Suicide

 

WILL I EVER KNOW LOVE, JOY AND HOPE AGAIN?

Yes, you certainly can have love, joy, hope and peace again. You may still be struggling with suicidal thoughts or maybe grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide, but you can have sorrow and joy at the same time! Your soul can have peace knowing that all is well and, in Christ Jesus, you will see your loved one again. Even in the grieving, the Holy Spirit causes supernatural joy to well up from within.

‘In quietness and trust is your strength.’  Is 30:15

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. 2 Cor 6:10

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13

What is it?

Unless stated, this section is written by Jeannie’s spiritual daughter, Julie Davies

The act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Suicide

An epidemic!

In 2012, suicide was the second highest cause of death both in the 15-24 (c.4,900) and 25-34 (c.6,200) age groups. It was only topped by drugs (poisoning), of which many deaths may well have been suicide as well. The impact of child suicide on a parent is, reportedly, the worse thing a human being can experience (along with torture in a concentration camp). 75%-90% of marriages break up after a child suicide. Immediate and extended family members are impacted for the rest of their lives, including depression, addiction and health, business and financial failure. For every completed suicide, 12 people visit a hospital due to self-harm (this equated to c.0.5M people in 2013)!

Death of a child

In 2012, there were a total of c.78,200 deaths of people under the age of 35. Every death of a child is unbelievably painful and is one of the major reasons that people lose their faith in God and will often become atheists. Including extended family members and friends, close to 10 million people are powerfully impacted each year by the death of people under 35.

Symptoms
  1. From save.org (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Additional Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized pos
  1. From webmd.com

Any of the following could be potential warning signs for suicide:

  • Excessive sadness or moodiness: Long-lasting sadness, mood swings, and unexpected rage.
  • Hopelessness: Feeling a deep sense of hopelessness about the future, with little expectation that circumstances can improve.
  • Sleep
  • Sudden calmness: Suddenly becoming calmafter a period of depressionor moodiness can be a sign that the person has made a decision to end his or her life.
  • Withdrawal: Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance: A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.
  • Dangerous or self-harmful behavior: Potentially dangerous behavior, such as reckless driving, engaging in unsafe sex, and increased use of drugs and/or alcohol might indicate that the person no longer values his or her life.
  • Recent trauma or life crisis: A major life crises might trigger a suicide attempt. Crises include the death of a loved one or pet, divorce or break-up of a relationship, diagnosis of a major illness, loss of a job, or serious financial problems.
  • Making preparations: Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might includevisiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.

            Threatening suicide: From 50% to 75% of those considering suicide will give someone — a friend or relative — a warning sign. However, not everyone who is considering suicide will say so, and not everyone who threatens suicide will follow through with it. Every threat of suicide should be taken seriously.

Who is most likely to commit suicide?

Suicide rates are highest in teens, young adults, and the elderly. White men over the age of 65 have the highest rate of suicide. Suicide risk also is higher in the following groups:

  • Older people who have lost a spouse through death or divorce
  • People who have attempted suicide in the past
  • People with a family history of suicide
  • People with a friend or co-worker who committed suicide
  • People with a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • People who are unmarried, unskilled, or unemployed
  • People with long-term pain or a disabling or terminal illness
  • People who are prone to violent or impulsive behavior
  • People who have recently been released from a psychiatric hospitalization (This often is a very frightening period of transition.)
  • People in certain professions, such as police officers and health careproviders who work with terminally ill patients
  • People with substance abuse problems

Although women are three times as likely to attempt suicide, men are far more likely to complete the act. (www.webmd.com )

Stages of Grief

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

‘No two people grieve in the same way and it’s wrong and dangerous to be too prescriptive about the stages of grief a person should go through.

There is a helpful analogy in the deep sea diver.  He goes down into unknown waters that are dark, mysterious, and dangerous and a huge weight of water pressing down on him.  In coming up to the surface and the light, he has to be very careful.  If he comes up too quickly he will get the ‘bends’ (bubbles forming in the body) that can lead to paralysis and death.  His ascent needs to vary depending on different conditions.

Similarly, people grieve in different ways – different symptoms and different lengths of time.  It is not something to be rushed!

However, it is possible to recognize different stages of grief that may not manifest in the same order:

  • Denial and Isolation– for quite a while, Jeannie would not accept Alex’s suicide and expected him to come home at any time. Also, for several months she pushed many of her close friends away!
  • Anger– as the realty of the loss settles in, anger may occur, directed at one’s self, one’s loved ones or someone or something else. This is often linked to blame, which becomes intense when linked to a suicide (see Suicide).  Why wasn’t I there?  If we hadn’t done so and so it could have been prevented. If the doctor had diagnosed the disease sooner!  At this stage, there is a fork in the road to healing your broken heart.  Go the right way (see below) and you will journey on into light and love.  But, if you go the wrong way, you will journey into darkness and hatred. Jeannie journeyed the wrong way and it took her many years to recover!
  • Hatred and Bitterness– this is a very dark and dangerous road to take and should be avoided as all costs. Like Miss Havisham, in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, as well as yourself, many people will be severely damaged if you go down this road.    Refusing to accept the reality of the terrible loss you’ve incurred, you want to relieve your pain by hurting other people, especially those who love you and are close to you.

