genuine interest in your well-being.

Suicide is not necessarily about weakness, selfishness or mental instability. Forget about the labels. What’s important is that help exists for your hurt. There is no shame in asking for help; in fact, it’s you walking through the door toward greater hope. That door is always open.

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