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.


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 Choice: Become an Overcomer

The Choice
by N.J. Lindquist

Sometimes we feel small.

Sometimes we feel small.

I’ve often wondered why two people can experience similar circumstances and emerge totally different.

No one ever goes through exactly the same experience as another person. No one knows, for sure, how another person feels or thinks. Two people with very similar stories and vastly different outcomes. One person becomes an overcomer and an inspiration. Another person may continue to live focused on the past or tune out through suicide, drugs, or another method.

A past blog post video shares about a mother’s inability to handle life after divorce, which eventually led to her suicide. As a teenager, her daughter realized she could follow in her mother’s footsteps or find a new and better life. She chose the life, but many people would have chosen the former. Why?

Recently, I blogged about baseball pitcher R. A. Dickey, who was abused as a child, but eventually dealt with the abuse and shame. Now he helps others. Many people in similar situations have lost their lives, whether literally or figuratively, because they were unable to handle the pain of dealing with the past.

Where I’m going with this?

I read a book by Sue Grafton, New York Times bestselling author of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries (A is for Alibi, etc.).

I knew very little about Sue, other than she divides her time between California and Kentucky, and she once wrote screenplays for movies. I’ve seen her in person at mystery cons and even shared a bathroom once. (No, I didn’t slide a manuscript under the door of her stall or accost her with a barrage of questions while washing our hands at the sink. Yes, she seemed nice.)

The book I’d found in our local library was called Kinsey and Me: stories. The introduction said the first two-third of the book contained mystery stories with Kinsey in them. The stories in the last third of the book, however, were about Sue Grafton. They were written in the 10 years after her mother’s death, long before she began writing her mysteries.

I enjoyed reading Kinsey’s mystery stories. Then I came to page 205.

The stories were very different, rather literary, dealing with the memories of a young Sue who grew up in a sadly dysfunctional home. Nothing like the mysteries. But compelling.

I discovered why Sue’s protagonist, Kinsey Millhone’s parents die when she was five. In real life, Sue grew up with alcoholic parents after her dad’s two-year stint in the army — when Sue was five. Her dad was a functioning alcoholic, and her mother non-functioning and occasionally suicidal. Sue and her older sister basically raised themselves. They also looked out for their mother, who was only occasionally a “normal” parent.

Sue married at 18, had a baby, then divorced. When Sue was 20, her mother committed suicide.

The short stories were written in the decade after her mother’s death. Sue says she wrote them as “my way of coming to terms with my grief for her.” (p. 209) Sue remarried twice before she found her present husband.

A couple of thoughts that stood out to me.

“I wish life could be edited as deftly as prose.” (p. xvii.)

So true. Is there anyone who wouldn’t like to go back and rewrite the story of his or her life, erasing all the pain, making everyone kind and everything positive? But we can’t go back. We have to learn from the past instead. Forgive, and ask forgiveness. Forge on, trying to write a better storyline into our future.

“Wisdom comes at a price, and I have paid dearly for mine.” (p. xvii.) So many have paid dearly for their wisdom, and yet not all make use of that wisdom.

As I closed the book, I still don’t know why some people are able to overcome the past and others aren’t. I just know Sue Grafton is an overcomer. It wasn’t easy. She spent years dealing with the pain of her childhood and wrong choices made as a result of the confusing messages she’d received. But she made it through, and carved out a new life. She established a solid marriage, raised three daughters, and became a world-renowned mystery writer at age 37.

The past is always going to be the past. The future is not yet written.

I felt sadness for the young girl who didn’t know what it was like to have a “normal” life with caring, responsible parents. I identified with the sorrow of the adult who would love to somehow make everything better for everyone. But I also felt great respect for the girl/woman who dreamed of a better life, and made it happen for herself and her children.

Seasons change. Even when we feel small, there are ways to overcome the feeling.

Seasons change. Even when we feel small, there are ways to overcome the feeling.

It’s never too late to become an overcomer.

Speaking of which, you might want to listen to this song by Mandisa. It’s called “Overcomer.”

Mandisa – Overcomer (Official Lyric Video) from mandisa on GodTube.

Frozen Feelings: Denial in Grief

Susan Titus Osborn:

For some who have lost a child to suicide, denial in grief occurs.