For two years after Alex’s suicide, Jeannie hated herself and she hated me.  Initially, she hated God too but this turned to unbelief – she couldn’t accept that a loving God that she had been serving for 24 years could have allowed such a terrible thing to happen to our family.

  • Depression– This will probably also occur along the dark and dangerous road after taking the wrong folk. It comes as a dark dark cloud that blocks out the light.  The ability to reason goes and hope quickly dims as well.

Jeannie was in deep depression for a long time after Alex’s suicide and, but for the grace of God, our beautiful marriage would have ended and she may well have taken her own life!

  • Healing – in this life, you never get over the loss of a loved one, but you can journey on successfully, turning the terrible pain into something that will bring healing and comfort to others! See Healing your broken heart below.’

 Words from Julie

For me personally, one of the stages of grief that I stayed stuck in for a while after my attempted suicide (see below) was denial.  I didn’t want anyone to know it happened and I wanted to pretend that I did not try to take my life or that I was sick and needed help.  I was in denial that my relationship was over.  I was in denial that my friends and family almost lost me. It was a hard stage for me to move past to receive healing.  I did not want to call it an attempted suicidefor years and did not want to share it in my story when I would speak at various churches, conferences, and retreats.  I even convinced myself it wasn’t technically an attempted suicide since deep down I really didn’t want to die and it was instead a loud cry for help.  When I would speak I would just say that I use to struggle with depression and anxiety and how Jesus redeemed my life, but I still had a lot of shame and embarrassment about the attempt so I kept that secret.  Being a leader in a church and working in full-time ministry, I feared judgement or that others would be worried I couldn’t be a good leader with this painful detail of my past.  It has been a long healing journey, but just a few years ago the Lord started speaking to me very loudly that he wanted me to start sharing this part of my story and that it was going to bring me and  others hope, healing, and freedom.  He lifted off the burden of shame I had still been carrying around and I started to freely and openly share about my experience with suicide in 2014.  I am no longer in denial and accept that this is apart of my story that God is using for good and I am thankful that I am able to share in a way that brings people closer to Jesus.

The Biblical Stages of Healing

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

When Jeannie and I were in our darkest hour, the Lord showed me the Biblical stages of healing found in the following scripture from Is 61:2-3:

‘To comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to:

  1. bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
  2. the oil of joy instead of mourning, and
  3. a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair.’

The first stage is the battle or conflict that takes place in the mind (the crown is placed on your head).  For several years after Alex’s suicide, Jeannie was covered in ‘ashes’.  Her mind was filled with negative thoughts – blame e.g. why didn’t we see it coming?, why didn’t God rescue him? etc., hatred (for herself, me and God), unbelief (she lost her faith for two years), and hopelessness (what is the point of living!).  And then, bit by bit, her thinking started to change.  She started to read scripture again and to share them with me.  I knew she had a breakthrough in her thinking when she said to me one day – ‘You know Gerard, I am thankful…!’  I cried because she had come a long way from saying, ‘I wish I’d never been born!’

The second stage has to do with allowing the Holy Spirit to have access to your inner being.  Yielding to Him.  It involves surrendering the grief and mourning to God.  Sometimes you might feel guilty for starting to live a normal life again.  You may feel you’re forgetting or letting your loved one down.  More and more, Jeannie started to allow the Holy Spirit to flow in and through her and she received some amazing words from God.  She joined me in meeting and having sweet fellowship with our dear friends George and Judy Kohl.  And the joy started to flow!!  Again, I cried.

The third stage is the surrender of the will.  It’s a willingness to say to God, ‘I may not understand why you’ve allowed this terrible thing to happen to me but I’m going to trust you anyway!’  This establishes the Lordship of Jesus Christ over your life.  Job said, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.’ 13:15. The opposite of despair is hope and when we surrender our will to God, hope arises for now and eternity.  Jesus is lifted up and the natural outcome is praise.  The tears would often flow when I saw Jeannie lifting up her hands in praise and worship to God in the little house church we ran with Gorge and Judy.

Is God there?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

Some of the most difficult things to wrestle with in the terrible pain of your loss are the questions, especially those concerning God.  ‘If God loved me so much, why did He allow this to happen?’  ‘Where was God when I needed Him the most?’  ‘I thought He promised that no harm or evil would happen to me?’

These questions are very normal and I encourage you to wrestle with them because:

  • The great men and women of faith in the Bible wrestled with God over these very questions;
  • Half of the Psalms are laments, asking, ‘why God?’;
  • This may be hard to understand (you’ll have to trust me for now on this one – see the scriptures below) but God is hurting more than you are about your pain!;
  • God wants you to come to Him with your pain – He can deal with your anger, pain and disappointment. He wants you to share it with Him;
  • I have had many many times of the deepest weeping with God in which I off loaded my pain and questions on to Him; and
  • It’s very healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically to share your pain with God and others and, yes, that may include some shouting and ranting and raving!!

