Maybe you feel that no one really cares about what you’re going through or that there is no hope for things to get better for you. You don’t have to remain in Depression.
But maybe suicide feels like an escape from your pain. Please read on for real hope!
There is at least one person in your life – probably many more than that – who loves you far more than you realize and has real hope for you. I know. I talked with six of these people – one of whom knows you better than you know yourself!
You may be reading this article because you’re afraid for a loved one who is feeling suicidal. What do you say? How do you help? As you’ll see from reading this article, what people who are feeling despair most need is someone who will listen to them without shaming them or panicking about their suicidal feelings. Ask them if they feel suicidal and if they have a plan. Listen and offer comfort. Help them take their next step to get help for their depression. Keep praying!
What’s Like to Be a Survivor of Suicide?
Each person I interviewed is a survivor of suicide. They have cried countless tears. They live with an empty space in their lives and their hearts. Not a single day goes by that they don’t wish they could talk with their loved one. They hurt so much after their loved one’s suicide that it seemed the grief would never end — they were plunged into depression and only the comfort of Christ through caring people and lots of prayer pulled them through to healing and new hope.
Each of my friends who lost a loved one to suicide volunteers hundreds of hours year after year as New Hope Crisis Counselors at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA to listen, care, and pray for hurting people just like you. If you call 714-NEW-HOPE or click into the private chat room at NewHopeNow.org they will be there for you. Or, 24 hours a day you can call 1-800-SUICIDE.
Volunteering in Jesus’ name to help others who are in emotional pain is a huge part of what has brought them new fulfillment and meaning in their lives.
I personally know each survivor of suicide that I interviewed. From 1994 to 2010 I served as the Executive Director of the New Hope Crisis Counseling ministry. I have helped to train over 1,000 Christian lay counselors, including these six men and women.
Here’s what they want to say to you right now…
The Crisis Line Didn’t Answer my Call!
Shirl lost her teenage son to suicide 17 years ago. She read his suicide letter, hidden in his pillow case, and went numb. She fell in bed and laid in a fetal position next to the phone for hours. Again and again she called 714-NEW-HOPE, but she kept having to wait for a volunteer to become available. She finally did get through to the help she needed and received pastoral counseling and prayer and then a couple of years later she volunteered to become a New Hope Crisis Counselor so that others in crisis could more quickly get through to the help they need. She became so effective as a crisis counselor that she went on to volunteer her time to train other people – ministers, police officers, counselors, parents, siblings, adult children, teenagers, and children – in how to help someone in despair.
If you were to meet Shirl and tell her of your own despair she’d give you a hug just like the one she wishes that she could give her son right now. She’d listen and care for you – even if you were grumpy! She’d do anything and everything to get you the help you need to overcome your depression and get through your crisis.
Shirl would help you to see that the black hole you’re in now is really a black spot and that if you could step back and get a wider view on your life you’d see that there are some spots of light and beauty in your life picture. One bright spot that her son would have seen if only he hadn’t given up too soon was that after his death his sister had two delightful children and he would’ve loved being their uncle! He would’ve been a great uncle and a great father… If only he could’ve hung on a little longer and gotten the help that he needed.
I Felt I’d been Hit in the Chest with a Baseball Bat!
It was seven years ago that Jack found his son 23-year old son laying on the floor in his room. His body was cold and motionless. There was a rifle shot through his head. All he could say was “Oh God! Chris!” He felt total devastation and overwhelming pain.
If you could sit down over a cup of coffee with Jack within minutes you’d feel like he was an old buddy. He’d listen to you in his gentle way. He wouldn’t judge you or give you advice. He’d notice the times you’ve been kind to others or made them laugh – these are things he misses about his son Chris. Chris had a way of making others feel good. Even now it makes Jack feel good to remember his son. Tragically, Chris lost sight of what a blessing he was or he’d still be alive today. If only he could’ve seen in himself what his father saw.
I Miss Being my Mother’s Child
Maria’s mother shot herself in her heart. When Maria found her she cried out, “This cannot be true!” It’s been thirty years, but she still misses her Mommy!
