This is a continuation of a series on suicide, especially in light of the recent deaths of Matthew Warren and Robin Williams. Both deaths have changed the way we look at suicides.
The men above are two statistics. And the statistics of suicide are unrelenting.
Below are two of the best descriptions that I have read on how depression feels and how suicide seems the logical thing to do. You still have a choice Both women are evangelical Christians and by God's grace chose to live. SB
My father took his life by drowning when he was thirty-four, leaving my mother with three young children and questions that no one on this earth could answer. I grew up struggling with depression, believing that no matter how fast I ran or how hard I worked, my father's final choice would be mine as well. I understood so little about mental illness during those years. For many who take their lives, the element of choice isn't there anymore. The darkness is too dark, the pain too deep to even begin to reason.
We, as the Church, do not handle mental illness well. Because it doesn't show up on an X-Ray we doubt its validity and make those who are already suffering, suffer more. We accuse them of secret sin or lack of faith. One of the saddest conversations I've ever had was with a mother who showed me a picture of her beautiful twenty-five year old daughter."My daughter has struggled for years with depression but she started to work with a church that doesn't believe Christians should take medication. My daughter took her own life."Are there situations where people are depressed by circumstances or sin or the weather, of course there are but mental illness is a real disease that for many can be treated so that they are able to live meaningful, beautiful lives. Mental illness has very little curb appeal in the Church but it's time to talk, to be open, to be loving and supportive, to stop shaming those who suffer in ways too deep for words.
One day in the early fall of 1992 I simply couldn't fight anymore. I was co-host of "The 700 Club with Dr. Pat Robertson" but on the inside I was falling apart. I stood at the edge of the ocean in Virginia Beach and all I wanted to do was to keep on walking until the waves were over my head. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my mother receiving a call to tell her that once more she had lost someone she loved under the water. Instead I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for a month, diagnosed with severe clinical depression.
For me, I felt as if I had gone to hell. I had been running from that place all my life. I had yet to understand that sometimes God will take you to a prison to set you free. In the ashes of my former life I discovered a life worth living, based on nothing I brought to the table, but on the fiery relentless love of God. That was over twenty years ago and I am not cured but I am redeemed.I still take medication. I take it each day with a prayer of thanksgiving that God had made this help available to those of us who need it but I see so much that grieves me.
That -- depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can't breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp -- and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building.That when the unseen scorch on the inside finally sears intolerably hot - you think a desperate lunge from the flames and the land of the living seems the lesser of two unbearables. That's what you're thinking -- that if you'd do yourself in, you'd be doing everyone a favor. I had planned mine for a Friday. That Friday would come, that Friday the flames would be licking right up the the strain of my throat.
You don't try to kill yourself because death's appealing -- but because life's agonizing. We don't want to die. But we can't stand to be devoured.
So I made this plan. And I wrote this note. And I remember the wild agony of no way out and how the stars looked, endless and forever, and your mind can feel like it's burning up at all the edges and there's never going to be any way to stop the flame. Don't bother telling us not to jump unless you've felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.
Don't only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that -- who wears the scars of the singe. A God who bares His scars and reaches through the fire to grab us, "Come -- Escape into Me."Nobody had told me that - that one of the ways to get strong again is to set the words free. You know -- The Word that bends close and breathes warming love into the universe.... and the words mangled around swollen secrets and strangling dark -- just let the Word, the words, all free in you.
If you would like to have Robyn and I do one of our seminars on mental illness or grief, please call our office for more information. You will find our phone number on the contact us form. Leave us a note also, if you please! http://www.heartfeltmin.org/#!contact/cito.
Steve and Robyn Bloems' book -
Our largest chapter is about suicide and suicide prevention. SB