You’ve arrived at the fork in the road that I mentioned above.  Your choice at this point will determine whether you journey on into triumph and light or into darkness and depression.  I can assure you that Satan is doing all He can to persuade you to take the road into darkness.

You’ve arrived at the point Jesus was at before He went to the Cross.  Knowing what was about to happen, He was in absolute unbelievable agony.  The cup He had to drink was incredibly bitter and He asked the Father if there might be another way!!  And then He made the decision that God is asking you to make!  Will you surrender all your pain and suffering, your very life, and say with Jesus, ‘nevertheless, not what I will but what you will!’

One day, you will understand why God allowed your heart to be broken.  You may not see it now; in fact it makes no sense to you at all!!  But, will you trust God in the midst of your pain and suffering?  Like Jesus did, will you say, I surrender my life to you God and I ask you to come and give me the grace to journey on with you for your glory and your honor.  This is what it means to take up your cross and follow Him.  And, when you do this, you release from your life more of His Kingdom and love to drive back the darkness in this world.

Choosing to surrender your pain and suffering to God will probably not take it away (although He does give us the grace to journey on with it).  Jeannie and I often have intense pain in missing our beautiful Rebecca and precious Alex.  But, when the pain comes, we try to make a conscious decision to rededicate our lives to Christ.  Some days are easier than others!!’

Examples of people in the Bible who suffered bouts of depression

Words from Julie

God is with you.  He will never leave you.  You are never alone.

When I was in my darkest days of depression right after my suicide attempt (see below). I would just stay isolated crying all day, I would muster up enough energy & strength to read scriptures in the book of Psalms.  I would read them over and over again and it brought healing to my depression.  These verses were so life giving, bringing a little light into the darkness, and reminding me that God was with me and I was not along.  One of my favorites to mediate on daily was:  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18.  This is a good verse if you are struggling with a broken heart as well like I was.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31–39, NIV).

Why does a loving God allow suffering in the world?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

You may ask, ‘why did God create an earth with so much pain and suffering?’  The answer is, He didn’t.  When He first created the earth and humans and all the animals, there was no death, or suffering or pain.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Gen 1:31

It was only after human beings rejected God and His ways, deciding instead to take on the role of god and to go their own way, that death and suffering and pain was released on earth.  Man’s rebellion against God affected everything including, humans, animals, plants, and the universe!

Thankfully, if you have received Jesus Christ as your savior, God has rescued you, and through eternity you will be with God in Heaven, where there is no more death, or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4).

‘Why though,’ I hear you ask, ‘did God create humans with the ability to reject Him and, in so doing; bring pain and suffering and death into this world?’  It’s because He wants a people who will choose to love Him and are willing to have Him as their God (and not themselves).  To find those people, there has to be free will.

How you exercise your God given free will, determines how you journey through this age and where and how you will be in the next age!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Why am I suffering?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy! Rest assured, God is working to bring good out of your suffering.  God will turn what is terrible and even evil, into something that will be good both for you and for others.

It may take you years to see and believe it, but God does have an eternal purpose in allowing you to suffer!

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37 to 50 gives us great hope in how God turns evil into something good.  After terrible undeserved suffering, Joseph goes from prisoner to Prime Minister of the most powerful nation on the earth (Egypt) and is used to save millions of lives!

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Gen 50:20

Every bit of suffering and pain you go through in your walk with God, He will repay one hundredfold both now and through eternity!

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Rom 8:18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor 4:17

The Cross is both the most horrific thing that has happened on earth and the most loving thing!

God gave His only son to rescue us for eternity!  And, it is only in the context of eternity that we can start to make sense of the suffering God may have called you to in this age.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross. Heb 12:2

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:18

You have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. Phil 1:29

Those who suffer according to God’s will should, while doing what is good, entrust themselves to a faithful creator.’ 1 Pet 4:19

Jesus said, ‘Anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.’ Luke 7:23

Advice for the Journey

Words from Julie

There is always HOPE in Jesus!  If you’re struggling with depression, I encourage you to keep seeking God, turn to His Word, pray, and find safe friends who want to encourage you with the truth.  I want you to know that there is power in Jesus’s name to even silence (shut up) the lies.  I want you to find the same Joy and Hope I did in Jesus and to have the courage to find a safe place and friends to share your inner struggles to gain the power back from the enemy who wants you to feel like you are alone.  I pray that you would know your true value and identity in Christ and that you are deeply loved.  The single most important thing I’ve learned in my healing is how to have a more intimate relationship with God and learning to hear His voice.  I, like many other people, use to focus too much on the clinical side of my healing, but I realized through my journey of healing that the most important thing is learning to hear Jesus’s loving, grace-filled compassionate voice of hope.