It can be a struggle to cope initially with the reality of such a tragic death.




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


“Sarah committed suicide. We are having the funeral service at a church near your house. I hope you can come.”

The voice on the answering machine sounded mechanical, void of feeling. My heart went out to my friend, Ann. I could not even imagine what she was going through.

Although Ann’s daughter, Sarah, lived half an hour from our home, we hadn’t seen her since our wedding nine years before. She was pregnant at the time, and I suddenly realized she was leaving a nine-year-old daughter behind. We had tried to get together with her and her husband, Hiro, but they never seemed available.

When I asked Ann how her daughter had died, she replied, “I don’t know. I don’t want to know!” Ann’s family were committed Christians, but their adopted daughter, Sarah, who was Korean, had adamantly stated, “I have no use for the white man’s God.”

I thought of her words as I stood over the open casket, staring at the body of the 30-year-old woman who had committed suicide. She looked so young. I saw cuts on the edges of her wrists; her hands were folded in front of her. I drew the conclusion that she must have slit her wrists on that fateful Saturday night, but none of us will ever know for sure….

After the funeral, Ann said, “We are leaving tomorrow for Hawaii.” I stared at her in disbelief. She continued, “We already had plans to go there, and I don’t see any reason to change them.”

I continued to stand there speechless, but my mind screamed, Don’t you want to know how your daughter died? What if her husband played a part in it? Don’t you want to greet his parents when they arrive tomorrow from Japan? How can you just pick up and go on with your life as if nothing has happened? All these thoughts swirled in my head, but I said nothing.

I wondered how Ann would ever gain closure, and what would happen to that precious nine-year-old, who seemed to have been swept away in the current of the storm? How would she be able to deal with her mother committing suicide? Who would be there to help her?

After the loss of a loved one, it is not uncommon for a survivor to bottle up feelings and simply try to carry on, but those feelings must be dealt with eventually. It is our prayer for people like Ann, who love the one they lost, that Christ will help them deal with their grief, not by hoping it will go away, but by His walking through it with them.  But we also understand that for some, dealing with the reality of the loss of a child is so terribly painful that some need to process that on their own timetable. If you know someone who has had a suicide loss and is not dealing with it, let them know there is help available to walk them through that pain when they are ready.

Forgiveness for Someone Who Died by Suicide

By Jeenie Gordon:

Image by mercucio2

Image by mercucio2

Forgiveness – an oft painfulword. One to which we do like to succumb. It seems to rob us of ourselves and we try to push it in the back of our minds.

Yet, in scripture, God has commanded (not suggested) that we forgive. I wonder whether it’s because in His infinite wisdom, He knows it will bring the freedom for which we seek.

When a loved one is gone by his/her own hand, there is a need to forgive. I see four stages in this process:

Stage One.  Admission of pain. Often, around others, we pretend that the pain isn’t all that bad. We say we’re doing well. Admitting the enormity of the anguish to oneself and to others whom we trust is vital.

Stage Two. Anger. We have a reason to be angry. Although anger is a valid emotion, it can be either constructive or destructive. A passive person may internalize fury and pretend it is not there. Another person may explode on everyone around them and about everything. Both ways are unhealthy. It is important to acknowledge and deal with our anger – but we must not get stuck in it.

Stage Three. Confrontation. Even though the loved one is no longer living, there is a need to confront. A healthy way is to write an honest letter, telling the person about our anger and the pain we feel over what he or she has chosen to do.

We must also forgive ourselves. No one is perfect and everyone could have done better. We cannot blame ourselves for a suicide. Forgiving ourselves is a must for our eventual healing.

Stage Four. Forgiveness. The journey toward forgiveness is long and difficult, but the road must be traveled. It is the pathway toward wholeness. Eventually, we must forgive the suicide or attempted suicide. 

Forgiveness liberates us.

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

Journaling After My Son’s Suicide

By Karen Kosman:

 Journaling after my son’s suicide helped me cope with grieving.


Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18


Two years after the loss of my son I found my grief once more resurfacing. I thought I had moved on and tried to push the feelings away. But, the tears flowed anyway, and I realized that grief has its own time schedule. “Lord, give me the courage to go on.”

