Suicide is a serious issue.
When my wife and I lived in Tampa we would occasionally drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful but scary drive. Unfortunately it was (and is) a popular location for people to jump in an attempt to end their lives. Just recently I have read where there is also a bridge near Nashville in the Natchez Trace which has become the same thing for people looking to jump.
A person really has to be in a dark place to resort to this measure.
Too many times people who are depressed or hurting are blown off or the situation is taken lightly. Sometimes it takes just a wrong word or critical comment to push someone over the edge mentally. We live in a world that is so quick to hate and be divisive but slow to encourage.
I have been extremely depressed before. I know what it feels like to be in a seemingly hopeless situation. First, you are frustrated with the situation and you think there is no way out. You find yourself stuck in the same routine of hurt. Second, you are too embarrassed to tell anyone or if you do you don’t feel like they are taking it seriously. Honestly some people are uncomfortable with this confession or they simply don’t know how to help.
I know I was there. Probably not to the point of ending things but I think we’ve all been at a low point at some time in our lives where just one more nudge or push would send us over. For me, I was involved in the church. That didn’t help. In fact, when someone knew I was depressed they would say “Keep looking up brother” or “Trust in the Lord” or some other worn-out religious cliché. Thanks, that does NOT help me. I have to tell you honestly that sometimes church is the worst place to be for someone who is extremely depressed. I mean, you’re at the point you need some REAL help and you can’t find it in the church routine. It’s a bad place to feel worse when you leave church than when you arrived. I’m not dogging church but I know that sometimes what we think is the cure can sometimes be part of the problem. I stood in the parking lot after a men’s breakfast one Saturday morning wanting to talk to my pastor about what was going on but he kept looking at his watch because he had someone else to go. I retreated from my desire to tell him and never tried that again.
Telling someone to “smile” isn’t the best response either. A depressed person can give you a smile on their face but it does nothing to heal what’s going on inside. Pat answers and religious clichés are not what a person needs.
If you are depressed and even remotely considering ending it all let me ask you to stop for a moment and don’t allow the darkness inside cloud your thinking. Consider these things:
- Start making changes in your life. Sometimes even the slightest change can lead to a change in your thinking. Depression can make you think that there is no way out or that things are hopeless. That is a lie. Yes, there can be some serious problems that can’t be solved overnight but taking just one step to change it will lead to more steps.
- Talk to someone you can trust. It’s embarrassing and difficult to swallow your pride and admit this to someone but this is so crucial in getting out of the dark place inside of you. Don’t talk to just anyone. Talk to someone you trust or see a professional. You will be totally amazed what a relief it is to talk to someone.
- Delay the jump. If you get to the place of taking the drastic measure to jump or something else, delay it. Step back. Allow your thinking to reset. Sometimes you will talk yourself out of it or shake out of that state of mind.
- Think of people in your life if you go through with it. The people you leave behind will be racked with guilt and mostly asking that “what if” question. They will wonder why you didn’t ask for help or say something to them. This act you are considering will cause incredible pain to people who really love you. Sometimes, unfortunately, someone will do the same thing because you did it. Think about it.
The important thing to remember is not to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The darkness will make you think that the problem is forever but it isn’t. Stick around and see what happens next.
The darkness is serious. The rest of us need to be aware and do what we can to pull people out of it if we can. If someone confides in us, we need to take it seriously. Don’t blow people off or make light of it. Don’t check your watch or joke about it. If someone thinks enough of you to confess then it’s worth your time to listen.
Although I never got to the point of jumping or anything drastic, I have dealt with the darkness and the wound in my soul. There were several things to push me to do something about it. One was the pastor who blew me off when I was set to confide in him but he had more important things to do. Another was a cutting criticism of something good I was trying to do but a hurtful comment cut me to the heart. If I could get religious with you for a moment, I will tell you that the Bible verse in 1 Samuel 30:6 when everything was going against David and he had no one. The verse tells us: “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
At this point in my own life, I determined that I was going to take matters into my own hands and encourage myself. I was responsible for my happiness and getting out of the dark place in my soul. I made some drastic changes in my life. There was a quote in a movie where Robin Hood’s father told his son, “It’s time for you to be who you are.” It was time for me to be me. One was leaving the church I had been a part of all of my life to that point. I am sorry if this doesn’t set well with people I know who are still in the church and I know it is difficult for people to understand but this was huge in making the right change in my life. Now I can see how much of a burden that life had been and the expectations I had to meet for everyone while I was failing miserably. Since then, other things changed as well as other people have changed my life. Just making that first change led me out of that state of mind. Like I said, sometimes just making that first change can lead you out. It worked for me.
Life is worth making the effort.
You are NOT alone. Confidential help is available for free. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.