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I just came back from another visitation last night- another funeral visitation for another suicide. In the last month I have been in touch with three families who have had to bury loved ones this way. In my life, that makes more deaths by suicide than deaths by natural causes this summer. And I am not okay with that.

 

I am sad. But more than that, I am mad.

 

I am mad at the media. I disagree with the way that Robin Williams death was covered by the media and so many others who offered tribute to him on social media accounts. Yes, I understand what the heart behind it was. I understand the need to do something or say something when grieving a well-loved public figure. But Robin was not here to say thank you for all the nice words. Instead, everyone else was- everyone including millions of people who had been strongly considering suicide. And what they heard was “You are free now Genie.”

 

Free? That’s what you call a coffin? Oh, I know the real person is not the body but the spirit. But if that is what we mean by “free” then let’s at least be brave enough to embrace the whole truth in such awareness. Let’s think it right through and admit that we only say such things based on our faith and that unless we have conjured up some strange abstract outline of faith in our own imagination, than we have probably taken it from some higher tried and true source, such as the Bible.

 

 

If we base this “spirit” idea on the Bible then we need to accept its entire view on such things. -The view that says some of us will be eternally free after our human body is dead, eternally free in an indescribable heaven, never spending another moment outside the incredible presence of God. But others, sadly, will have turned Him down and will now be past the point of chances. They will spend eternity in torment on every level, torture that we cannot comprehend- torture that would have ended immediately on earth due to the outlet of death but in hell there is no such option.

 

I know. Those are strong words. But it’s truth. And I am also mad that the world suddenly loses all courage to admit such things when a person dies. We desperately want to assume that they are in a better place but if we have any belief in life after death then we need to be brave enough to investigate the matter fully.

 

C.S. Lewis summed it up well when he wrote. “…I know it has a grand sound to say ye’ll accept no salvation which leaves even one creature in the dark outside. But watch that sophistry or ye’ll make a Dog in a Manger the tyrant of the universe.”

 

Did Robin Williams end up in heaven? I sure hope so. But I am not His God and I have no clue what the true condition of his heart was. Meanwhile, how many people have helped to glorify his death as though he just won the lottery, while millions of fragile people look on and take mental notes? Why wasn’t the focus on the waste and on what could have been? Is there any chance that I am not the only one seeing a spike in suicides since then?

 

There is one more reason I am mad. I couldn’t help but notice how eerily silent the line up to the casket was last night. It is not the guests I am mad at. We were all in the same boat, hurting for the family and not knowing what to say. It is the terrible silence which surrounds suicide that I am mad at. 

 

What if we looked at this from a broader perspective? If someone dies from cancer, we donate towards cancer research, we talk about how brave their battle was and how the family is doing, we talk about new ways to avoid carcinogens and generally link arms to help each other fight such a beast. And yet when someone is sick mentally, or spiritually, we fall silent and paralyzed. Ironically, this is the killer that is 100% preventable. 

 

Perhaps that is why I write today. I guess this is my humble attempt to do something about it.

 

Please don’t think I am writing from a place of insensitivity. I have tasted both depression and the black cloud of suicide.

 

It was several years ago. I was courageously trotting through life’s bumps when I heard something from a famous preacher. He was discussing whether everyone who commits suicide automatically goes to hell. His response was to correct that line of thinking and used the example, “If you die from a sickness in your body, does God automatically disqualify you from heaven? Of course not. Why would he do that for a sickness of the mind?” His point was excellent. I agree with him in that it always comes down to the state of our heart and whether we have accepted His offer. God knows what is truly within our ability and where our mind was at before we lost control of it.

 

However, for some reason, when I heard those words something in me changed. I gave myself permission to stop being so strong. I was so relieved to realize that God would understand beyond that choice that something in me stopped fighting. And all I wanted was out. Life’s bunny trails seemed hopeless. I wanted to cross life’s finish line, even if it was premature.

