Embracing Truth after a Suicide Attempt

From Karen Kosman, with Dr. Kevin Downing:

Truth Image courtesy of winnond FreeDigitalPhotos net

Excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors; used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Unforgiveness traps the heart, mind, and soul in an unrelenting cycle of grief. It touches the lives of both the young and old—a jailer of those who desperately need to be set free. It comes in many forms: regret, sorrow, hopelessness, revenge, and self-blame. Standing guard over unforgiving thoughts is anger, whose accusing taunts torment the mind.

The ability to forgive oneself after a suicide attempt is vitally important.

Embracing the Truth after a Suicide Attempt

 by Dr. Kevin Downing

A man, I’ll call him Jeff, who had been a patient in a local ER, came to see me for counseling.

“I can never own up to or explain why I attempted suicide,” said Jeff.

“You already are owning up to what you did by talking with another person about what happened, I replied. “Sharing what happened is the first step, and to do so in counseling is even better.”

He sat there a moment, then added, “OK, but too many people know about my attempt. I feel I have to cover it up, but I don’t know how.”

“Jeff, in your situation you are not going to be able to cover it up—and you don’t need to.”

“As your healing progresses you might find that you will make your suicide attempt part of your life story. It really is an incredible story that at one time you wanted to take your life and now you are in a far better place. It is a testimony of the grace of God in your life. It might become a tool to help other people. You have survived this dark night of your soul and since you did, others just might be able too. You can decide about these things later. For now you need to heal and spend time with safe people you trust. What to do and whom to share this information with will come in time.”

“I hear what you are saying. Dr. Downing, but I can never forgive myself for what I did,” Jeff said. “The guilt and shame I feel is something that I just can’t shake.”

I responded. “I want you to imagine yourself dragging around a giant ball of guilt and shame. Imagine that your burden is so heavy that you give in to exhaustion. But you are not alone. Your friends and God Himself show up and lift the burden. Together they carry it to the foot of the Cross. And there at its base, a powerful cleansing flow begins to melt away this weight of shame and self-condemnation.”

I paused and waited for Jeff’s reaction. When he didn’t respond, I continued, “There is only one place for guilt, and that is at the foot of the Cross. We cannot forget, and that is why we need forgiveness.”

Then I challenged him, “If you really hate what you did, then hate the self-condemnation that could drive you back to another suicidal depression. Propose in your heart to hate so much what you did that you will not allow yourself to harbor the seeds of self-hate that could force you back to the same place.”

“I ruined my life by trying to kill myself,” Jeff persisted.

“Black-and-white statements are rarely true. This one is definitely not true. Your life is not ruined. You survived. Victorious songs are filled with many verses of nearly giving up­—but you haven’t.”

Jeff learned not to take his depression lightly and to take better care of himself. He changed his routine to include physical exercise, a men’s accountability group, prayer, reading the Bible, and periodic counseling. Over time he embraced God’s grace. Jeff forgave himself and found the ability to share and encourage others with his story.

Embracing truth after a suicide attempt can be difficult — yet the truth is: Jesus Christ can wipe away shame, create new hope and offer a fresh start. Ask Him and he will give you new life!   See: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Suicide Loss Book Translated into Polish (Too Soon to Say Goodbye)

News from our blog writers: the book  Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Victims and Survivors of Suicide by Susan Titus Osborn, Karen L. Kosman, and  Jeenie Gordon has been translated into Polish, and  has also been featured in a Polish magazine.

Too-Soon-to-Say-Goodbye-190x300

Here is Susan’s Q&A with the editor of the Polish magazine, in English:

Questions on the topic of suicide: (Pytania do tematu: SAMOBÓJSTWO)

How does the Christianity approach the issue/topic of suicide? (Wjaki sposób chrześcijaństwo podchodzi do tematu samobójstwa?)

Already in this new century there have been more than 5 million suicide deaths worldwide. Each year approximately one million people in the world die by suicide. This toll is higher than the total number of world deaths each year from war and homicide combined. Suicide is an important public health problem in many countries, and is a leading cause of death amongst teenagers and young adults.  In addition, it is estimated that there are from 10-20 times as many suicide attempts as suicide deaths.

Sadly, suicide seems to carry a stigma with it.  Often people don’t know what to say to someone who seems depressed, and in the aftermath of a suicide they often don’t know how to comfort and help those left behind. However, as Christians it is important to try to help those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

A terrible misconception is that those who take their own lives will go to hell. There is no biblical basis for this wrong idea, and those who are left behind need to be made aware of this.

Does the Christian community pressure people who struggle with suicide thoughts?  (Czy chrześcijańska społeczność wywiera presję na osoby zmagające się z myślami samobójczymi?)

