I woke up to a stand-alone CNN article link in a text from my oldest daughter. It was descriptive enough for me to glean the content. My first thought was “fake news” but deep down I knew it held heart-wrenching credibility.
Anthony Bourdain had taken his life. Kate Spade had preceded him just a few days before. I still grieve the loss of Robin Williams from 2014. I wonder if they had been around people who loved them dearly hours or maybe even minutes before they retreated to their hopeless hollow. I wonder what would have made a difference.
As my husband said recently, you never know what people are going through on the inside even when they seem so confident on the outside. Sure, we actually know very little about celebrities, but what about people we know in real life? What if I could have shared Jesus with Bourdain or Spade or Williams? Would it have made a difference?
I keep thinking that I should set up a table in Chick Fil A and place a sign that says, “Please sit with me. Hope is here.” I mean, knowing Bourdain’s love for food, he was probably out eating something good that day and what if someone had invited him into hope? Spade may have wandered through her day grasping for a glimmer of hope. What if someone had looked straight into her soul and smiled? Would that have made a difference?
I keep thinking about how relentlessly apparent it is that this life is not a drill. I don’t want to miss my opportunity to share hope with someone when it might be someone’s last opportunity to hear it. What if I could share Jesus with someone in my everyday life who might be silently contemplating suicide? Could I make a difference?
Stefanie, a fellow believer, friend, mental health advocate, and licensed therapist, shared a much-needed perspective that I think answers the question:
A lot of times when people die from suicide their loved ones and others that knew them often wonder why they didn’t reach out, why they didn’t say something.
The truth is that most people who are having suicidal thoughts aren’t going to want to tell you. Depression and suicidal thoughts are already telling them that “they are too much,” “you would be better off without them,” or that “they don’t matter.” It lies, it steals life, it cheats and robs you of the hope and love you deserve.
That, coupled with the uncomfortable reaction they expect to get such as fear of being judged or “locked away,” or invalidated by being told to “pray/meditate it away,” make that impossible. It’s not easy. The heaviness of what they are feeling is sickening, and reaching out feels like the impossible thing to do.
Coming from someone who’s battled depression and suicidal thoughts in the past, and as a mental health professional today, I plead you to not wait for your loved one to come to you and share their feelings. It might end up being too late. Talking about suicide is not going to make someone complete suicide.
– Ask them if they have ever had thoughts of hurting themselves
– Do they have a plan? Do they have access to hurt themselves?
– What is it that they need to keep them safe?
– Call a professional or 911, go to the emergency room
– Notice a friend is depressed? Check in on them!
– A call/text/stupid emoji can be enough to let someone know that they aren’t alone.
– Offer to listen, don’t try to fix, don’t try to sell them on some essential oil or nutritional supplement/snake elixir
– Encourage them to get help, offer to go with them to appointments, help them find a good therapist and psychiatrist or mental health facility
– Learn about coping skills, help them find things to ease the burden of their depression
– DON’T shame them about medications. Medications play a vital role in maintaining healthy brain chemistry. They are not a crutch, nor do they mean someone is weak. SKILLS and PILLS save lives!
My friend, Rebekah, said, “Please remember that when you’re in a dark place, giving yourself the silent treatment is no treatment at all.” She shared this link with a depression assessment from Baton Rouge General.
If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, you are not alone! More importantly, you are still here! And I’m SO thankful! Your story matters. You are worth living. I need you to know that Jesus loves you and He is the hope you are longing for. He is the love you deserve.
If you are someone who has been impacted by suicide, please check out this website, The Gift of Second. There is hope for you as well and you are most definitely not alone.
In full disclosure, I have never thought of taking my own life but in times of great sadness, when the wounds were too heavy, I have begged God to take it for me. I don’t know it all, but I know enough to know that these feelings are real. There has to be something I can do to help. For today, these 900 or so words are my something. Maybe tomorrow you’ll find me sitting at my local Chick Fil A displaying an invitation to sit with me and discuss hope.
Andrea Stunz has been a Christ-follower from the age of seven. She is the loyal wife to one, loving mom to three amazing adult children, grateful mother-in-law and ridiculously proud grandmother. A well-traveled Texan, having lived in Brazil, Asia, and the UK, Andrea finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Andrea longs to encourage others by sharing stories because “a story worth living is a story worth sharing”. Find more from her at AndreaStunz.com.