Don’t Do It! Save Your Family Heartache from Suicide

Father image by BlueKDesign

Father image by BlueKDesign

Guest Post by Pastor J.K.:

Family heartache from suicide of a loved one can go on for many years. Would you put your own children or siblings through such terrible grief?

The familiar voice of my administrative assistant greeted me on the phone. “Gary is here asking for you.” Her voice then became very soft. “He seems pretty shook-up.”

“Send him in,” I said. I got up and greeted him at my office door.

Gary cut straight to the reason for his visit.

“Preacher, you have 60-seconds to convince me not to blow my brains out.” He pulled a Saturday night special from his jacket pocket, pulled back the hammer and he placed the gun-barrel in his mouth.

I remember immediately praying and claiming James 1:5 (King James Version), “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

I needed God’s help and a miracle. I needed it now.

The words that flowed from my mouth surprised me. I said, “Gary, don’t do it. Why would you want to do this to your momma, grandma, and kids? You know how this town talks. Sure they’ll miss you, but they will be answering questions the rest of their days.”

He took the pistol out his mouth. He said, “I don’t care what people say.”

I replied, “But you love your family. Think about what your girls will be facing.”

“My girls,” he said as he again removed the pistol from his mouth. This time he slowly released the hammer and placed the weapon back in his coat pocket. He sat down in a chair at the table in my office.

“Gary, let me share with you something I’ve never told anyone in this church,” I said.

He looked up at me. The expression was both sadness and curiosity. He nodded giving me permission to continue.

“My wife’s brother killed himself while I was in seminary.”

“How?”

“He used a pistol. It was a single shot through his heart.”

“Oh,” he said. He placed his left hand over his heart.”

“My wife started crying the second she received the news. She cried for hours. She still cries for him from time to time.”

“But you were in seminary years ago …”

“It doesn’t matter. She still grieves. She has two sisters, one older and one younger. They still feel sad as well.”

“What about his parents?” Gary asked.

“Heartbroken. The real tragedy was for his children. His youngest doesn’t remember him. His oldest asks why, researches the police and autopsy records for information, and every birthday, holiday, and special occasion feels cheated by not having her daddy. Plus, he never got to see his grandchildren.”

“Grandchildren?”

“He wasn’t there for graduation or her wedding. I officiated the wedding and know how much she wished he was there.”

Gary handed me his pistol. Later that day he was admitted in a residential treatment program.

After his release he told me thank you. He never thought of the impact it would have on his current and future family including his yet to be born grandchildren.

(Names have been changed for privacy.)

Loving a Suicidal Parent

by N. J. Lindquist:

Despite loving a suicidal parent dearly, one daughter saw her need to look out for her own mental health.

 

Stock Photo Image by David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stock Photo Image by David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Five years ago a young woman’s mother committed suicide. Prior to that, the mother had struggled with mental illness and addictions for many years.

From ages 14 to 17, the daughter looked after the mother without telling anyone what was going on at home. At the age of 17, the daughter made the very difficult decision to leave her home before she went down the same path as her mother. And shortly after that, she made some very wise decisions on how she would live her life, which she shares in this video.

Unfortunately, the mother could not or would not change.

To honour her mother, this year, the daughter swam 500 laps to raise money for mental health in her mother’s memory.

If you’re living in a situation that is going to destroy your life, if you feel burdened down from trying to help someone who shows no intention of really wanting to change, or if you feel guilty for not being able to help someone you love, please watch this video. The story beings at the 3-minute mark.

And if you identify with the mother, please seek help from those who are qualified to give it.

You Can Survive Holiday Blues

By Linda Evans Shepherd:

Are you wondering if you can survive the holiday blues? Feeling a bit depressed post-holiday?

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

You may recall a scene on TV where a husband tells his wife her Christmas surprise is in the driveway with the motor running,  but when they run outside to take a joy ride they are extremely disappointed. The only thing in left in the driveway is the bow that fell off when a thief drove away with their new car.

Perhaps you understand their disappointment because you feel your expectations for holiday joy, peace and contentment were stolen as well.

You may have had high hopes that this holiday season might be different and that your family would suddenly become functional and loving.  Instead, all you have left to show for your attempt to create holiday joy is your credit card bill.

Or perhaps you’re disappointed simply because you weren’t able to buy the wonderful presents you felt would help provide happiness for your loved ones.