Like her mother, Maria has suffered from bouts of Major Depression. She knows how it feels to trudge through life with your feet sticking in wet cement. She understands the feeling her mother expressed so many times, “Stop the world! I want to get off!” But Maria got help to take the step that her mother never took: she came to terms with her mental illness and dealt with it. She talked to a pastor and then a doctor and a counselor. She prayed and prayed. She made new friends. Ultimately, God led her to become a New Hope Counselor and to begin a new career in mental health. She says that helping others helps her.
Today Maria says that her new life is God’s miracle to her. But she still wants her mother back.
My Best Friend Drove Away and Never Came Back
Just before Christmas Suzanne’s roommate, business partner, and best friend drove away in her truck, apparently to “clear her head” during a stressful time, as she often did. But this time she never came back. Then on Christmas Eve Suzanne got the dreadful news that her friend had hung herself. A wave of cold swept over her, leaving behind unending ripples of sorrow. She cried and cried – right through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after that. For the next three Christmases she couldn’t put up a Christmas tree or decorate. Eight years later she says that she still has a deep hole in her heart that will never completely heal.
“How could a Christian who loved God and who did not believe in suicide fall into such darkness and take her own life?… How could I with a Master’s degree in counseling and years of experience in the field not know?… Why did she not tell me?” Suzanne had to find out the answer to these questions and do what she could to help others not choose suicide so she volunteered with New Hope.
If you met Suzanne you’d want her to be your friend. I know because she’s my friend. She’d have time to talk with you. She’d listen to your hurts with her ears and her eyes. Her gentle compassion would embrace your heart. She’d treat you like a family member because she knows how it feels to be alone and have no family members to share your life with. She’d show you that if you were to kill yourself there are people in this world who would miss having conversations with you and would miss your friendship and that you’d miss out on these joys to come. If you’d let her, Suzanne would help you to call some of your family members and friends and let them know how depressed you’ve been and how desperately you need compassion right now.
Letting someone like Suzanne become a friend to you would help you to believe that even though things look dark at the moment, God has not abandoned you and there is hope for you.
I Wanted to Take the Life of God’s Son!
Kedron heard the gun shot in other room. He jumped out of bed only to find his lovely wife had shot herself. He screamed for God to help his wounded wife, but God didn’t come. Finally, the police came and an ambulance and took his wife to the hospital. They couldn’t save her. Kedron demanded that God have his son take physical form and appear. Why? He answered, “So I could take the life of the Son of God! Why not? God had taken her (that’s what I thought at the time) so it seemed only right that I take the Father’s son away from Him.”
Fortunately, the next day Kedron turned back to God. He let go of his angry blaming of God and clung to God for the comfort he was desperate for. He says it was the only way he could hang on. He had lost his wife and the mother of his children. He lost the one most dear to him. He’s counted the days without her: 4 years, 1 month, and 17 days.
Kedron desperately wishes that he could go back in time and tell her, “I love you with all my heart. And I’m sorry for the ways I hurt you.” (There’s probably someone in your life who wants to say that to you and just needs the courage to actually say it.) Kedron would tell his wife about the kids and the grandkids and how they all miss her so much. She would be enjoying her kids and her grandkids right now if only she wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. She loved children! If only she would’ve set the gun down and called out for help. If only she could’ve realized that she wasn’t crazy like she said in her suicide note, but actually she was having a horrible reaction to a new anti-depressant medication that wasn’t right for her. If only she had understood that the crisis she was in wouldn’t last forever. If only…
The One Person you Must Talk to!
Jesus is the sixth “Person” I interviewed. If you don’t talk to anyone else you must talk to him! He too is a survivor of suicide because every person who has died by suicide was one of his loved ones.
Besides that, God the Father lost his only son Jesus when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. Jesus suffered the worst agonies imaginable in his earthly life so he understands your pain more than you realize. And he continues to suffer today when one of his children like you is hurting. The Lord opens his heart to you.
