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Every year, 45,000 Americans die by suicide. And for every completed suicide, there are 25 more unsuccessful attempts. That’s over 1 million suicide attempts in the U.S. every year!
One reader shared, “In the last 2 years I have tried to commit suicide four times. Every time God stopped me either by literally stopping me or by it not working at all. I have battled depression for at least 22 years and probably longer. I picked up “Hope Prevails” and read the back cover. I don’t have to tell you what it is like to finally be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it not be an oncoming train. That is what your book has been for me. I’m not completely healed, but you have given me the knowledge I needed to start the healing process. You have given me the tools I need to get where I want to be. You have revealed to me the hope I need to get through this. I am eternally thankful to you. I don’t know if there are words to be able to express my gratitude. Thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough.”
I received the above message not long after my first book “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” released. Tears cascaded down my cheeks as I read of how God used my pain and brokenness to encourage someone else. It’s proof that God really will bring beauty for ashes, and that He never wastes our pain.
The strongest endorsement came from a reader who said, “Everyone who suffers or knows someone who suffers needs to read this book. If I had read it twenty-three years ago, I never would have attempted suicide!”
Years prior, I lay bed-ridden, unsure I wanted to continue living. I had been a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist for over twenty years, treating patients with conditions ranging from depression to dementia, prior to becoming deathly ill myself. The illness left me hurting not only physically, but emotionally as well as I plunged into a very deep, dark depression.
Even Christians get depressed and consider suicide
As the weight dropped off my body (I went from 113 pounds down to a skeletal 74 pounds), so did my joy. Bed-ridden for over five months, unable to work and treat patients because I was too ill, I began questioning my worth. If I could no longer be the doctor people went to for help, what good was I? Through my own physical illness and descent into depression’s valley, I came to realize that even Christians get depressed and consider suicide. No one is immune—not even the Christian doctor with all the education and alphabet soup after her name.
Depression and suicide aren’t due to a lack of faith or not praying enough. I was raised in the church—there every time the doors opened. I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a young child, and desired with my whole being to serve Him. If I couldn’t do that, what use was I?
I’ll never forget the moment I shared with my husband just how bad it was. As we sat in our mini-van in a grocery store parking lot (because I couldn’t bear the thought of my children seeing me like that), I sobbed for two hours as I shared about the darkness I experienced. In our two decades of marriage, nothing could have prepared him for what he would hear. I hardly recognized my own voice as I whispered, “I understand why people commit suicide…”
He knew the meaning behind what wasn’t spoken. “Honey, I don’t know what to do or say right now…” The air was so thick, I could hardly breathe as he continued, “Do I need to take you to a hospital?”
Depression is more than just a physical battle, but a spiritual one too.
I felt simultaneously guilty for laying such a heavy burden on him, but relieved that I know longer carried my secret alone. Depression made it a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, to shower and dress, even to take my vitamins…everything just felt “too hard.” I knew I was in a battle—it was more than just a physical battle, but a spiritual one too.
Scripture says, “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The enemy was surely trying to steal from my family and kill me, but I wanted the full, joy-filled life Jesus came to give. Having grown up with a depressed mother, I wanted more for my children, so they became my reason to fight.
Christine shared, “I finally got “Hope Prevails” and the “Hope Prevails Bible Study” and have been working with them. Michelle, all my life I’ve been at war with depression. Depression became worse when I became a Christian (weird right?). There was nowhere to go, no one understood. I was told I didn’t have enough faith, I didn’t pray enough, I wasn’t “Christian” enough. When I read the Letter to My Depressed Self at the beginning of “Hope Prevails,” I felt as though I had written it, word for word. I knew then I had found someone who truly understood and I was no longer alone. I still have a long way to go but thank you so much for the blessing of sharing your life story.”
Christianity does not insulate one from depression or suicidal thoughts
Being a Christian doesn’t insulate us from depression or suicidal thoughts any more than it prevents us from being diagnosed with cancer, or going bankrupt. It’s a battle for many. According to the CDC, 18.8 million Americans suffer with depression annually; globally, at least 350 million people suffer from depression. One in four will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Even if you are not one who suffers, you know someone who does—even other Christians!
What has changed for me from that day in the parking lot to now is that now I know how to fight back effectively. And now I share my story with others in my book, Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression so that others will know they aren’t alone and there is hope.
It’s the kind of book I wished I had read on my darkest days.
It’s my way of helping to take the stigma off depression and suicide, educate, and offer a hand to those still in the pit.
I can tell you what doesn’t help: Telling someone who is depressed or suicidal that they don’t have enough faith; Telling someone who is struggling to find a reason to live that they are being selfish; Telling someone who can’t find any good in their situation and who feels hopeless that there is always someone worse off than them. Any of these common responses only induce shame and guilt—more tools of the enemy of our soul to push us even further into the darkness.
Sometimes those contemplating suicide don’t really want to die
Sometimes those who contemplate suicide don’t really want to die—they just want their pain to end. If you’ve never been depressed or suicidal, it can be hard to understand and harder still to relate. You might find it helpful to read the related posts included at the end of this post. It’s lonely in the deep depths of depression’s darkness and can feel like a boulder on your back pushing you below the sea’s surface, making it difficult to do the simple things like brush your teeth, and the more vital things like breathe. Suicide is about releasing the boulder.
Someone who attempts suicide isn’t being selfish—they truly believe that ending their misery will relieve others of their burden as well. In the depths of depression’s pit, suicide actually seems like the kindest thing one can do for themselves, and for others.