Experience

‘Words from Julie’:

One of the main questions people ask regarding suicide is Why?  Why did my child, parent, sibling, spouse, friend, or family member take their own life? Why? There are various reasons why someone will attempt or successfully commit suicide.  Some of the reasons could be they are depressed or struggling with another type of mental illness, loss of hope, frustration or fear, heartbreak (see Brokenhearted), in chronic pain (such as terminal cancer), impulsive, psychotic, crying out for help, drug addiction/substance abuse, eating disorders, traumatic experience, personality disorders, bullying, unemployment or financial struggles, marriage (see Marriage) or relationship issues, or they simply made a mistake.  These are just some of the top reasons and everyone’s experience with suicide is different.  I humbly share my story and experience with suicide below in hopes of connecting with those who are in pain and suffering in this way.

My Story is outlined in the following video:

7min- “Julie’s Story of How She Overcame Depression, Anixety, and Suicide”

My written story 

Perfectionist at school.Played college volleyball.Went to New York City to model.  Life seemed perfect on the surface, but she almost died.

My name is Julie Davies and I have been happily married to the most amazing man for 10 years.  We have two beautiful little girls.  I am so blessed and grateful for my life; however it wasn’t always like this.  At one time I thought I could never be used by God in my brokenness and never knew the power I had in Jesus to say shut up to the negative thoughts in my mind.

As a child, I was very driven and ambitious, competitive, and wanted to be the best at everything.  I looked for love and affirmation in all the wrong places.  Addicted to achievements and success, I accomplished a lot at a young age and everyone probably thought I was happy.  I was good at pretending everything was fine even when I was hurting on the inside.  I was a straight-A student, leader of many groups, an all-around athlete, high school valedictorian, went on to become a runway and print model in Chicago and New York and received a full-ride Division I college volleyball scholarship.

Many of these accomplishments were about me trying to earn people’s love.  It never worked because I was riddled with anxiety on the inside.  Secretly, I was battling low self-esteem, self-hatred, depression, performance anxiety, perfectionism, suicidal thoughts, guilt and shame.  Because of the stress and pressure, I had chronic migraines.

I hated myself and was terrified people would find out who I really was which made me feel like a phony. Not even my best friends knew how much I was hurting.   As a result, I suffered alone and my depression and anxiety went untreated for years.  Often, I thought about ending my life.  Suicidal thoughts got worse and worse.  Secretly, I would act out sexually, getting drunk, and doing other very self-destructive things to try to numb the pain.  It was a vicious cycle.  I would be good and happy until something didn’t go right or a break-up happened with a guy and I would spiral back into a very dark suicidal place again.

I believed in God and was crying out for help every day.  But I felt so much shame for my thoughts that it was hard for me to experience God’s presence and grace. Instead I believed so many lies from the Devil and looking back I know He was trying to destroy me by the constant voices telling me it would be better if I died. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Your Enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   That was happening to me and I began to feel so miserable that I believed the enemy’s lie that it would be better to die than endure the pain.

On the night of March 19, 2005 at the age of 23, I attempted suicide at my ex-boyfriend’s apartment by downing as many pills as I could find with a huge bottle of alcohol.  (Thankfully, there weren’t too many options in the place, otherwise it could have been way worse.)   We had been madly in love, and I really did feel like this was the guy that God wanted me to marry, but hidden sin in our relationship began to poison us and ended up breaking us apart.  I felt so much shame. The breakup felt like God was punishing me for all my mistakes in the relationship – that was why I couldn’t have what I wanted. The night we broke up, I felt a complete loss of control over my pain, an all-encompassing self-hatred, and the rejection and abandonment became too much to bear. When you put a relationship up so high above God it feels like a death when it’s over.  I couldn’t stand up against the weight of the pain anymore. I remember when I was swallowing the pills, I even said aloud,

“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” But, then, I heard a dark, oppressive voice whisper back, ‘But you must do it. It’s the only way out.’  So much of what I heard and felt in that moment was oppressive and heavy – the pain was never going to end, and I was never going to be good enough to be loved. Even though I was a Christian, all I heard that dark night was the lie over and over again: God doesn’t love you.

Looking back, I know I really didn’t want to die that night, but I just wanted the pain to go away as fast as possible and was completely hopeless and humiliated for the way that I handled the break-up. Some of his friends had even called me a “crazy ex-girlfriend,” which I honestly never thought I would be called in my life, considering I had always been a people pleaser and wanted everyone to not only like me but love all of me. I just wanted to run away, and since I believed in Jesus, I thought heaven sounded way better than earth.

