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.