God knows you better than you know yourself (Psalm 139). He knows the number of the hairs on your head and not one sparrow falls down without being cared for by your Father (Luke 12:7). His thoughts of you are precious (Psalm 139:17, NLT).
Each of your sorrows is noticed by the Lord – each tear you cry is recorded in his book and saved in the bottle he has for you (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
God wants to help you to receive his forgiveness for your sins and his healing for your diseases (Psalm 103:3). You are his beloved child (1 John 3:1) and he has appointed an angel to minister to you in the Father’s presence (Matthew 18:10). He sends people from the Body of Christ to be Christ’s Ambassadors to you (2 Corinthians 5:20). And he’s given you the Bible to guide you (Psalm 119:105).
God is everywhere around you in the creation, speaking from the skies and shining on you from the heavens (Psalm 19:1-6).
Best of all, the Father loves you so much that he gave his Son Jesus to you (John 3:16) and Jesus came to free you from evil and to help you to grow into his abundant life; he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his holy and beautiful life for you so that you can grow into a satisfying love relationship with him (John 10:10-11).
God wants to strengthen you with his joy (Nehemiah 8:10) and teach you to live blessings of sharing his love with others (Acts 20:35). His great promise to you is: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).
There is so much more hope for you in the Bible. You just need to learn to read it as “God’s Love Letter to You.”
Dare to Hope!
Would you dare to hope that God does have good plans for you? That Jesus Christ loves you completely? Would you seek the Lord and put your trust and confidence in him?
People like Shirl, Jack, Maria, Suzanne, and Kedron are waiting to answer distress calls. Each is a survivor of suicide. More than that, each is an Ambassador for Christ. For years they have served as New Hope Counselors answering the hotline at 714-NEW-HOPE and responding in the private chat room at NewHopeNow.org. They care. They encourage. They problem-solve. And most of all, they pray to the Lord on your behalf.
There are many suicide hotlines with caring volunteers. For instance, 24 hours a day you can call 1-800-SUICIDE to receive help from a a caring person.
Why do people volunteer to listen to and care for people in despair? Because they know what it’s like to hurt and they’ve experienced the hope that comes with experiencing God’s love. All the New Hope volunteers and many volunteers on other hotlines have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Friend and so they’re able to pray for you to learn to rely upon his caring presence and capable help. Jesus is alive and caring for you through them.
Prayers for You
So please don’t think suicide is a way out! Each of my friends who is a survivor of suicide wants you to choose God’s new hope for your life. And they wanted me to leave you a prayer from their hearts to yours:
“Lord, I pray that your child may find a way into your light that shines through the darkness. Give this child the strength to reach out for help and to accept the love you are giving through others. Embrace and comfort this one and give your peace. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.” – Shirl “Dear Lord, I pray you show this person your kind and loving touch. Let him or her to see that your arms are open wide to heal the pain. I ask this in your name. Amen.”
“Dear Father, I come before you in Jesus’ name on behalf of this person reading these words now. Maybe he or she is suffering from depression or another illness. You’re sending help and hope – please help this person to perceive it and receive it and conceive it in a new life with you. Amen.”
“Dear Lord, bless this friend who is thinking of taking his or her life. Lift this dear one up from the mire. Shine your light in the dark. Show your child your love that says, ‘I am here. You are not alone. You matter. There is good hope for you!’ Lord, watch over your beloved child right now and always and keep him or her safe from harm. Reveal the good plan you have for his or her life and turn thoughts of death into a new desire for life and turn old sorrows into new joys. Amen.”
“Dear Father, I miss my wife so much! Please Father, I beg you on my knees to help me and others in this fight of evil in our hearts. Let no one feel again what I and my family have felt. I don’t know if my tears will ever stop as they remind me of the love I have for you. Please Father, don’t leave us in this dark place. We are so alone and afraid. We need you at our side to stand with us against hopelessness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
“Holy Father, keep them and care for them – all those you have given me – so that they will be united just as we are… So they would be filled with my joy… Keep them safe from the evil one… I have revealed you to them and will keep on revealing you. I will do this so that your love for me may be in them and I in them” (John 17:11, 13, 15, 26, NLT).