Thankfully, my ex-boyfriend knew I was not in a good state of mind the night he left so he called one of my good friends and prayer partners from church to come check on me.  She called and called but got no answer. Worried, she came over and arrived as I was going in and out of consciousness.  She called the paramedics in time to rush me to the hospital and, in the emergency room; they pumped the poison out of my stomach.  It was brutal and painful, and when I came back to myself the next morning, all I felt at first was more shame and embarrassment.  Then, inexplicably, a peace came over me throughout the day, and I felt so relieved and free that I didn’t have to hide anymore; my pain was now out in the open. The world could see the depth of my sadness. I felt God’s presence and sensed that one day He would use this pain for good.  From the days that followed, I began to see life differently. I was grateful for who God had created me to be.  I no longer wanted to die when circumstances seemed hopeless, and I understood pain was temporary, but more than that, I could turn to Jesus to comfort me, no matter how deep my sadness.

God saved my life.  I’m forever grateful that God intervened and that I’m alive today.  He transformed my life through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Looking back, I now understand that I did not really want to die that day, I just wanted the pain to go away.  It’s scary to think that if I had been successful in my suicide attempt, I would have missed out on this amazing life God has given me:  my husband, my daughters and now a ministry encouraging young people that they can hear God’s loving voice which will heal them and with God’s help, they can shut up the enemy’s lies.  I still battle depression and anxiety from time to time, but I don’t go to that terrible place of wanting to die.  I don’t turn to destructive things or stay in hiding, but I turn to God, His Word, prayer, and safe friends who want to encourage me with the truth.

I want you to find the same joy and hope I did in Jesus and to have the courage to find a safe place and friends to share your inner struggles to gain the power back from the Enemy who wants you to feel like you are alone.  I pray that you would know your true value and identity in Christ and that you are loved just the way you are.  I would love to hear your story and pray for you if you want to connect with me (julie@sayshutup.com)

Will I ever know love, joy and hope again?

Yes, you certainly can have love, joy, hope and peace again.  You may still be struggling with suicidal thoughts or maybe grieving the loss of a loved one to suicide, but you can have sorrow and joy at the same time!  Your soul can have peace knowing that all is well and, in Christ Jesus, you will see your loved one again.  Even in the grieving, the Holy Spirit causes supernatural joy to well up from within.

‘Joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God,’ Amy Carmichael

‘In acceptance there is peace.’  Amy Carmichael

‘In quietness and trust is your strength.’  Is 30:15

Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. 2 Cor 6:10

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13

How can I get through each day?

(The following words were written by Gerard Long in his section on the Broken Hearted)

Courage is your best friend at this time.Courage to keep going and not give up.Courage to go to the throne of Grace (see below). Courage to love, to keep moving forward, to embrace your grief and continue on your journey!

Some days are going to be very very hard.  In the midst of terrible suffering, the Apostle Paul said, ‘we live in the face of death!’  But, I want to share with you the key to journeying on in the most difficult circumstances.  It’s a key that all the great men and women of God have known through the ages.

There is a place where you can receive everything you need to journey triumphantly through your day – love, comfort, strength, courage, peace, joy, wisdom, provision etc.It’s called the throne of grace!  It’s God’s throne room and it’s where He will impart to you all that you need for every day.  The provision is from the victorious life of Jesus and it’s imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.

I go to the throne of grace every morning and through the day and I spend time with God in friendship and fellowship and I receive from Him supernatural love and power for victorious living.  I don’t always feel like going to the throne of grace but I’m so grateful when I’ve broken through the inertia and I’ve spent time with God. God speaks to me in a still small voice within and His words to me quicken my spirit.  I read His word (the Bible) and sometimes a friend will send me a scripture or a message.

Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me.Jer 15:16 (TLB)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever.  Ps 73:26

On a very practical level, try to find a rhythm in your day.  Establish times when you can put your grief down.  After Alex’s suicide, Jeannie worked part time for four years looking after two young boys who needed special care and attention (she is gifted in this area).  The work was a distraction from her grief.  She had to be disciplined in going to work and she had to focus when she was there.

God has given you your friends and family to help you in your time of need.   After Rebecca died, there was an outpouring of love and comfort on Jeannie, Ben and myself from our friends and family from all around the world.  It felt as though God was holding and hugging us!  In fact, He was, because scripture teaches us that the body of Jesus on earth is made up of everyone that has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

‘Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.’ 1 Cor 12:27

Should I take medication?

Words from Julie

I believe God can heal in many different ways. He can heal you through prayer, the Bible, good Christian counsel, through community. He can also heal through therapy and medication.

There are various opinions on medication and a lot of Christians have strong opinions about it. I am someone who has found it very helpful and healing for others and me as well. I believe God can heal depression supernaturally and that he can heal completely where someone doesn’t need medication, but until then it’s ok if that’s the healing He has for someone right now. Having said that, finding a good psychiatrist (preferably Christian) is critical because meds for all people (especially teens) must be carefully monitored and selected.

I was mentoring a young college student who was feeling shame and sadness about having to take medication and worried it wasn’t biblical. She had seen a huge improvement in her health and healing, but was worried about what others Christian’s might think. I encouraged her that God was using her to bring people to Jesus and she was glorifying Him in her hurt so to find freedom and give thanks in that and to look at it as one way that God was bringing healing to her life. I pray that one day He will heal her completely and supernaturally where she doesn’t need medication, but until then let’s give thanks for the healing that has begun and ask for complete restoration and renewal of the mind, body, and spirit.