No, they try to get at the root of the problem and see what is causing the person to be suicidal. The individual may be depressed, may have a chemical imbalance, or may not be able to handle certain problems or circumstances.  Often professional help is needed to help the person, and those close to them should make sure they seek this help and follow through.

Why do people try to take off their lives? What pushes them to it? (Dlaczego ludzie targają się na swoje życie? Co ich do tego popycha?)

It is said that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Often the decision to take one’s own life is a momentary, emotional decision made in a split second.  It may be fueled by circumstances such as the loss of a job, a divorce, or serious health issues.

What should we do when someone is trying to take the life off himself? (Co robić gdy członek rodziny próbuje targać się na swoje życie?)

First, if someone you know appears to be depressed and is contemplating suicide, take that person seriously. Listen to what they say. Take the initiative to ask that person what they are planning, but don’t argue with them. Rather, let the person know that you are listening, you care, and you want to understand them.

Encourage a suicidal or depressed person to seek the help of a mental health professional. Because the person feel so hopeless that they may not think it’s possible to be helped, you’ll probably have to be persistent and go with that person.

If your loved one appears to be in imminent danger of committing suicide, do not leave them alone! Remove any weapons or drugs within their reach.  Also suggest that they seek the help of a pastor, a professional counselor, or a psychologist. [Are there hotlines in Poland they can call?]

During treatment, be supportive. Help the person remember to take antidepressants or other prescribed medications and to continue any other therapy that’s been prescribed.

Does compassion takes a big role In the process of healing the depression or bipolar disorder? (Czy współczucie odgrywa ważną rolę w procesie leczenia depresji lub choroby dwubiegunowej?)

The best solution is a combination of compassion and professional help that may require medication.  Over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder.

People who reach out to those who are hurting are “God’s angels on earth with skin on.”  Sadly, many people with bipolar disorder and clinical depression take their own lives.  Those who are suicidal need to be under the care of a physician or psychiatrist to obtain the proper medicines that can help them.

What is the difference between the professional secular and Christian help (regarding suicide and depression? (Jaka jest różnica między profesjonalną pomocą świecką a chrześcijańską?)

Both Christian and secular professionals can listen and give excellent advice. If they are medical doctors, they can prescribe medication that can help. However, only Christian professionals can offer the hope that Christ brings.  They can suggest the person pray the following prayer:  Jesus, I’m hurting and want to have a personal relationship with You. I ask that You forgive me for all my sin and cleanse me. Please come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I give You control and ask You to guide and protect me through the difficult days ahead. Please bestow on me the peace that only You can give. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

What are the crimson tears? (Co to są szkarłatne łzy?) p. 148 in English;   174 in Polish

“The crimson tears” represent a teenager’s struggle with depression, pain, and addiction to a point where she was suicidal and cutting herself.  A story in the book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye, tells Kallie’s story of ending up in a mental hospital at age 15 after attempting to take her life.  God healed her in that hospital, and now her desire is to help other teens who are suffering from addictions and depression.  In her words, she wants them to “receive restoration—the crimson tears can stop—but only with the love and the life that Christ provides.”

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old in the US. Among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate has doubled in the last two decades.

How does the environment react to depression? (Jak otoczenie reaguje na depresję?)

Depression is often misunderstood by society, and the public’s reaction hurts the person who is depressed more than helping them.  People say things like, “You’ll get over it in time,” or ‘Just get a good night’s sleep and you’ll be fine.” However, clinical depression cannot so easily be dismissed. Those who are suffering need profession help and often medication to recover.

Is the depression caused by demons? (Czy depresję wywołują demony?)

As in the case of Kallie’s story, as well as many other stories in Too Soon to Say Goodbye, demons can seem real to people suffering from clinical depression.  However, experts say the demons are more likely caused by a psychological disorder than by Satan. Nevertheless, it is important we never underestimate the power of Satan!  Kallie literally heard voices in her head tearing her down and encouraging her to take pills and cut herself.  Then one day she heard a calmer voice, asking her to turn to God. She cried out, “O God, I need help so desperately. Please, transform me…. Please, God, I just want to feel alive.”

Can just the prayer help in depression? (Czy sama modlitwa potrafi pomóc w depresji?)

Prayer is a wonderful place to start. When we turn to God, He listens. However he also speaks to us through His Word, the Bible, and He reaches us through other Christians, who may be family members, friends, pastors, professional counselors, or medical doctors.  Once again in Kallie’s words, “God furnishes something tremendous. He is able to resuscitate broken souls and create wholeness. His love is not a temporary high but resides permanently inside you.”

My prayer is that all the Kallies of the world can find hope, peace, and a will to live through developing a personal relationship with God.