 

You may have heard before that “Suicide doesn’t take away the pain. It just gives it to someone else.” There is much truth in this statement. Any premature death brings a life long journey of pain and questions for those left behind. And yet, when a person is contemplating suicide they are sometimes not able to see past their own troubles. I could see that an obvious suicide would bring too much pain for my loved ones but I couldn’t see past my own pain long enough to see what an “accident” would do to them, so I planned an “accidental” death. I didn’t mean to. The thoughts just kept coming to my mind, over and over. They were relentless and I lacked the strength to fight them off. Every time they came back they pushed me to justify one more aspect of it or plan one more step. I knew they were wrong. I knew it was not healthy. But I could not seem to shake the black cloud that settled on my mind, day and night. I had been through a season of depression before but never once seriously considered suicide and now strangely enough, without depression to pre-empt, this beast was following me 24/7.

 

Deep down inside, I knew I needed help. But if I talked to anyone about it and ever did decide to go through with my plan then they would know and it would become known to everyone, and the very pain that I sought to spare those closest to me would settle on them. I think I even called a prayer hotline at one point but didn’t dare open up about it to anyone else. My husband knew something wasn’t right and thankfully, he was praying for me too.

 

You see, the enemy of our soul, Satan, had me right where he wanted me- alone. He longs to separate us because that is when his game becomes easy to play. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. ” 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

 

Several weeks into this, I was reading in the book of Job when a new revelation gently sank into my heart and rescued me. I read about how Job lost everything (a vast fortune, his business, his workers, and most precious of all- all his children).  He lost everything in one day. If that wasn’t enough he suddenly developed a terrible case of painful boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He sat in ashes, tears and blood, grieving his immense loss for about a week. Then his friends start speaking and trying to make him feel better. Unfortunately, most of their words were like vinegar on an open wound as they spoke their presumptions about God without stopping to ask God what He wanted to say on the matter.

 

By this point, even Job’s wife was urging him to curse God and kill himself. …And yet Job refused. Somehow, in the midst of confusion and intense pain on every level, he refused to be anything less than integral. He was honest with God in his pain but he never blamed Him and he never took his own life into his hands. He was determined to leave the timing of his life on earth in God’s hands. And a short while later he was sure glad he did. (I don’t know if you have ever read the last couple chapters of Job but the ending will blow your mind.) Anyways, when I realized that Job refused to take his timeline into his own hands, something in me was settled with a new peace again, and I knew that I would do the same.

 

And I am so glad I did.

 

If we never push through those attacks on our life then we never get to taste the amazing things to come. We never get to find out what Satan was trying so hard to keep us from.

 

I have been through worse trials in life since then but suicide has never been an option in my mind since that day. It is a strange story, I know. It is not the sort of trigger or remedy that I would assume for anyone else’s life. But that is just the point, isn’t it? Only God knows what each of us need. He knows what is at the root of each hurting heart. And prayer works.

 

Most suicidal people don’t really want to die. They just want to stop hurting. They want an option. They need a way around the hopeless picture in their mind.

 

WHAT CAN WE DO?

 

 

1. Share-

 

We live in a unique era in which we can so easily affect the mood and outlook of hundreds or thousands each day through social media. Choose wisely what to share with others. Share this article. Share other life giving articles and pictures. Choose to be a source of hope in a desperate world.

 

2. It’s In The Little Things-

Something as simple as eye contact and a smile can change the whole day around for a stranger. Remember as you go about your day that the simplest gestures of kindness mean the most coming from those who we least expect it. 

 

3. Reach Out-

If you notice someone on the fringes, reach out to them.  This world of privacy and technology is not doing these people any favors. We live in a world where many people can live for weeks, scarcely seen by their next door neighbors. Hanging out on the back porch is far more common than the front porch now. Larger houses with tiny yards are preferred for those who would rather spend their time indoors. And many houses are now built with large garages protruding from the front of the house so a driver is not even seen walking from the car to the house. Hand held technology often distracts us from looking up when we are in public, even if someone was trying to smile. And it is possible for a person to feel like they have been in a social setting all evening when in reality they have only been staring at a screen -a screen that fools friends from seeing the emptiness in their eyes. These stumbling blocks only add to the lies in a sad persons mind, telling them they do not matter and that the world would be better off without them.