Where to find Help

We recommend you ask trusted friends in your church or community to advise you of the best local help for your particular grief and suffering.  Try and get two or three different opinions before settling on where to go locally for help.  Your church and doctor can help you and some churches (not necessarily your own) have excellent counselors.  Jeannie saw two excellent counselors from our local church over the years and they gave her some wonderful help and guidance.

Right now, I would invite you to ask God for help finding the right safe people and resources that will help you.  No one knows you like Jesus.  No one wants to see you healed, free and happy more than Jesus.  So, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind safe people who will help you hear God’s voice and shut up the negative and dark voices:

“Jesus, give me eyes to see myself like you see me.  I take authority over my mind in Jesus’ name.  I put the helmet of salvation over my mind and I forbid the Enemy from speaking to me right now.  Lord, bring to my mind people who might be able to help me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Helpful websites:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) www.aacap.org

American Association of Suicidology (AAS) www.suicidology.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention www.afsp.org

Glover, Beryl S. and Glenda Stansbury. The Empty Chair: The Journey of Grief After Suicide.

Hsu, Albert Y. Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One’s Search for Comfort, Answers, and Hope.

Lewis, C.S. A Grief Observed. 

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)  www.nami.org 

National Mental Health Association (NMHA) www.nmha.org 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Suicide Prevention Resource Center www.sprc.org

The Centering Corp (Grief Resources):  www.centering.org

Yancey, Philip. The Question That Never Goes Away (Why). 

Additional websites:

https://www.qprinstitute.com -Practical and Proven Suicide Prevention Training

http://www.goodtherapy.org/ – Helping people find therapists.  Advocating for ethical therapy.

www.christiansuicideprevention.com

www.crisistextline.org

Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via the medium people already use and trust: text. Here’s how it works:

  • Text 741-741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.
  • A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds quickly.

The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

How to help a friend in crisis?

If a person tells you that they are suicidal (or have a plan to hurt themselves or someone else) these are some ideas about what to do:

  • Tell them that you know the pain feels like it will go on forever, but there is hope.
  • Say this: “I care about you. I don’t want to lose you. This problem is too big for me to help you with, so I need you to go with me and tell a safe adult right now.  Who would you like to tell?”
  • If they won’t go, say “I understand you want to keep this private, but I can’t leave you alone so I’ll need to tell a safe adult who can help.”
  • Do NOT tell other friends or put on social media.
  • Don’t try to figure out if they are really serious. Remember this isn’t a time to worry about loosing their friendship.  This is about saving a life.
  • Refer them to the sayshutup.com website and book if they are an adolescent where they can text a safe counselor right away (CTL or National Suicide Prevention Hotline, Lantern or K-Love)

If you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of killing himself or herself:

  • Do not leave the person alone. If possible, ask for help from friends or other family members.
  • Ask the person to give you any weapons he or she might have.
  • Take away or remove sharp objects or anything else that the person could use to hurt himself or herself.
  • If the person is already in psychiatric treatment, help him or her to contact the doctor or therapist for guidance and help.
  • Try to keep the person as calm as possible.
  • Call 911 or take the person to an emergency room.
10 things you should not say to a Suicidal Person

Here are 10 common responses that can do harm. First, a caveat: In general, these statements can convey judgment and foster alienation. But, depending on the context, some people might respond positively to at least some of these responses.