Publisher’s Note and Warning:  We believe people who trust in God, through Jesus will go to heaven when they die.  If you are wondering if you know how to trust God in this way, please take our test at www.GodTest.com.  If you are suicidal, we advise you to give God a chance to help you through your pain, by trusting even your pain to him.

For more help, please see our articles:

Will I Go to Hell if I Commit Suicide  http://thinkingaboutsuicide.com/will-i-go-to-hell-if-i-commit-suicide/

Our Posts for the Depressed and Suicidal  http://thinkingaboutsuicide.com/our-posts-for-the-depressed-and-suicidal/

With this suicide loss book translated into Polish we hope healing and help is found. Our prayers go out to those now reading this helpful book in Polish.

The Other Side (Poem): Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts

By Susan Osborn:

Some feelings about overcoming suicidal thoughts are best expressed in a poem.

 

sunshine

Excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors; used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your problems in life and have succumbed to suicidal thoughts, you are not alone.  Many have shared those same feelings. It is important to discern which thoughts you have are from God and which are not.

1 John 4:2-4 gives advice on this:

 “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Following is a poem written by a young woman we will call CAN, who went through a very dark time in her life. However, by accepting Jesus as her Savior and leaning on Him, she was able to discern His voice and overcome the suicidal thoughts.  She penned the following poem:

The Other Side

C.A.N.

 

Miles of darkness everywhere I turned—

Then I saw light on the other side.

I slowly approached, curious indeed.

But looking forward to the other side

I saw a shadow, but I didn’t shudder.

For I knew it was you, Lord, on the other side.

No words can explain the way I felt

When I finally met you on the other side.

My prayer is if you are struggling with discernment and have suicidal thoughts that you will find someone to talk to, perhaps a family member, a friend, a teacher, or a pastor. Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you.

You can also dial the following National Suicide Prevention Hotline numbers operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-888-SUICIDE (1-888-784-2433)

1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish).

Hope and Encouragement from Hot Apple Cider

From N. J. Lindquist:

Excerpt from A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider (free book through Dec 2013 as a special gift for our site visitors or anyone who could use a little hope and encouragement. All 50 stories. Download Now.)

The story below is from the book A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, with N.J. Lindquist.

The story below is from the book A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, with N.J. Lindquist.

Be Still and Know by Glynis M. Belec:

Throughout my cancer journey, “God signs” proved that He was orchestrating my days. In one instance, we arrived home after a particularly grueling appointment in London. Dr. Lanvin, my new oncologist, had checked all the reports, confirmed my diagnosis through examination, and then briefed me about the upcoming surgery. So when we arrived home that day, my emotions were fragile. Although I had never played the “Why Me?” game, blaming God for allowing this to happen to me, I was starting to wonder about God’s plan for my life.

As I walked into the kitchen, I noticed my phone flashing red, indicating messages were waiting. A voice I barely recognized said, “Hello, Glynis. It’s Sue.”

I hadn’t heard from Sue for three years or more. We’d been acquaintances through drama ministry and school functions, and when we got together we always had a lovely time, but somehow we’d lost touch.

The recording continued. “So why did God wake me up at three a.m. and tell me that I should be praying for you? How are you doing? We haven’t talked for ages. Give me a call when you get a minute.”

I was floored. I quickly punched in her number. We chatted for a couple of minutes, chastising each other for not calling sooner.

“Are you okay?” she inquired.

“I have cancer.”

Silence.

“I had cancer, too,” she replied quietly.

I burst into tears. Sue and I spent the next hour talking and sharing. She encouraged me, promised to pray for me, and assured me I could call her any time. She also reminded me that as a 12-year cancer survivor, she was living proof that cancer can be overcome.

I got off the phone and cried again. This time my tears were not out of self-pity. They were tears of joy and gratitude for God. He had known my needs and was putting people and circumstances in place so that I could see His mighty hand.

I remembered God’s nudging to write it all down, so my bedside journal became a therapeutic outlet. Words oozed through ink as I penned my thoughts and my day-to-day struggles with everything from fear, to spiritual questions, to relationships, and more. I started to realize what God had meant by the term “fodder.”

If there was any doubt about Who was in control in my life, it was completely obliterated the night before my surgery, May 27, 2008. My journal entry reads:

This is it. My final sleep before surgery. I am ready. I am Yours. I am prepared to be still and truly know that You are God! I am in awe at the confirmation that You have placed before me (and Gilles) this very night. What was the day’s scripture verse in the Our Daily Bread devotional for Tuesday, May 27? “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God—You rock! You know this is my favourite scripture verse. I love the soft, subtle ways You find to communicate with me, Lord—especially tonight. How blessed am I to know You in this heavenly way. How can anyone deny Your existence? You are real. You are living. You are in control…

Note: Please do not copy and reuse this story without permission.

 

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