A few years ago, a best friend’s mother, who was like a second mother to me, committed suicide. I was heartbroken. Not long after that, a friend committed suicide. I had no idea he was suffering in silence. Recent events including the suicide deaths of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, a local high school student, and a young pastor, have caused me considerable heartache.
Depression and suicide don’t have to be our destiny
I have a visceral response to hearing of others’ suicide. What could I have done? What should I have done? I also remember the pain I felt when I was convinced that suicide was my only option to escape my agony. I know the pain their families are enduring now. I wish they’d known my source of hope. The title, Hope Prevails, isn’t just a catchy slogan—it’s my core belief. I know the giver of all hope.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NLT).
I wrote Hope Prevails because I’ve been there, and I really do understand. And I want others to know that depression and suicide don’t have to be their destiny.
Pat sensed that: “I have to tell you that your book, “Hope Prevails,” is my all time favorite non-fiction Christian book EVER. When the Lord led me to buy it, I had no idea how absolutely perfect it would be for me. Just what the Doctor ordered! At first, I read through the whole book, all the time exclaiming, “She gets it! She really GETS it!” Then I began going through the book as my morning devotional, page by page, making copious notes and writing out the Scriptures that affected me the most. I couldn’t wait to contact you and tell you what a blessing you have been in my life. Thank you so much!”
The most amazing thing to me is that I now frequently get comments from friends, family, and even strangers that I’m always “so filled with joy.” Yet I remember the dark days when I wasn’t sure life was worth living, and I believed I must be joy-immune. I cringe at such memories, but I’m grateful for the compassion it instilled in me for others who experience such hopelessness.
I had believed so many of the enemy’s lies, and the notion that I was joy-immune was just another one of them. But once I really took hold of, believed, and stood on God’s word (e.g. “though weeping may last for a night, joy comes in the morning”), I began to experience more healing and freedom than I’d ever known before. Now I share that with others.
Tammy explained, “I was looking for a book to help my depression. I could not believe how many there were and my heart sank because it felt overwhelming just to look through them. I wondered, how can I possibly know which book is right for me? I was reading all the reviews for these books and came across the reviews for your book “Hope Prevails”. What struck me was that you used scripture from God’s word to send your message about depression. I chose your book because you used God’s word. I just finished reading your book and I cannot believe how close I am to God now and how inspirational this book has been for me. I believe it was written just for me – that is how much it spoke to my needs at this time. Thank you for listening to God and writing this book. It has given me a new hope that I did not have. I am going through a difficult time in my life, but now I know that I have nothing to worry about, but much to pray about!”
What I believe God’s stance on suicide is
My heart truly grieves for those who get to that dark hopeless place where they truly believe suicide is their only answer. I know that pain and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m frequently asked what I believe regarding God’s stance on suicide.
In the Bible, there are seven accounts of people committing suicide. We haven’t been told the ultimate fate of those individuals, and we don’t know their heart. BUT, there is only one sin that is unpardonable: blaspheming the Holy Spirit and denouncing Christ. When people commit suicide, it is usually an act of desperation and deception. Deception in that they believe a lie of the enemy that they (or others) would be better off without them. However, Scripture says that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God…that means even suicide. If one is a Christ follower, they will still go to heaven if they commit suicide. BUT, the thing is, that isn’t God’s best for them. Jesus came so that they could have abundant life. So, suicide is never God’s way, but He forgives and is near to the brokenhearted.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV).
If you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide
If you or someone you know is depressed or considering suicide, can I encourage you that you are not alone, and there are others who understand. God wants to bring you out of that pit, but we have to let Him because He won’t violate our free will. I have been there, and am now on the other side. Let me encourage you, hope does prevail!
“I saw you on television and bought your book, “Hope Prevails.” I have dealt with depression my whole life and this is the best book I have read on the subject. I just felt like I needed to thank you for writing this book and sharing your recovery from depression. Your help is rich with healing and very practical. Thank you for listening to God and sharing your story.” Regina
May I pray for you?
Nothing escapes your notice. You know the pain and heartache your children are experiencing. The enemy of our soul delights in convincing us that suicide is the only way out. But your Word tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He came so that we could experience abundant life. When the enemy whispers lies, would you please have your Holy Spirit speak truth to refute those lies and to draw your child, in all their pain and brokenness, closer to you. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Because I don’t want you to feel alone, like I did, here are some additional resources to help:
If you are currently feeling suicidal:
1. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line If you are currently feeling suicidal:
1. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Store these numbers in a place you can find readily when you need the support.
2. Make an appointment with your doctor. Many physical medical conditions can prompt depressive symptoms. It’s important to rule out a medical condition in order to help ensure you are treated properly.
3. Consider making an appointment with a licensed mental health professional. You can contact your insurance provider for a list of such professionals in your area, or consult NewLife.com for one of their professionals, or contact the American Psychological Association for a list of members.
4. Let a family member or loved one know how you are feeling so they can support you through this.
by texting HOME to 741741. Store these numbers in a place you can find readily when you need the support.
Make an appointment with your doctor. Many physical medical conditions can prompt depressive symptoms. It’s important to rule out a medical condition in order to help ensure you are treated properly.
Consider making an appointment with a licensed mental health professional. You can contact your insurance provider for a list of such professionals in your area, or consult NewLife.com for one of their professionals, or contact the American Psychological Association for a list of members.
Let a family member or loved one know how you are feeling so they can support you through this.
Depression and Suicide don’t discriminate but #HopePrevails