Thoughts on suicide, part two

Larry Davies

Years ago, someone sent me several emails that no one ever wants to see. “I know I just sent in a prayer request, but I am scared. I am not afraid to die. I am afraid to live!” She shared a poem illustrating the darkness and emptiness she was feeling while struggling to hear from and understand God:

“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 anguish?  

I wrote back, sharing of a suicide within my family and the devastation we felt. My hope was for a change of heart, but her response implied that she seemed more determined than ever to die.

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?

My efforts to help her were not enough. So, I began to pray – and listen. I sensed God wanting me to share her story and allow a community of faith to pray and reach out. Copies of her emails were forwarded to hundreds of people who promised to pray. The response was rapid and incredible. Many began to pray immediately. Soon, she received emails from people who shared their own struggles with pain and depression and how God guided their recovery. For example:

• “After my brother gave up his own life, I wondered if I should do the same, I even stared at my gas oven for a while. However, I know that GOD HAS A PLAN for my life (and yours), and that we are here for a reason. I am not a professional counselor, but I have been praying for you … that we would seek God’s wisdom and allow His spirit to work in your life and mine.”

• “I remember VIVIDLY what my struggle was like. I encourage you to hang on. God has heard the cries of your heart. You are important! You are unique. You are deeply loved, fully forgiven, and completely accepted. You might want to repeat those words. I had a “tape” running in my head, ‘It’s hopeless, why keep trying?’ We need a new message of hope. Remember John 3:16. ‘For God so loved the world ...’ Well, the world includes you and me.”

• “I was touched by her story and felt the need to give my phone number. She called and we talked for several hours ... I don’t know if I helped but I did feel the need to reach out.”

• “I felt compelled to respond. I’m 18 years old, but I’ve struggled with depression. Everything was wrong, nothing was right. Someone told me: ‘When you are sad, Jesus is sad too. When you cry, so does He.’ They told of God’s amazing love for me, how NOTHING can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39). It was what I needed to hear. Here’s my prayer for you: ‘Father, I come today with a special person on my heart. I pray your love will surround and fill her heart. I pray that her hurts, sadness, feelings of unworthiness be taken away. May Your blessings be poured upon her and may her heart be touched with grace and mercy. Amen.’ You are special. Don’t ever forget it.”

My person considering suicide felt alone and abandoned. At first, I responded alone. We both needed help but in different ways. We both needed to hear:

“You are important. You are never truly alone. You are a unique and vital part of a vibrant community of faith. Learn to replace your worries with prayer and you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

Later, she wrote: “I wish I could say your prayers are a success and I have won this battle. I wish I could tell you that I feel joy and hope again. But I just can’t, so I continue to pray for God to help me and He does by keeping me alive another day: one minute at a time. Thank you for your support and prayers.”

Are you considering suicide? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255. They are open 24 hours, seven days a week. On the web: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Larry Davies is pastor of Mineral United Methodist and Mt. Pleasant Methodist churches in Louisa County.

For Comments and Questions: LarryDavies@PrayWithYou.org

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