  1. “How could you think of suicide? Your life’s not that bad.” Perhaps on the outside the suicidal person’s life does not seem “that bad.” The pain lies underneath. It can greatly help a suicidal person to feel understood. This sort of statement conveys disbelief and judgment, not understanding.
  1. “Don’t you know I would be devastated if you killed yourself? How could you think of hurting me like that?” Your loved one already feels awful. Heaping guilt on top of that is not going to help them feel soothed, understood, or welcome to tell you more.
  1. “Suicide is selfish.” This inspires more guilt. Two points are important here. One, many people who seriously consider suicide actually think they are burdening their family by staying alive. So, in their distressed, perhaps even mentally ill state of mind, they would be helping their loved ones by freeing them of this burden. Two, isn’t it a natural response to excruciating pain to think first of helping oneself escape the torment?
  1. “Suicide is cowardly.” This inspires shame. It also does not really make sense. Most people fear death. While I hesitate to call suicide brave or courageous, overcoming the fear of death does not strike me as cowardly, either.
  1. “You don’t mean that. You don’t really want to die.” Often said out of anxiety or fear, this message is invalidating and dismissive. Presume that the person really does mean that they want to die. It does more harm to dismiss someone who is truly suicidal than it does to take someone seriously who is not suicidal, so why not just take everyone seriously?
  1. “You have so much to live for.” In some contexts, this kind of statement might be a soothing reminder of abundance and hope. But for many people who think of suicide and do not at all feel they have much to live for, this remark can convey a profound lack of understanding.
  1. “Things could be worse.” Yes, things could be worse, but that knowledge does not inspire joy or hope. I compare it to two people who are stabbed, one in the chest, one in the leg. It is far worse to be stabbed in the chest, but that does not make the pain go away for the person stabbed in the leg. It still hurts. A lot. So even if people who think of suicide have many good things going for them, even if their lives could be far worse, they still experience a seemingly intolerable situation that makes them want to die.
  1. “Other people have problems worse than you and they don’t want to die.” True, and your loved one may well have already considered this with shame. People who want to die often compare themselves to others and come up wanting. They may even feel defective or broken. Comparing them to others who cope better may only worsen their self-condemnation.
  1. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I do know people, especially teens, for whom this statement was tremendously helpful. It spoke to them. But it also communicates that the person’s problems are temporary, when they might be anything but. In such a situation, a realistic goal for the person might be to learn to cope with problems and to live a meaningful life in spite of them. The other problem with this statement is it conveys that suicide is a solution – permanent, yes, and a solution. At a minimum, I recommend changing the word “solution” to “act” or “action,” simply to avoid reinforcing that suicide does indeed solve problems.
  1. “You will go to hell if you die by suicide.” Your loved one has likely already thought of this possibility. Maybe they do not believe in hell. Maybe they believe the god they believe in will forgive their suicide. Regardless, their wish to die remains. Telling them they will go to hell can exacerbate feelings of alienation.

(10 things not to say to a suicidal person: www.speakingofsuicide.com)

What does the Bible says about evil?

(Section from “shut up” (silence the negative thoughts) book)

Many teens I encounter are suffering from depression or anxiety, and they don’t understand that they can feel better.  If you think you might be suffering from anxiety, depression, sadness or hopelessness, please know this:  you can be happy again.  These feelings are temporary and there are many things you can do to move beyond these hard feelings to happy feelings like joy, happiness, peace and love.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

What are the four voices inside your head?

  • Other people’s voices (can be good or bad)
  • Your own voice (can be good or bad)
  • The enemy’s lying voice (always negative, bad and destructive)
  • God’s voice (Always good)

What does your enemy’s voice sound like?

There is good and there is evil in this world.  That may seem like an obvious fact to you (and others in your generation) but many adults don’t believe that “evil” is a real thing.  People don’t want to believe this is true.  My experience talking with young people today is that they totally believe that there are forces of good and evil in our world.  My ministry team has received input from over 300 teens and young adults (age 10-24) about this very issue and 92% of them say they believe in the reality of good and evil forces in the world (see statistics from our shut up research, page).

Not only that, many young people have privately told me that they think it’s pretty ridiculous when therapists claim that mental illness fully explains the epidemic of teenage suicide we are witnessing today.  In fact, most young people I talk with believe that mental illness is only part of the problem.  While mental illness might explain some of the epidemic of pain our youth are experiencing, there are also forces of good and evil in the world that can escalate mental illness to a whole, darker level that many people understand.  Except your generation.  You get that there is something bigger going on.

In the Bible, we are told about a very real enemy.  Maybe you never considered this biblical belief that there is an enemy, who is evil and dark with a mission to lie, kill and destroy people.  I invite you to consider what I’m about to tell you.  Because if the Bible is true and you face a real enemy, it’s important that you understand how to protect yourself and your friends.

What does the Bible say about evil?

I could write a whole book about what the Bible says regarding the spiritual war we face in this world.  If you read the Bible cover to cover, there is no doubt that there are forces of good and evil.  The good news is that the Bible is full of hope and power to fight the enemy.  Let’s start by looking at some of the passages in the Bible that talk about spiritual warfare and the dark voices we might hear:

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. “  Ephesians 6:12

Here is what Jesus said about the enemy, Satan, and the kind of stuff that the enemy is always doing (Jesus is talking to a demon here by the way):

John 8:44 (NIV)

44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

(Then Jesus said this about the enemy)

John 10:10 (NIV)

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 

(1 Peter 6:8)

I’ve promised you I would be honest about my opinion and not tone things down.  So, let me tell you what I’ve experienced and my own thoughts about the enemy’s voice.  Do I think the voices telling young people stuff like  “shoot yourself, shoot someone else, jump in front of a train, kill yourself because the pain will stop, cut yourself because you deserve it” are caused entirely by mental illness.  No.

When psychologists tell us that mental illness is 100% responsible for the level of teenage problems we are seeing today, I disagree.  Do I think mental illness is part of it?  Yes. Have I confused you yet?  Hang on! As I’ve told you, I come from a family of medical doctors.  I’ve been helped by many good doctors and counselors in my lifetime.  I’m a big believer in good psychiatrists, doctors and counselors.  I like to tell people I have my own personal Ph.D in anxiety and depression.   So, I’m not one of those people who says there is a demon behind every bush.  At the same time, I know that most of our brothers and sisters in 3rd world countries have a world view that absolutely believes there are demons and evil forces in the world.  They would never question that often someone who is suffering from voices telling themselves to cut themselves or jump off a bridge is likely being tormented by an evil spirit.

