Satan was out to destroy Kathy’s life—her children, husband, and future ministry. She almost fell prey to the lies he fed her through her suicidal thoughts and emotions. However, our God is more powerful than Satan: “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.” (1 John 4:4 NIV Bible)
This story, I Almost Took My Life, was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.
As the train rumbled past the East Coast countryside, my thoughts were as piercing as the screeching wheels of the train. Why did Greg kill himself? He was a distant relative whom I rarely saw, yet the news of Greg’s suicide made tears fill my eyes. Oh, to be that full of despair.
In the past I’d struggled with suicidal feelings. I glanced over at my 28-year-old sleeping daughter. If I had acted on those feelings, I wouldn’t have the fabulous mother-daughter relationship I now enjoy with Darcy.
But 26 years earlier, my depression and life had careened out of control:
Larry and I had celebrated our seventh anniversary, but it wasn’t a happy occasion. Unwisely, I asked again, “Larry, why do you work so many hours? Having a two-year-old and a newborn is hard work. I need you to help me.”
“Kathy, I try to help you. Being a policeman is demanding. I’m working all those hours to secure our financial future.”
I knew I’d spoiled our time together. Silence again surrounded us, and a fog of hopelessness encircled me. My thoughts turned inward. Kathy, you never do anything right. Larry hates you. Then in my own defense, I mentally screamed, I hate him too. Doubts and fear haunted me. Will we get a divorce? Why can’t we talk? We used to be in love. Then I prayed silently, Lord, we’re Christians. We’re not supposed to act like this. What’s wrong?
Often I prayed for my marriage and my angry reactions to our two-year-old daughter. My anger towards Darcy escalated when I felt rejected by Larry. Her strong-willed nature resisted toilet training and resulted in constant temper tantrums that wore me down. Constantly I yelled at her. But that wasn’t all. My reactions had deteriorated into angry spanking, kicking, and pushing, and I felt totally powerless to stop my behavior.
“Oh God, help me,” I cried. When my rage increased and prayers went unanswered, I concluded God had given up on me.
The day after our disastrous anniversary dinner, I caught Darcy playing in the fireplace ashes. I exploded, “Darcy, how many times must I tell you not to play in the fireplace?” I ran over to her and screamed again and again as I choked her. In my frenzy, it was as if I left my body and was watching a horrible movie of a crazed woman, choking a little blonde-headed toddler.
Then within seconds, I was back in my right mind, and I jerked my hands away from Darcy’s throat. She gasped for air and began screaming. I ran down the hall, trying to escape the horrible scene. “Oh, God, I don’t deserve to live.”
I slammed my bedroom door behind me. I’m a terrible mother. I can’t believe I did that.
Then I remembered what Larry had said before he left for work. “Kathy, I’m leaving my off-duty service revolver in the top dresser drawer today because I don’t need it. Don’t let Darcy get close to it.”
That’s the answer—Larry’s gun. A tiny voice in my head sinisterly whispered, Take your life.God doesn’t care. Otherwise He would instantaneously deliver you from your anger and heal your marriage. There’s nothing for you to live for.
With trembling hands, I opened the top dresser drawer, and the gleam from the shiny barrel of the gun glinted at me invitingly. Darcy’s crying from the other room wrenched my heart. She’s better off without me. I’ve ruined her for life.
I stared at the gun and began to reach into the drawer. But then a new thought suddenly entered my mind. What will people think of Jesus if they hear that Kathy Miller has taken her own life?
My hand stopped. The faces of the women in the neighborhood Bible study that I led flitted before me. My family members who didn’t know Christ came to mind. I thought of my unsaved neighbors whom I had witnessed to.
O Lord, I don’t care about my reputation, but I do care about yours. I call myself a Christian, and so many people know it. What will they think about you if I use this gun?
The concern for Jesus’ reputation saved my life that day, and I knew it was prompted by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have any hope at that point, but in the following months, God proved Himself faithful by revealing the underlying causes of my anger. He gave me patience to be a loving mom and then healed my relationship with Larry.
Suddenly, my reverie snapped back to the present as the train began slowing for the next stop. I looked over at my daughter who had awakened and was gazing out the window, and I smiled. The thought struck me forcefully, If I had taken my life, I would have missed: Darcy’s wedding three years ago and our son’s graduation from college. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to speak in 29 states and five foreign countries or to have written 47 books.
The list went on and on. I thought of Larry who is my best friend and our 35 years of marriage. If I’d used the gun that day, Larry probably would have remarried. And I knew my daughter and son would have grieved over a missing mother who seemed to be more absorbed in her own pain than about their welfare.
Yes, I understood how Greg could have so little hope that he took his life. But I wish I could have shared with him that there’s always hope, and God is faithful if we will hold onto Him and His promises. I’m so grateful I did.
My daughter turned to me and said, “Mom, I’m so excited we’re spending a vacation together in New York City.”
If you are depressed and considering taking your own life, please stop for a moment and think of all the special times you will miss out on as well as the effect suicide has on loved ones, your loved ones, who are left behind.
If, like Kathy, you have had suicidal thoughts, call for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is 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 call 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).
If you fear that you will hurt your child, you also desperately need help. Here is one article contributed to by Kathy on controlling parental anger: Learn How to Cope with Anger. Here is an article describing how Anger Management Hotlines can help.