Suicide (Latin suicidium,from sui caedere, “to kill oneself”) is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death.
• Worldwide there are more deaths due to suicide than to accidents, homicides and war combined.
• Over 34,000 people in the U.S. die by suicide every year.
• Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.
• Every day, approximately 95 Americans take their own life, and 2,370 more attempt to do so.
• A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the U.S. An attempt is estimated to be made once every 40 seconds. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
Unless you have personally suffered from someone you love committing suicide or have attempted to take your own life it will be very difficult for you to understand the pain, the agony and the completely utter feelings of desperation a suicidal person experiences. I suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies for many years. I cannot count the number of times I tried to kill myself – beginning at age 7.
You may have lost a child, a spouse, a friend or a co-worker to suicide. Suicide is on the rise. It is increasing exponentially. Why do people commit suicide? One word – DESPAIR. At some point life became too difficult, too burdensome, too disappointing, too painful. When the heartaches of life outweigh the hope of life – it seems as if death is the only answer. This person believes this is their only way out.
Because I counsel many people who have lost a loved one to suicide I am often asked the question “What could I have done to prevent it?” For a thousand people there could be a thousand answers. Without knowing what this person had suffered I could not give a blanket answer – it varies too much from person to person. “You did the best you could as a spouse, a parent, a friend.” For many, there would have been little that could have been done once the suicidal person had made up their mind to take their own life.
Yet I do believe there is one question that I wish everyone would begin to ask those who are going through a difficult time – “ARE YOU FEELING SUICIDAL?” Just by asking this question we allow “light” into the realm of darkness that is permeating this persons soul. By asking that one question the child, the friend, the spouse could begin to share the depth of their pain and sorrow. By asking that one question it could save thousands of lives.
Perhaps you might feel a little embarrassed to ask such a personal question to someone who is quiet about their feelings or someone who is just a co-worker. I would rather ask a question and be embarrassed instead of attending a funeral that I know could have been prevented. This question may not necessarily save the person’s life – but it could be the first straw removed from the camels back of heartache. It could open up a watershed of dialogue. It could let the person validate their feelings and begin to share how deep their pain is. “Are you feeling suicidal?” Who do you know that needs to have that question asked?
If you begin to ask the question and the person admits to suicidal thoughts and feelings it is important to find a trusted pastor, counselor or depression support group. These are such sensitive cases that I highly recommend that you thoroughly do your homework when helping someone find a support team. I have met too many counselors that have no more sensitivity than a bull in a china shop. Just because someone has a degree and considers themselves professional does not mean they are good at what they do. It is always best to find someone who has personally suffered from depression and suicide and can truly empathize with this person. Inept counselors and psychologists have caused much harm when they callously counsel in areas that they are not truly skilled at.
What is it like moments before a person commits suicide? From my own personal experience and the many attempts I made it was like this: I felt a tremendous sense of peace and joy. As difficult as it may be to understand for those who have never experienced these feelings, you must understand what the person has been searching for – a sense of relief from pain, a place of tranquility from life’s burdens and a respite from life’s difficulties. Each time I attempted suicide there came a fear of the unknown yet a quiet, giddy joy of knowing that all my pain would soon be over. It actually brought me hope to believe that soon my troubles would be coming to an end.
Whatever your journey with suicide may be I am praying for you. It is never God’s will for one person on this earth to commit suicide. Suicide is not of God. God has a plan for each of our lives. Today God wants to bring you hope, healing and a renewed sense of purpose in Him.
“Dear Lord, I pray for my friend who is struggling with suicide. In Jesus name I take authority over these wrong thoughts and command them to leave them now in Jesus name. Let them know that you love them, you care for them and that you have a wonderful plan for their life. Send caring, sensitive friends to encourage them through this difficult time. Let them physically feel your power and your presence today. Saturate them with your divine love. I now pray for my friend who suspects someone may be thinking about suicide. Give them the courage to ask the right questions. Let them lay aside fear and inhibitions and take their loved one under their wings with sensitive, loving care and concern. Help them to find the caring counselors to guide them to a place of healing and restoration.” In Jesus name we pray. amen