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

Overcome Shame

With God’s help, you can overcome feelings of shame about circumstances in your past or present.

By Janet Perez Eckles:

Image by pixatwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Instead of your road ahead being paved reminders of past shameful circumstances, it can be paved with hope.

So what happened in your past? A friend was asked. A bit put out, she kept silent. The past was painful, the scars still raw and the reminders alive.

What is it about shame that has the power to drape a veil covering our chance for joy? At 31, blindness put me in the category of a “disabled” person. It placed me in the “not-normal” category.

And was I sad? Down? No. It was shame that marked my attitude. Shame of living my life as a person whom I didn’t want to be.

Have you been there? Suddenly you’re thrown into an identity that was never in your plans, and the road ahead was paved with taunting reminders of what was. What you had. And how much better it all used to be.

Those reminders are just part of the shame that wears various attires: Shame of what we’ve become. Shame for what we’ve done. Shame because of what we carry in the secret boxes of our heart.

We carry all and drag it into today’s circumstances. When setbacks pop up, the hidden shame darkens the view even more. Insecurities are more dramatic and tough moments turn to tragedies.

Who’s to blame? We are– for letting shame grip our heart. But when the hold is given to God, Almighty and capable He erases destructive attitudes. He exchanges shame for significance.  And ushers courage to blot out regret.

Secure in His love, we walk with firm steps, high held high and heart shining with passion. God’ works out His power. Shame is erased, false desires are removed. And longing for what we don’t have vanishes. And perhaps for the first time, sweet freedom smiles.

Being physically blind with no shame displayed radiant hope for me to see the beauty of His hand at work. I saw the details of the brush strokes as He painted a new life, rich with purpose, defined plans, and all detailed on the canvas of His grace.

Release from Shame and Thoughts of Suicide

By Karen Kosman:

 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shame can be all-consuming, destroy confidence and self-worth, and may even drive a person to thoughts of suicide. It also makes it difficult for that person to make decisions, and fear of rejection often leads to isolation and increases the potential for suicide.

Feelings of shame may have developed in early childhood and followed a person into adulthood, or it may have been enforced on an individual by someone else.

My friend, Jeanne, can relate to the overwhelming power of despair and shame. Jeanne struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. She reached out to trusted spiritual leaders and friends about her struggle. One friend stated, “Just get your eyes off yourself.” Another friend said, “You need to praise more,” and handed her a book on Christian praising.

Jeanne states, “These comments caused me to force a smile and push my feelings of despair deeper into my heart. I longed to be free from my emotional pain, but felt ashamed that as a Christian I struggled with suicidal thoughts. Shame kept me imprisoned as I sank deeper into a pit of hopelessness. One night, I screamed out to God on my knees, as a giant invisible force urged me to take my life.

“Just do it,” the voice kept saying. I struggled the whole night between the forces of life and death. Early the next morning I called a counselor, and within hours, I received professional help. After a couple of sessions and tests my doctor said, “It’s biochemical.”

Jeanne suffered from a mood disorder, a medical condition that causes changes in the brain’s chemistry. With the proper medication, within weeks her brain chemistry became balanced and the cloud of depression that almost claimed her life lifted.

There are a number of mental disorders that cause chemical imbalances in the brain and may contribute to suicidal behavior. Being on medication for the rest of your lifetime is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Today, Jeanne lives a happy, normal life, and she gladly reaches out to others, often sharing her journey through depression. Her words are now words of wisdom: “Depression and thoughts of suicide are the despairing heart’s final cry. If you know someone who is suicidal, listen and believe. Then guide them to safe, supportive counselors who are trained to listen and to help them.”

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)

 

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.

See this video devotional by Jeremy Camp Video, a Christian entertainer. He signs part of  his song There Will be a Day after the devotional.

 

Whether you feel shame about events forced on you, or shame for mistakes you chose, when you give your life to Christ all is made new! Check out 2 Corinthians 5:17  in the New Living Translation:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

and  see Romans 8:1:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Not sure how to find faith and have questions about God? Visit GodTest.com.

Depression and Suicide Risk for Veterans

By Linda Evans Shepherd

If you are concerned about a military veteran in your life, you need to know more about depression and suicide risk for veterans.

According to the Veteran’s Crisis Line, there are several depression and suicide indicators including: 1.) Feeling sad most of the time; 2.) Trouble eating or sleeping; 3.) Feeling anxious or  agitated; 4.) Neglecting personal welfare; 4.) Deteriorating physical appearance; 5.) Withdrawing from friends, family, and society; 6.) Sleeping all the time; 7.) Losing interest in things they once cared about like  hobbies, work, or school; 8.) Frequent and dramatic mood changes; 9.) Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame; 10.) Feelings of failure or decreased performance; 11.) Feeling that life is not worth living; 12.) No sense of purpose; and 13.) Feeling desperate, like there is no solution or  way out of their problems.

Additional suicidal indicators from the Veteran’s Crisis Line include:

  • Performing poorly at work or school
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
  • Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls
  • Getting into fights or self-destructive violence
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Putting affairs in order or making out a will
  • Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
If reading these lists has heightened your concerns, Web MD suggests that, “You can take steps to prevent a suicide attempt. Be willing to listen, and help the person find help. Don’t be afraid to ask “What is the matter?” or bring up the subject of suicide. There is no evidence that talking about suicide leads to suicidal thinking or suicide. Remove all firearms from the home, or lock firearms and bullets up in different places. Get rid of any prescription and nonprescription medicines that are not being used.”

The Veteran’s Crisis Line suggests, “If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is showing any of the above warning signs, please call the Veterans Crisis Line by calling call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or  chat online , or send a text message today to  838255.”

To learn more about depression and suicide risk for veterans, and find out what to do, watch:

The Veteran’s Crisis Line is open to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.