 

Be aware of this technology era we live in.  It may feel as though you need to go out of your way to reach the quiet ones in your life, but that is okay. They are worth it.

 

Give extra compassion to those who society has rejected and those who constantly seem to fail, even when you feel like they bring it on themselves. Love them enough to speak truth but always love them. You never know when you are entertaining angels unaware. (Hebrews 3:12)

 

However, let’s not assume that the look of success means a person has it all together in their heart. Hollywood has taught us that truth again and again. Matter of fact, sometimes those are the very people who realize their desperation because they have chased money and fame and found both to be empty. Neither have ever brought lasting satisfaction.

 

If your own child is especially quiet and tends to hide behind screens, consider moving the screens to a shared area of the house. Even having you on the couch next to that child while they are playing keeps more opportunity for relationship open. It says, I am willing to just share the air with you because I am crazy about you and I love your presence. We live in a society of much bigger houses than the past. Let’s not let our children feel invisible, even if they act like they prefer it.

 

4. Substance Abusers-

Substance abuse often leads to higher suicide rates. It is tough to feel hopeful about your future when you constantly end up washed up, not to mention the effects of alcohol and drugs on our decision making.

 

Help direct them to a program that works if they do not have the presence of mind to do so themselves. For the record, Teen Challenge (not just for teens) has a success rate of over 70%, compared to many government programs that are as low as 10%.

 

If it is someone close to you, then you need a support team too. Ask others to encourage and pray for you as you love the addicted person endlessly, but don’t ever confuse love for enabling.

 

Remember that unfortunately, when it comes to drug and alcohol addictions, we often have to let our loved ones hit bottom before they are ready to receive help. Keep in mind that if they have had an addiction to something for years then they have all but stopped developing emotionally since that addiction began. Every time they face emotional stress they turn to it again as a way out and the problems just keep getting bigger every time they turn their back. Getting sober often feels too overwhelming because of the reality they need help facing.

 

5. Educate Yourself-

 

Keep an open mind to learn more about suicide, how to handle it, detect it, and not encourage it through social media. Learn about it physically, emotionally, and spiritually when the opportunities present themselves. It does not take long to do some internet research or read a new article. Learn the basic truths/verse myths on the topic so when the day comes that you are dealing with a suicidal person, you are better equipped to handle that first conversation.

 

Here are some great links to save you some research time:

 

         http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_help.htm

 

http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/preventing-suicide

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BByqa7bhto

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqqIV8x82Qc

 

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1QoyTmeAYw

 

 

So… Have YOU considered suicide?

 

I am writing this blog today because I don’t want to see you be another statistic. Life has ups and downs. That much is a guarantee. The odds of you making it here, past conception and through the duration of the pregnancy are so ridiculously against you that you can rest assured you are here as a part of God’s plan.

 

There are lies plaguing your mind right now that feel more real than the chair you sit on. There are people who want to talk with you about that. Please share with someone. You never know, maybe they are hoping to talk about something too and just have not had the courage yet. 

 

If you want to hear a little chat from someone who has tasted hopelessness, here is a link from Nick Vujicic. If you have ever heard him before you will know how captivating and easy he is to listen to: 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2nPI6CTlc

 

William Barclay said,

 

“There are two great days in a person’s life -the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

 

My question for you is- Have you experienced that second day yet?       

 

Don’t miss it.

 

 

 

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Posted by: Anna Wozniak
Posted on: 9/3/2014 at 12:35 PM
Tags: , , , ,
Categories: God in Everyday Life | Suicide
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