Would it help you to know that you’re not alone in feeling disappointed in the holidays?  However, if you’re feeling suicidal because of these disappointments, know that you can and should survive.

Eve Meyer, executive director of the San Francisco Suicide Prevention hot line told the  San Francisco Chronicle that she dispenses three “rules for coping” if you are feeling emotionally vulnerable this time of year. She said, “First, find someone that you have to take care of. It helps give you perspective and feel needed.

“Then, find someone to take care of you. And lastly, remember that people will love you in December as they loved you in May. If your family was dysfunctional earlier in the year, they will be dysfunctional now. So let go of any idea that everything will suddenly change and be great.

“If you do get together, just tell yourself, ‘We’re going to be typically us as a family,’ ” Meyer cautioned. “And if you do feel bad (because things aren’t going as you hoped), pick up the phone and call us or call a friend. Don’t put off getting help.”

These are great tips, and I especially like Eve’s advice about taking care of others if you have holiday blues.  In fact, just today a friend told me that a few years ago she too was feeling suicidal during the holidays, and she even contemplated ending it all.  But before she could act on that impulse, her best friend Emily unexpectedly killed herself.  Beth said that when she went to Emily’s funeral and saw her grief-stricken family —  it broke her heart.  Beth knew she had to spare her family from that kind of suffering and decided  she would never again consider taking her own life.

Please note that even if your family will never be like that perfect family as portrayed in magazine holiday ads, or even if you simply cannot provide the Christmas gifts you would have liked, your family needs  you to stay alive. However, what they do not need is the guilt and pain of your death – a permanent solution to your temporary pain.  So, do your part to care for your family by considering the heartache you will cause if you were to take your own life. Know that this difficult season will pass and though life may not be perfect, you have hope that things will get better because they will.

If you feel you need to talk to someone about your holiday blues or depression in general, you can get free counseling by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.   Also, please check out the resources HERE.  (Be prepared to take a quick test first).

Deeply Depressed

By Jeenie Gordon:

Families often deal with a deeply depressed member for years, which takes an enormous toll.  Fear and anxiety become a familiar part of life. As grief recovery ensues, and reality begins to take effect, people eventually realize there was nothing more they could have done. They cannot force a person to seek medical help or take medication. They cannot prevent suicide.

Let me share with you the following story about a pastor.

He was a respected leader in his denomination – a wise and godly man. Young men sought his counsel when they believed God had called them into ministry. “What are the pitfalls? How will I know for certain God has put His hand on my life? Where will I go for training?” were some of the questions he fielded. Beginning pastors asked his advice, as did seasoned men of God.

Yet, something went wrong. He became deeply depressed and lived in a black hole from which he could find no exit. Not willing to seek medical help, he and his wife struggled for years. His wife did not want to interfere by seeking help or even mentioning it to their family and closest friends. They both suffered in silence.

One cloudy day, he drove onto a long expansion bridge over a Pacific Ocean harbor, stopped his car in the middle, stepped out, and jumped.

Many pastors in his denomination believed suicide meant eternal damnation, but at his funeral, they began to realize this was an act of a godly man who was deeply depressed,  and in a moment of insanity, made an instant and final decision.

His dear wife breathed a sigh of relief because the days of deep emotional pain had ended. Yet, guilt haunted her.

I’ve explained to grieving clients that guilt almost always follows death, whether suicide or natural death. We have the irrational sense that somehow we could have prevented the death – that we didn’t do enough. The “what ifs” and “if onlys” become our nagging companions. Emotional health comes when, in time, we are able to accept God’s gift of relief – without guilt.

Often members of the family need to be in grief counseling with a Christian therapist, as well as join a grief support group to help in the recovery process.

 – – -

Jeenie Gordon is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, and author of ten books. This excerpt was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victims and Survivors, and used by permission from New Hope Publishers.

 

Grief Plus Exhaustion May Increase Suicidal Thoughts

By Dianne E. Butts:

 Grief Plus Exhaustion: Lesson 1 in 10 Things I’ve Learned About Grief.

 

I’m not a professional counselor. I don’t claim to be an expert in anything. But I know grief. I’ve learned a bit about grief through my own experiences. I’ve learned grieving takes an extraordinary amount of energy and therefore grief can make you tired. And when you’re tired, a lot of thoughts can sneak into your mind. And so I know that after losing a loved one to death, feeling grief  plus exhaustion may increase suicidal thoughts.