I began dreaming about Robbie. In one dream, cliffs stood high above the beach where houses overlooked the ocean. Beautiful pine trees surrounded the houses, and a wooden staircase led down to the shore. Below on the beach I sat on a log. In the distance my son approached. I called to him, “Robbie, I want to tell you something.”

Instantly he vanished.

A few weeks later I shared my reoccurring dream with a close friend. Cynthia was an author and inspirational speaker who dealt with human emotions all the time in her ministry. I knew she would understand.

“Karen, I believe this is part of your grieving process. Tomorrow is your day off. Why don’t you call a Christian counselor? Therapy can help you deal with your feelings.”

Cynthia thought for a moment before continuing, “I have a condo in Oregon. Why don’t you and John spend your vacation there this year?”

“We’d love to, Cynthia, and I’ll think about the counseling.”

The next morning I made the call to begin my counseling. In therapy I found permission to express my fears, anger, and doubts. I also told of my hopes for the future. My counselor suggested I keep a journal.

Between therapy sessions, I journaled. Then I wrote about my dream, only I changed the outcome: I sat on a log and watched Robbie approach, but this time he sat down next to me. I looked into his eyes and said, “I miss you. I felt angry at you for leaving the way you did. I even felt angry that God hadn’t stopped you. I didn’t understand the depth of your pain, and that made me angry at myself.”

As I wrote those words, I felt my anger being lifted. Tears fell as I continued to write. Goodbye, son. I love you. I’m not angry anymore.

But, in my writing, unlike my dream, Robbie stood up and smiled. Then he walked back down the beach. He stopped and turned to wave. I waved back and felt the freedom to let go.

During my next session, I shared my story with my counselor. A few days later, over lunch, Cynthia read my journal. She smiled and said, “I think you’ll find that beach when you visit Oregon.”

I didn’t understand what she meant until John and I arrived at Cynthia’s vacation home. The condo was surrounded by pine trees and sat on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. We climbed down a wooden staircase to the beach below.

“Lord,” I prayed, “this is the beach in my dream—but I’ve never been here before!”

A gentle breeze touched my face, and I relaxed as the waves lapped onto the shore. I realized that God knows all things. He knows my coming and my going, my thoughts and my dreams. He sent me my dreams to help me to let go.

 This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.


He Loved to Sing: a Son Lost to Suicide

Karen Kosman:

A mother grieves as she recalls memories of a her son lost to suicide.


Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Karen remembers a special time when she and her husband walked on the beach after a heavy rainstorm. The sun broke through the clouds at sunset, and rays of light formed a cross upon the water. Sandpipers scurried along the seashore. The air felt crisp and smelled fresh God’s creation displayed serenity after the raging storm.

Those left behind after the suicide of a loved one often experience an emotional storm before light can shine once again on their hopelessness. They search for understanding. The weight of their grief causes a sea of uncertainty as they are tossed to and fro on their emotional waves, searching for a safe harbor.

He Loved to Sing “Jesus Loves Me”

Our minds play tricks on us when we are grieving. There were times I felt certain I heard my son’s voice. And then I’d remember our last phone conversation—the last time anyone talked with Robbie. Like a tape that had been recorded, my mind replayed our conversation over and over again.

I must have missed something in his voice, something that might have made a difference. He’d called on Thanksgiving. I’d convinced myself that Robbie was homesick and that accounted for the lack of joy in his voice. “You will be home for Christmas,” I told him.

The more I’d wrestled with the question—“Why?”—the deeper I sank into a pit of despair. Family and friends who tried to comfort me could not reach far enough into my prison of despair to pull me out.

At Robbie’s memorial service, I sat in the church where Robbie had gone to Sunday school and thought of how he loved to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” Yet, I also remembered how he’d refused to talk with others. People labeled him shy, but in my heart I felt sure it was because of his speech difficulties. Colorful arrangements of flowers, including a beautiful bouquet of red roses, stood side-by-side at the front of the church. As I looked around this warm, familiar building, echoes of the past replayed in my mind.

Although I heard every word the minister said, I journeyed back in time. . . .

Robbie was three, standing on our couch and looking out the sliding glass door at the rain falling. He announced, “De sky is crying.”

“Why?” A sob escaped my lips, and I felt my husband’s hand touch mine.
Yet I moved onto another memory, Robbie’s fifth birthday party in the park.

“Happy birthday, Robbie,” I said, as I knelt down to kiss him. When I tried to smooth down the hairs on top of his head, that stubborn cowlick stood back up. I smiled and asked, “Would you like to open your presents now?” His brown eyes grew huge as he looked over the pile of presents. His expression was serious as he thought about which package to open first.

Returning to the present, I stifled a sob, and thought, if only . . . Within seconds Brother Stanley’s words penetrated my heart, and I listened intently. “It’s not for us to judge, but a time for us to remember God’s mercy . . .”

O, God, I need you. Please help me to accept what I cannot change.

Suicide of a Sibling

By Karen Kosman:

One who lost his brother shares how suicide of a sibling impacted him.


Image: sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13

This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

A Day I’ll Never Forget, by Geoffrey Palmer:

Surrounded by the cresting waves, I wade out into the ocean with mounting anticipation. Then I dive under the water. The ocean underworld has become to me a place of refuge, a place of mystery, a place of beauty, a place to lay aside painful memories. When I scuba dive, my dreams of becoming a marine biologist allow me to focus on my future.

Usually, time in my underwater world passes too quickly, and I need to return to the surface. A small sand shark passes by gracefully. I pause. You’re not a giant, but you’re a fine specimen. I watch it glide off.

Moments later my head breaks through the surface, and I swim to shore. There I take my scuba gear off and head for my car.

Refreshed and feeling at peace, I plan my week. On the drive home I think, Scuba diving is expensive, but I can’t wait to go again, maybe Saturday. Oh, yeah! This is an important week. I’m going to speak at a local high school about Jason’s suicide.

Suddenly, my mind struggles with a nagging fear that’s been eating away at me. For months Mom’s been speaking with a ministry called the “Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention.” She pushes herself so hard that I worry about her getting sick.

I pull into our driveway and park. When I enter the house Mom announces, “Geoffrey, the administrator at the high school you were scheduled to speak at has cancelled. He didn’t want the students thinking that suicide is an option.”

A wave of discouragement washes over me. Then anger surfaces. “That’s stupid! Those students need to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”

“I know, but that’s the way it is for now. We won’t give up.”

I nod, still feeling the weight of my disappointment, then go into my room to dress for school. I have classes at Fullerton College. I don’t want my life to end like Jason’s. I don’t want to hide away in my room and push people away. Life has its problems, but I don’t want to give up. I want others to know that there are answers, and that help does exist.

Quickly, I slip into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. On my way out I grab my baseball cap that has the black ribbon pin trimmed in gold—a pin representing my grief. A short time later, I pull into my school parking lot, park, and jump out. I head for my chemistry class to redo a lab demo I’d had trouble with.

When others ask me about the pin I tell them. “It means I’m grieving for my brother. Jason shot and killed himself last January. He was my big brother, 11 years older than me, but we had a great time together. We loved sports—played basketball together and roughhoused. I knew he fought depression, but I still can’t believe he did what he did.”

I share my brother’s story to encourage others to ask for help.

My thoughts flash back to the day I’ll never forget—the day news reached me of my brother’s suicide. It had been a typical day with no thought of disaster looming ahead. At work a friend and I were preparing the soccer field for the kids we coached. My cell phone rang and I answered, “Hi, Mom, what’s up?”

I could hardly believe what she told me.

“What happened to Jason? He did what? Okay, okay, I’m on my way.”

My friend saw the look of horror on my face and asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I have to go home. Something’s happened to Jason!”

If I could send my brother a message it would be, “Jason, you are missed.”

Always in my heart will be this question: Jason, why did you do it?

In this YouTube video another young man sings to the brother he lost to suicide. 

Help Friends Mourning Loved Ones Lost to Suicide

man sitting on the grass from mfBy Jeenie Gordon:

            Mourning – a painful, long process for those who have lost someone to suicide.

Two years seems to be a typical time of intense sorrow and numbness for those who have lost a loved one. Over and over I have seen the time frame played out with students and clients in therapy.

 It takes about two years before the force of reality hits home. Truth knocks the mourner down with a blow similar to a heavyweight boxer hitting him in the gut. The person understands the great loss will last the rest of his life, and he hates it. Often I hear the expression, “I despise my life and I can’t stand the pain. It’s eating me up inside.”

Family and friends, who gathered close for the first few months or a year eventually go on with their lives. Rarely do they give the mourner’s loss another conscious thought. For the most part, there is no longer a human source in which to find comfort, thus, loneliness and isolation, can become overwhelming.

Talking things over with God helps the grief stricken person to slowly begin to move on with life. Journaling is also a valid, healthy way to start to resolve the issues.

How can you help your friends who are mourning loved ones lost to suicide?


I have made it a practice for many years to have a daily prayer list for those who are grieving the loss of their loved one. At the end of the year, I write them a note. Generally I begin: Each morning I have prayed for you and your family during your first year of mourning . . . I have received numerous return notes telling me how my prayers have impacted and comforted their lives. One mother at my high school wrote: If my daughter would have had you as her counselor, she would still be alive today.

We have a responsibility and privilege to continue to support those who mourn. Romans 12:15 states, “Weep with them that weep” (KJV).

Jeenie Gordon is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, and author, including contributing to Too Soon to Say Goodbye, Healing and Hope for the Suicide Victims and Survivors, excerpted in this post and used by permission from New Hope Publishers.

The Club No One Wants to Join (Child Suicide Loss)

Karen Kosman:

This story is an excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors, used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Nancy Palmer on child suicide loss, her adult son’s depression and suicide, and how God helps her cope:


Image by Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  I belong to a club no one wants to join. Its membership is too costly—the death of a child.

I closed my journal after writing these words. My mind reflected once more on that day my life changed forever.

My 30-year-old son, Jason, had been living with us for several months. We’d had an argument. I knew he suffered from depression. Finally, I had confronted him and pleaded. “Jason, no one loves you as much as I do. Please get help!”

“I don’t need help! I’m outta here!” he shouted as he stomped off to his room to pack.

Jason had become skillful at hiding his inner turmoil from friends and family, but I knew all the signs of Jason’s depression. He had struggled on and off most of his life. The intensity of his emotional state this time frightened me. No matter how much my husband, Bill, our sons Bill and Geoffrey, and I cared; we could not control Jason’s choices. He needed professional help, and he had to be the one willing to seek it.

A Christian psychologist had provided me with a list of therapists that Jason could see, but he refused. Jason was separated from his son, and his son’s mother. She didn’t know how to deal with Jason’s depression and had left him. Jason’s 3 -year-old, autistic son certainly needed his daddy. I hoped and prayed that his son would be the reason Jason might change his mind and seek help.

Wandering into Jason’s room after he left, I felt shocked to find his most cherished belongings—items he’d never left behind before. I tried to convince myself that he’d be back, that he’d announce, “Mom, I am ready to seek help.”

The insistent ringing of the doorbell finally broke through my resolve not to answer the door. A chill ran down my spine as I faced a man I did not know. Suddenly, my eyes fell on Jason’s driver’s license attached to the stranger’s clipboard. My heart sank, and I knew even before he asked the question, “Mrs. Palmer, do you know a Jason Palmer?”

“Yes, he’s my son.”

“We have some bad news. May we come in to speak with you?”

Inside my mind agonized. Noooo! Just go away!

With no way of erasing the dreaded news, I invited the man and his female companion inside.

“This morning a woman heard a noise. When she investigated, she found Jason’s body in a park. He shot himself.”

I went into shock and felt strangely detached. I heard a hysterical woman crying, “Not my baby, not my son. Oh, Jason, Why? Why would you leave loved ones? Why would you leave your son?”

Suddenly I realized the hysterical woman was me. Reality hit. Jason would not be coming home.

Today I still don’t have an answer to my question, “Why?” Yet I have found a renewal of hope by volunteering for a ministry on suicide prevention. This gives me a reason to keep going. I work with the knowledge that we cannot stop all suicides, but saving just one life is worth the effort. I speak whenever I can to tell young people about mental illness and that it’s OK to ask for help.

Am I still grieving?

Absolutely! Some days I wonder how I can go on. I miss Jason so much.

Yet God walks with me in my grief. My family and friends work with me in an untied effort to reach out and help others. And although none of us has found an answer to our “Why?”— we see God making a difference.

Have you suffered a similar loss? Find more articles here on Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. You also might be helped by visiting this site: Love Truth: Hope After Suicide.