Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts by Helping Others

By Karen O’Connor:

Image from Wikipedia: US Navy members serving the homeless at Dorothy’s Soup Kitchen, Salinas CA

Years ago following my divorce from my then husband, I felt lonely and despondent, wondering what happened to me. How could my husband have fallen into the arms of someone else and so carelessly discarded our three children and me? For months, life did not seem worth living—until I responded to an invitation to serve a holiday meal in a soup kitchen at the local rescue mission. I was to find out that helping others can help overcome suicidal thoughts.

I remember worrying about even driving into the neighborhood where the facility was located. But I knew I had to do something to take my mind off myself and my problems. So I signed up. When I arrived I was jarred into reality. Homeless people were lined up outside the building and others sat with head in hands along the curb. I had so much to live for compared to these poor souls.

I walked in with our team, pulled an apron off the hook and tied it around my waist, then took my place behind the buffet line. A woman with blond hair stood beside me. She told me a little of her story as we dished up the food and drinks and smiled at the grateful men and women who slid their trays down the rack.

“I used to be one of them,” she said. “I stood in this very line, until I realized I’d never get out of my pit unless I did something for someone else.” She said God worked in her heart when she least expected it.

. . . if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday (Isaiah 58:10, NIV Bible).

My new friend learned, as I learned that day, that one way to overcome suicidal thoughts is by helping others.

Check out this excellent YouTube video on the Santa Clarita Food Pantry program.

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About ThinkingAboutSuicide.com

If depressed and suicidal, get help by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. IF IN IMMEDIATE DANGER of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or (in Spanish)
1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432).
Our blog, Thinking About Suicide, offers personal stories and prayers from those who have overcome the urge to commit suicide or lost someone to suicide. We also list resources related to depression, bullying, cutting and other mental health related topics or news.
Use our SEARCH box at the top of the page to find articles on specific topics. Our authors hope to encourage you and remind you that others in situations like yours have found hope and help. We hope and pray you do too. However, we also encourage you to get local help if you are suicidal: call a counselor or the suicide prevention hotline to connect personally with someone who can help you.


  1. When I see a cemetary I am sometimes jealous.

    • Thinking About Suicide says:

      Hi Cindy,
      I’m sorry that you are feeling so discouraged. Did you know that even the Biblical great Paul pondered how nice it would be to be in heaven, instead of continuing his in his difficulties here on earth. So, you are actually in good company. And I think a lot of people, if they were truthful, would also admit to having had these thoughts from time to time.
      But let me share a few secrets with you. You, like Paul, can choose to live, and to live with a purpose. I know life might be painful right now, but it’s true; you do have a purpose. One of those purposes is to discover how to push through your pain in God’s strength. Because, if you turn to God, and allow him to carry your pain, and ask him to give you the strength to keep going — God will help you. And things will get easier. Try praying a prayer like this:

      Dear Lord,
      I give you my fear, my discouragement, my worry, my pain, my anger, my bitterness, and my fatique. I ask that you give me the strength of let of of all of this junk so that you can carry it. I lay all of these things, as well as all my problems, at the foot of the cross and I say, Jesus died (and rose again) to carry all of these things for me; so that I wouldn’t have to. So I declare that all of these things are now your problems, Lord. Instead of choosing to hold on to these burdens, I choose you God, I choose Jesus, life, and joy. I choose to trust you, one day, one step at a time, until I get through this difficult time. I choose to believe that your presence is with me, and that you love and care for me. And I ask that you show me, with one miracle after the other. For you are my provider, my friend, and my Lord. Your son carries not only my burden, but my sin, so I could be counted pure enough, though the gift Jesus gave me, to walk with you. I choose to walk with you.
      In Jesus’s name.

      We are all praying for you Cindy!!

  2. Hi there, firstly can I say it is fantastic to see a Christian website that is prepared to not just look into but be totally focussed on the fact that people, including Christians, become suicidal. I would, however, just like to say that I think care needs taking when offering advice to those who are suicidal through any kind of depressive/mental illness as at this point of despair, frequently it is the illness that needs treating as well as the soul! I have been extremely blessed to be much healthier mentally these days since being very badly affected by bipolar disorder in my late teens and early 20s. I have spent more than a year of my life in hospital with this, though not for several years now. Whilst, yes, ultimately God IS the answer to all ill health, we wouldn’t be offering a spiritual answer firstly to someone with a physical illness. Sadly being suicidal is a symptom of many mental illnesses and depressive episodes and requires medication and, at an extreme, hospital treatement at its worst. In the same way as a physical illness requries treatment alongside prayer, trying to offer hope in Jesus is fantastic (and true!) but until the chemical imbalance in the brain is corrected, you are not likely to remove the desperation which is a symptom of a mental illness in the same way you won’t remove physical pain until that is treated (aside from miraculous healing). I thoroughly commend you for creating a fantastic website but please bear in mind those of us who, whilst depressed, feel false guilt and feel terrible about ourselves when depressed but are liberated from these feelings when medication and other treatments work (ie it is not a spiritual issue) can feel even worse when we are encouraged with a purely Biblical answer whereas God’s healing comes through medication first, which, by the time it has worked, allows for a clear enough mind to fully appreciate the hope we can and do have in Jesus.

    • Thinking About Suicide says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Great feedback and we are so glad you are doing well! ; )

      I think we are on the same page. We do recommend that if anyone is depressed and thinking about suicide — that they should check in with their doctor for a physical as well as any needed evaluation. We also recommend that anyone who needs help, or feels they are going to harm themselves or someone else, should call 911 or call a suicide hotline. We list several on this site.

      But even when someone is in the process of getting medical help, we also believe that seeking God and coming to understand his great love will still be of benifit The good news is that research is showing that depressed and suicidal people who seek God, do better. In fact, they are less likely to end their lives.

      Now, a note to the hurting…

      To learn more about God’s great love, go to http://www.GodTest.com. However, this may not be your last stop in your quest to get better. So, if you feel you need aditional help, please reach out to find health care professionals who can give you the help you need.

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