How can we help those contemplating suicide?
Years ago, I received an email. “Please pray. I know God is my Savior. I know nothing is impossible, but I am overwhelmed. I know suicide is a sin, but I hope God will know my heart and forgive me. I hold the pill bottle in my hand knowing it is wrong but not having the strength or courage to live. I have a good husband, and a son who needs me, but right now that isn’t enough. I just want to die and go home to my Savior. Please pray God will forgive me and take me home.”
The statistics on suicide are scary:
• Each year, more than 40,000 Americans die by suicide.
• Nearly 20 military veterans die by suicide each day.
• On average, there are 120 suicides each day.
• For every suicide, it is estimated there are at least 25 attempts.
The second email came minutes later, “I know I just sent in a prayer request, but I am scared. I am not afraid to die. I am afraid to live!”
I wrote back promising to pray for her, describing a suicide within my own family and how much we were all devastated by the tragedy. My hope and prayer for her? God, please change her mind.
The third email read, “I know the devastation I will leave behind. I know my child, husband and friends may never forgive me. I just can’t put into words the pain inside — both emotional and physical. I am so tired. I cannot find the hope that once gave me the will to trust in God. To believe he will take care of me. My life and self-esteem are scattered in pieces, and I cannot find the strength to let God finish what was started.”
“Is anyone helping you?” I responded. “Are you seeing a counselor?”
She replied, “I have a wonderful counselor who has been with me through these dark nights of my soul. He promises to stay with me, but I have taken so much and given nothing back. I am broken. It hurts inside, and all hope is buried in darkness. I wrote this poem. It describes what I feel like inside.”
It’s in the silence of the night that I hear my heart cry,
When I wish the days of life would just pass me by.
I don’t know what I’m feeling … just emptiness inside.
The place where lies of darkness go to run and hide.
It’s a sadness that comes over, a fear of things unknown.
Can you feel her anguish and pain?
• I hear my heart cry…
• I wish the days of life would pass me by…
• Just emptiness inside…
• Lies of darkness go to run and hide…
• A fear of things unknown…
I pray to God my Father “Let Your light be shown!”
Yet the darkness all around me, the shadows of the night
Overtake the truths I know in my mind to be right.
My intense desire to live… to continue to try
Is now overpowered by a longing to die.
Can you sense her struggle with God?
• I pray to God, “Let Your light be shown!”
• Yet the darkness all around me…
• Overtake the truths…
• My intense desire to live…
• Is overpowered by a longing to die…
Can I trust in You completely to carry me along?
Can I believe what You say, “In You I am strong!”
I’m so afraid to believe that You are standing right there
With Your arms stretched out saying “My child I care!”
Does God really love me?
• Can I trust you?
• Can I believe what you say?
• Are you really standing right there?
• Can you really care about me?
That kind of love my empty heart just can’t begin to hold.
I’m told that I’m unlovable, broken and cold.
I long to wrap my arms around you, climb up upon Your knee,
To find the strength within to say that “I am free!”
Help me believe and trust in You!
• Love too big for my empty heart to hold.
• I am unlovable, broken and cold.
• I long to wrap my arms around you.
• To find the strength to say that I am free.
She wrote: “I want to finish saying, ‘I can give God all of me, give him my life, that I trust Him, that I am worthy of His love!’ but I feel none of these. I just feel dark and empty. I want to take the pills. I’m tired. I want to finish and go home. I don’t understand why this is a battle. Why can’t I just die? It’s like I can’t even do this right. Please help me. Pray for me. Pray with me.”
This story could represent someone in your community, at your workplace, in your neighborhood, within your family. Someone feeling unloved and hopeless enough to seriously contemplate taking his or her own life. What should we do? How can I help? What should you say?
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@ vaumc.org.