I’m sure you’re wondering how I know all this. I was thirteen when my parents filed for divorce and shortly after that my Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Living alone, due to the divorce, he endured major surgery all by himself, but I wouldn’t say he ever really recovered. He hung on for more than a year, but cancer slowly took him. I was fifteen when he died.

After I graduated from high school, my brother, who was in the Marines, came home just in time for my eighteenth birthday. We had a grand time on my birthday—going dancing and riding motorcycles all night long. The next day he was riding his Harley and was hit by a drunk driver. He died within minutes.

Around the same time I lost two grandparents.

Yeah, I know grief.

What I know of grief due to the death of a loved one I learned through personal experience. After sorting through all that, I made a short list of ten things I’ve learned about grief.

Through my first ten posts on this blog, I’m planning to share with you those ten things I’ve learned about grief in the hope that it will help you and encourage you and lift you up. You see, I know that when bad things in life get you down, often you get a few extra kicks. Then it’s easy to want to give up. That’s when suicidal thoughts can begin to edge their way into our thinking.

But life isn’t bad. Life is good. And if you know some of the tricks the bad things in life try to use to keep you down, then it’s easier to not let the bad win. You can battle back—and find the will to do so even if you don’t feel it now.

I will be sharing 10 Things About Grief with you at this blog, thinkingaboutsuicide.com. Here’s the first thing I’ve learned:

#1: Grief takes a surprising amount of physical energy. Dealing with intense emotions can drain our strength. You may need more than the usual amount of rest for a while.

To lift you up, InTouch Ministries provides a list of “God’s Promises” for those in Grief.

One way to battle back to the good side of life: get some rest. Remember everything looks darker when we’re tired. That’s why feeling grief plus exhaustion may increase suicidal thoughts.

Here’s a video on YouTube that may be a comfort to you:

What is Depression?

By Karen Boerger

My first caregiving role was when my husband was diagnosed with depression.  During his lengthy illness, I struggled to understand the “why” of his despair and spent hours looking for answers to my question, “What is depression?”

We eventually learned that various factors influenced my husband’s depression: sleep apnea, Seasonal Affective Disorder, his parent’s deaths, and work overload.  Any one of those factors would be a cause for sadness, but having all at the same time caused him major trouble.

At some point over 28 years of his becoming depressed, I noticed that every November (as the amount of sunlight decreased) he would began to slowly retreat within himself.  He would close his eyes to the world, stay in bed for long hours and wouldn’t talk except for one word answers to questions. He would cry at times and thought about suicide.

Depression affected each member of the family, not just him. I became a nervous Nellie and hovered over all three of our teenage children as well as my husband. I was the caregiver trying to keep the children’s lives as normal as possible, but it was difficult to do.

We lived on a farm, and my husband was no longer able to take care of the dairy herd and the other livestock.  Our children were often late to school because all the livestock had to be taken care of first. Bless the school principal for his understanding of the situation. Yet even though my husband’s depression was emotionally difficult for all of us; I knew that if I were to lose him to suicide, it would be absolutely devastating.

To gather strength to get through the lonely days, I would read the Bible and pray. God was my constant companion, and I could tell Him anything and everything.  David wrote in Psalm 6 about symptoms of depression:

  • “my soul is greatly troubled”
  • “my bones are in agony”
  • “I am weary with my moaning”
  • “all night long I flood my bed with weeping”
  • “I drench my couch with my weeping”
  • “My eye wastes away because of grief”

WOW!  Even King David suffered from depression!  We can be honest with God even when we are filled with anger or despair because God knows us so well and always wants the best for us.

We Found Hope and Help!

Our family trusted in God, sought help from a Christian psychiatrist, and was supported by our many friends. Medication helped, as well as getting to a sunny place in February, which gives him a boost so he’s able to make it into spring with energy. It’s amazing to me to see the difference in him even now after a couple days in Florida sunlight after a gray Ohio winter.

Today my husband is a thoughtful, loving man with purpose in his life and he enjoys his family. Praise the Lord for the help he received in his time of need.

Had he taken his life, my best friend wouldn’t be sitting in his favorite chair, joking with me, trying to make me laugh, or  able to chat with me about the world situations. He wouldn’t be able to play with our seven grandchildren and enjoy their silly antics. What a loss it would have been for all of us!

For more information about What is Depression? watch this video: