Dear Dr. B,
A close friend has been suicidal in the past, and I’m concerned may be feeling that way again. I feel helpless to do anything. What can I do?
Concerned and Helpless
First, recognize that our words have power. Neither you nor your friend are helpless. Christ died to set us free, and because of that, Hope Prevails!
You did the right thing by reaching out when you felt in over your head. That’s exactly what I hope you will encourage your friend to do as well. In an acute suicidal condition, your friend (or you!) can have access to trained professionals by calling a suicide hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).
In today’s society, we often feel forced to hide our true feelings from others and put on a happy face either because we fear not being understood or accepted. So often we don’t really know what is going on behind the scenes in another’s life. I think of the suicide of Robin Williams as an example. His public persona was happy and humorous, yet beneath it all he battled deep desperation.
Your note suggested that you aren’t exactly sure if your friend is currently contemplating suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask. In my practice, people frequently say they are afraid to ask their loved one if they are suicidal because they don’t want to make them consider it if they aren’t already. Typically, asking someone how they are really doing won’t make them contemplate it if they aren’t, but it will show them you care.
For those in the pit of depression, it often feels lonely and feels like things will never change. Suicide may end that person’s pain, but friends and loved ones will then be left with immeasurable pain.
Encourage your friend to consult with their doctor as soon as possible. For some, that is a scary or embarrassing proposition. As a friend, you might offer to go to the appointment with them.
Encourage your friend to talk to a trained mental health professional. It’s hard for us to be objective when we are in physical or emotional pain. Just like parenting doesn’t come with a manual, neither does depression or anxiety. But a trained mental health provider can address the issues from professional experience, and make appropriate referrals if necessary.
If this is a close friend whose current emotional state is impacting yours, both you and your friend may want to consider attending a support group for additional support and encouragement.
As Christians, our hope is in the Lord. Consider searching the Bible for scripture which addresses your friend’s current circumstances, and verses that remind your friend of God’s truth and promises.
Pray for and with your friend. Scripture says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Praying with and for your friend is powerful. Faith comes by hearing, and just your friend hearing you pray for them may be what God uses to bolster their faith!
Assure your friend of your support. Feeling depressed and suicidal is often accompanied by feeling alone. We all want to know we are worthy, accepted, and loved. Now is a good time to convey that to your friend.
Think back to what comforted and encouraged you during difficult times in your life. 2 Corinthians 1:4 encourages us that, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” Comfort your friend in ways that have brought you comfort when you needed it.
Your friend is very lucky to have a friend like you who cares so deeply. On behalf of your friend, I thank you.
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
Hope Prevails and the Hope Prevails Bible Study are must-reads for anyone suffering from depression or knows someone suffering from depression.
Suicide is so unnecessary. Help also needs to be offered to those left behind from this horrific act.
The GriefShare program helped me immensely. It’s a support group/study where hurting people affected by suicide can find healing & hope. The journey can be hard to do alone.
Thank you for sharing this valuable resource. No-one needs to feel alone. Blessings to you.
Yes Robin, help does need to be offered to those left behind. It’s painful for both the individual whose suffering led up to it, and painful for the loved ones. God can meet every need if we will Trust Him.
I work with children and teens and this populations suicide rate has greatly increased, so I wrote a blog post “You can help prevent suicide” giving them concrete things to say and do when someone tells them they want to kill themselves. Here is its URL http://www.kaytrotter.com/can-help-prevent-suicide/
Excellent! I’m so pleased to have you as a colleague in the pursuit of mental health! Blessings!
Thanks Michelle, I would love to get together with you for coffee sometime esp since we live so close to each other.
I would definitely enjoy that Kay!! Let’s make a plan!
Such a hard subject to address, but all to prevalent in our culture. Great advice here!
Yes, Carol, it can be hard to address, but if we don’t talk about it, we can’t help put an end to it. Talking about it is the first step to breaking the stigma and shame of the underlying issues that contribute to suicide. Hope Prevails!
The more we speak up about mental health issues and let people know how to help, the bigger the net of support and understand that those people who suffer will find. So, thank you for helping to get the word out!
It is surely a passion God has given me. It’s not an easy one, nor a glamorous one. Some days it feels very lonely and isolating, but it’s my heart to provide help and hope to one patient, one reader through one blog post, one book, one speaking engagement at a time until the whole world hears and the stigma surrounding mental health is shattered and people are healed and set free-Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
This is so helpful. I actually run into this a lot. Sharing this all over the place. Blessings from “Espressos of Faith”!
Bonnie Lyn, please feel free to share it wherever and with whomever you think might benefit from the information. It’s my passion to provide help and hope regarding all mental/emotional health issues. There are so many who are hurting, and so many who don’t know how to help. I’m just one voice, but sharing will help multiply its impact and potentially save lives! Blessings to you, Dear One!!
Wow, what a powerful post! I greatly appreciate the wisdom and help that you’ve shared and I am especially thankful for the reference to God’s unfailing Word.
I’m truly grateful you shared this with Roses of Inspiration. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!
Thank you Stephanie. I have no wisdom in and of myself, but I do believe He grants wisdom liberally to those who seek Him and His word. His word is inspired and is living and active, still as appropriate for our situations today as it was when it was first written. I’m so glad you stopped by. I hope we see you back here again sometime! Blessings.
There comes a point when the person trying to help just can’t help anymore for their own mental health. Living with these kinds of threats is very damaging. Never knowing if the person is actually going to follow through. How often is there more to suicidal thoughts – like BPD? The person’s doctor just treats the depression but not the ‘bigger’ problem. I have had to just ‘let go’ and hopefully this person will get the help she desperately needs.
I want to tag on here so I can see the answer to this. I’ve come up against this before as well. Good question.
Aimee, I most certainly understand what you mean. I’m so sorry you’ve been in this situation. It is difficult for sure.
We are to love one another and we to support each other, but we are not called to be each others’ Holy Spirit. Nor are we responsible for another person’s behavior. I would most certainly always recommend in any situation that you pray first. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing, and to pray about everything but worry about nothing (Philippians 4:6), and when we are unsure of what to do, to pray for wisdom, and God promises to give it liberally. Then we are to leave the outcome up to God.
In my book about depression from a spiritual perspective, I discuss the spiritual roots to depression. Likewise, there are also spiritual roots to other diseases whether it be anxiety, BPD, or heart disease, and those roots are what contribute to suicidal thoughts. But the person who is experiencing those is the one who has to be willing to seek help and address them – you as the loved one can only support and encourage, but not be responsible.
I hope that helps.
Ultimately, it is because of Him that Hope Prevails!
Wow !!! Very good and powerful post this is great info so glad you shared. #homemattersparty
Thanks Laci! I pray it helps others! I hope you’ll come back to visit again soon.
Suicide is such a touchy subject and you approached this is a powerful and helpful way! Pinned! Thanks for sharing at Women With Intention Wednesdays! I look forward to what you’ll be sharing this week!
Suicide is a touchy subject…so too often we just don’t talk about it. Sometimes we need to do just that. Share some love and compassion, break down the stigma. I’m so appreciative that you would pin this for your readers, and I pray it offers help and hope to many. That’s my goal one patient, one blog post, one book, one speaking engagement at a time. To Him be the Glory. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
You’ve offered such valuable and godly counsel on a topic that is important to address. Thank you for linking up with us at Grace & Truth!
Thank you Jennifer. I pray it offers help and hope to those in need. Blessings.