World Suicide Prevention Day: Finding Hope and Lending My Voice to the Hurting
The day it was announced Kate Spade committed suicide, I called my counselor crying hysterically in my car during my lunch break. I couldn't find peace, so I ended up taking the day off. For someone I didn't know and had no impact on my life, my heart broke. I cried thinking about her loved ones who did life with her every day but had no idea of the depth of the hurt she hid deep in her heart. I later heard of a classmate who took his own life, and I thought, "Was there no other way they could have found hope?"
People say suicide is selfish. I used to be one of those people. That was until I found myself checked into the hospital for suicidal thoughts and a mental health evaluation in July 2018. My battle with depression had taken a dark turn. I didn't tell my roommate. I didn't call my parents. The thoughts were getting stronger, and I knew I needed help. Not knowing what else to do, I went and sat in the parking lot of a hospital that specializes in mental health needs and cried. I felt crazy. I felt hopeless. I couldn't understand how the desperation in my heart was speaking louder than the destiny I knew God had for me. I was fighting, but the attack on my life was so much stronger in that moment.
I sat there until one of my good friends called. She had known quite a bit of the brokenness I was walking through, and this was her daily check-in call. I told her where I was. She didn't know what to say, so she sat on the phone. I didn't know what to say except that I was hurting and was close to giving up. She promised not to hang up. She eventually began to read passages of scripture and let me cry. Another friend showed up. The one on the phone had sent her a text and told her what was happening. She reached for my hand as I apologized profusely. She wasn't hearing it. She grabbed my hand and walked with me inside and stayed with me until others arrived as news traveled.
This was the most horrific day of my 33 years of trying at this thing called life.
I remember the compassion in the eyes of some of the nursing staff and even the look of annoyance from the ones that had to remove all objects from the room that I could use to hurt myself. I was taking up a bed from those who had visible and physical pains. This caused so much shame.
After I was discharged, I spent the next few weeks seeking further counseling, putting aside the shame around taking medication, and trying to find a way to create a new life. The circumstances that led up to this point in my life are not as important as knowing that by the grace of God, I am healed and whole. However, my heart hurts today on World Suicide Prevention Day for those who never found that same hope or new life to create. My heart hurts for the loved ones of those who didn't find a way out.
We often judge people by the pain we've never experienced. I can assure you that the person with suicidal thoughts, the ones who've tried, the ones doing everything they can to fight for hope, and the ones that are no longer with us...are not selfish. I can assure you they wanted to live but couldn't find a hope worth living for. Whether life had caused such brokenness from disappointment, shattered dreams, or unchanging circumstances, or it was was clinical depression or another mental disorder that led to suicide; the will to live gets buried under seeing no other way out.
I struggled with writing and sharing this today, but then I remembered the prayer as I sat in the hospital and held my Bible to my chest. Lord, if you help me through this, I promise to help others in theirs.
If you've lost a loved one to suicide, I am so very sorry. There aren't enough words or any explanation that I can write to soothe your pain. My only prayer is that these words are a light leading you to the answer found in the comfort of knowing Jesus Christ. He is close to your broken heart with plans to bind up the wounds and help you as you continue to move forward in your story. I hope you find peace and the joy of the Lord that is your strength even in suffering.
If you're battling with thoughts of suicide, I understand your pain. I am sorry it feels so dark right now. You are not alone. You are not without hope, and you are not without help. There is a new life to be found and this chapter in your story will not compare to the glory to be revealed in you. God knows you and sees you. Won't you look up from the waves and see the small ways His grace is trying to reach you. You are not weak. People do care. It might take a lot of effort on your part, but it can get better. People can't heal you, but they can help you. Won't you reach out to that person who's saying to you that they are there?
What can we do? If we are all facing battles that we can't see, can we be a little kinder today with our words and actions? Can we handle people's hearts with care? If we don't know what to say, can we show up and simply sit with the broken helping them to see that light of hope that can only be seen in the certain types of darkness? And can we try to stop judging the pains that we've never experienced?
I'm praying today for our world to find true hope and to stop hiding behind screens being seen but not truly known. I'm praying today for you, brother or sister, that feels you are forgotten. You are not forgotten. You matter. Your life has purpose. Fight a little longer.