Very few people are talking about the biblical truth that evil exists in the world.  If we believe the Bible is true, why aren’t we equipping you guys to stand against the enemy?  If we were sending you into Afghanistan to fight a war, would we send you in without any weapons to defend yourself?  No way!  So, I want to risk making some people mad at me.  I don’t care what people think about me, my call is to help your generation find healing and freedom in Jesus’ name.  I want to help you figure out these things for yourself.  If you have depression or anxiety, I will do my best to get you help with those problems.  If you are being harassed by a demon, let’s help you expose that liar and shut it up.

As I interview some of the best doctors and therapists I know, many of them (regardless of their religious views) privately tell me they think the suicide epidemic among your generation is not fully explainable by mental illness.

So, as I talk with hundreds of kids and interview therapists in various cities, here is what I believe to be true:  Yes, there is an epidemic of mental illness.  But when mental illness crosses over into other voices saying, “cut yourself.  Shoot yourself.  Jump in front of that train or off that bridge,” I believe that those dark voices are from the enemy.  They are the ones the Bible says have come to “kill, rob and destroy.” (John 10:10)

This makes me very sad.  Some mental illness is very hard to heal.  But shutting up the enemy?  That’s not hard at all if you know what to do.  We can help you shut up the dark voices with God’s power.  It’s just not that hard.

But I would also tell them this:  You don’t need to be afraid.  God will help you.  You don’t have to give Satan that much power in your life, and God can give you the power to shut those dark voices up in Jesus name.   I would also help them understand that the enemy is lying to them.

Just because you have mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean you will also have demonic oppression.  But it makes you more vulnerable (especially if you stay alone and don’t get help).

Now, this stuff can be a little freaky and get people all worried and scared about demons and darkness. I invite you to listen to the tremendously good news:  no demon has the right to harm you if you believe in Jesus.  In fact, when you put your faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside you.  That means you are never alone.  God is always with you, inside you, ready to protect you from anything dark or demonic.  When you invite Jesus to become your God and protect you, the Holy Spirit, who lives inside you, is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.  That Holy Spirit inside you is way more powerful that Satan himself, much less those stupid cock roach-like demons.

God loves you more than you could possibly imagine.  If you put your faith in Him, you are safe and protected.  He can heal you from whatever mental illness, pain and suffering you have endured.  God wants you to experience His loving Presence more in your life, and learn how to move in the spiritual power He has already given you.  How can you do that? The next chapter is about my very favorite voice.  Actually, it’s the most important voice you need to hear because when you hear this voice speaking to you, it changes everything.

The very most important voice that you need to hear in your mind is the loving voice of God.  Do you have any idea how much God loves you?  Whatever your personal experience of God’s love is so far in your life, I can promise you this:  God loves you more than you have ever experienced or imagined.  His love for you is real. It is deeper and bigger than your wildest dreams.  His love is able to overcome any obstacles you face in life.  More than any other thing God wants to say to you, He wants you to hear his loud call,

“I am with you.  I am for you.  I am trying to get through to you how much I adore you.”

The problem is that no matter how much we have heard people tell us, “God loves you,” we do not always believe it.  In fact, we hardly ever believe it.

When you hear God whispering messages of love to your heart, all of life is changed.  You have power to overcome the big problems you face because you know, not just in your head but in your heart, that God loves you more than you ever understood before.  The love of God becomes a very personal real experience, not just intellectually, but deep inside the soul.  None of us can fully comprehend it.  There is always more.  In the words of Ephesians, Jesus wants us to grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (3:18).  And here is the kicker: He wants us to know this love that surpasses knowledge. It is not just head knowledge that God wants us to have.  It is a deep, heart-level experience that the God of the Universe is head over heels in love with us.  When that happens, we have more strength to fight life’s battles.  We operate from a place of safety and in a cocoon of love, knowing that God is with us.

All of life would be different if we really, truly grasped how much God loves us and that we are not alone.  When the reality of God’s incredible love penetrates our doubts and fears, and takes root in our soul, we are filled with an “I can” attitude, instead of the “I can’t” one.  For when you know that He is with you, He loves you, you really can do “all things through [Christ] who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

More than any other message God wants to get through, not just to your head, but also to your heart, is how much He loves you.  In fact, I think that is the whole reason the Lord made it possible to hear the whispering voice of God through the Holy Spirit! Life is dang hard enough. We are no longer bound up by fear, pain, and disbelief when the God of all creation breaks into our world with a shout of His love into our daily life. Through the Holy Spirit, we can actually hear God’s whispering voice in a way that penetrates our hearts, so that we can exclaim, “God is REAL. He is HERE, and I never knew He loved me that much!”

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