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Preventing Suicide

In the past short while three young people that I know have tried to commit suicide but they did not succeed. However, two of my husband’s former colleagues tried and did succeed, leaving devastation behind them.

That brings me to this:

Keep an eye on the people around you.  Listen, and actually hear.  Care about people.  Love them.  Minimize comparison, discourage perfectionism, accept people as they are, encourage them.  Be kind.

If you know that they are facing very hard times, reach out to them.  If they are withdrawing, include them.

Never underestimate the despair of people who tell you they are feeling bad.  Never ignore someone who talks about suicide or about not wanting to live anymore.  Never suppose committed Christians cannot come to that point.

Be open about these things.  Lovingly ask if you suspect there may be a problem.

Put your local crisis number on your phone.  Use that crisis line if you think there may be a problem; it is better to be safe than sorry.

If someone you love says that they’re thinking about ending their life, it’s important to ask them if they have a plan. If they have a plan and intend to end their life soon, connect with crisis services or supports right away. Many areas have a crisis, distress, or suicide helpline, but you can always call 9-1-1 if you don’t know who to call. Stay with your loved one while you make the call, and don’t leave until the crisis line or emergency responders say you can leave.  (from Canadian Mental Health Association )

Please look up that crisis number now (a simple google search will do) and put it on your phone and wherever else you list phone numbers.  It could save a life.  And if there is none in your area, be prepared to call 911.

And if you yourself are struggling with the temptation to commit suicide, get help!  There are levels of seriousness here.  Having the thought cross your mind once in a while is a good reason to seek help, but it is not an emergency.

However, thinking about suicide constantly, making plans, or being tempted by substances, weapons, or dangerous situations that you have access to—these situations require immediate action.  Get away from the danger.  Tell someone.  If they don’t take you seriously, tell someone else.  Call a crisis line.  Check into a hospital if you can get there safely.  Call 911 if you can’t.  Do it as soon as possible, before you give up and go ahead with your plans.

May God bless us all as we try to encourage others that their lives do have meaning and purpose and that there truly is hope even in the worst despair.

For more information, see the Canadian Mental Health Association website or another suicide prevention website.

For a careful analysis of increasing suicide rates, see Dying of Despair, an article in First Things.  Once again, a lot of prevention work can be summed up simply as being kind, smiling, being there, letting people know that they matter, and, if possible, transmitting hope.

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2 Comments

  1. Kathleen says:

    This is such hard stuff. “Oh, Why my soul do you despair?” Psalm 42. If the man after God’s own heart despaired, surely committed Christians do also? A taboo subject for some of us. Thanks for shedding light.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, incredibly hard stuff. It should not be a taboo subject, but perhaps one of the reasons it is taboo is that people don’t know what to say or even think about it.

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