By Susan Osborn:
Excerpt taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors. Used with permission by New Hope Publishers.
How does it feel to those left behind, when a loved one dies by suicide in youth–or at any age–by their own hand instead of naturally in old age?
All of us, with surety, will someday die. Nevertheless, most plan to reach a ripe old age before we face death.
There seems to be an appropriateness that surrounds the face of death due to old age.
Solomon expressed this well in the Book of Ecclesiastes:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build.
Many of us have experienced the loss of a loved one. And we’ve felt the pain of grief—the process we all must go through to find eventual acceptance. We are not speaking of mourning over the actual event, but rather the beginning of a belief we will someday be all right in spite of the absence of this loved one. In time, we begin to move ahead with our lives, finding comfort in the hope and assurance that God offers.
Yet, there is a type of loss that is much less easily accepted. That is the loss of a loved one through suicide in youth or at any age–by their own hand–as opposed to a natural death in old age. The painful knowledge someone dear to us has chosen to end his or her life causes an overwhelming agony. Our minds plead with God, Please, this must be a mistake. Mind, body, and soul diligently grapple for a means to escape from the devastating pain, but there is no escape from the reality of suicide. For the individual or family left behind, suicide is a time when faith is tested beyond any human reasoning.
In order to have a deeper understanding of suicide and its aftermath, we must be willing to share the pain of those individuals and families who have seen the face of death and lost a loved one through suicide. Grief affects not only the physical body and mind, but the soul as well.
If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, there are a number of resources available as near as your telephone. 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:
1-877-SUICIDA (1-877-784-2432) (Spanish)