A little over a year ago, I found out about the passing of a close friend. It really shook me up when I learned about how it occurred, and it gave me the inspiration to motivate and empower women! While doing research, I came across some interesting statistics that pertained to this issue. I learned that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/). I also learned that 44,193 Americans die by suicide each year (AFSP.org). Here are some potential reasons why this may occur:
Not wanting to be a burden to anyone
Believing that suicide would stop their pain
Lacking the right perspective of their situation; potentially magnifying their circumstances
Exhausting 'all known' options and not knowing where else to go
Damaged self esteem
Not feeling loved
Have the feeling that they can't talk to anyone
Ashamed to discuss their problems with someone (possibility of being judged)
These numbers are very alarming, and have the potential to grow if the issue of suicide isn't addressed properly.
To anyone who has dealt with any of the situations mentioned above or to anyone currently dealing with them, I encourage you to be bold in your situation! The word bold can be defined as not hesitating or being fearful in the face of actual or potential danger. As a colleague said during a recent event, "Find comfort in your experiences." The reason God allows us to face difficult circumstances is because we possess the strength to handle them! We'll never know how strong we are until our strength is tested. One of the boldest things a person can do is reach out for help. A characteristic of a strong person is admitting when they are weakened. The easiest and most effective way to become strengthened is to seek God wholeheartedly. As The Good News Translation of Isaiah 40: 29 states: "He strengthens those who are weak and tired.” To the person feeling weak or fatigued, God has the ability to strengthen you!
He's also capable of providing you the necessary armor for the battle you're in. The Message Translation of Ephesians 6: 10-18 mentions the following: “And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
Outside of seeking God for peace, strength and restoration, I also recommend seeking encouragement and support from other people (counselor, friend, family member). To the friends and family members of anyone facing a tough season or situation, please BE AVAILABLE for them! You never want to give someone the impression that you're too busy. It can potentially make you unapproachable, and make the other person feel unimportant. One of the mentioned reasons why suicide occurs is an individual feeling like a burden to someone. Make it a priority to schedule time to have coffee or go catch a movie with a loved one. I recently read an article that states the average person spends five hours a day on their mobile device. That's thirty five hours a week! Half of this time could be used to check on or spend time with someone close to you. Spending this time together could mean the world to someone.
It's important to be aware of an individual's behavior. If you notice someone being a little off or something being different, address it immediately! I've heard people say "She posted something real strange on Facebook" or "I knew something was off with her" after something occurred with this person. We want to avoid this! Saying or doing something too late can create a feeling of regret and uneasiness. This is why all potential issues should be addressed right away. If you feel a person has a deeply rooted issue or one that you feel uncomfortable addressing, I recommend doing the following:
Make a suggestion to speak with a counselor
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.8255)
Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor for FREE, 24/7
Build and Better Your Relationship With God
Although the support from a counselor, friend, or family member is important, your relationship with God carries the most significance. God has to be the foundation of your life!
The Amplified Version of Matthew 7: 24-25 states the following: "So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
One reason that God has to be our foundation is because of life's adversity being inevitable. Similar to the floods and torrents coming and the winds slamming against the house in the text, what we face in our life may enter in the same fashion. As the text concludes, the house didn't fall because of being founded on the rock. We must learn to build this type of foundation.
I was asked prior to writing this, how does one build a relationship with God if they don't have one? The good news is that it doesn't cost anything, and it's never too late. God can restore anyone or anything! You are NOT too broken, and your situation isn't too difficult for God. We serve a God who isn't phased by our circumstances. Different ways to build and enhance your relationship with God include finding a church home, reading the Bible daily and praying (alone and with others). There are more ways to develop your relationship with God, but these are just a few of them. I'm aware that some individuals may lack a support system (family and friends) or the ability to afford the services of a counselor. This makes a relationship with God more vital. We also have to realize that family, friends, and counselors may not always be available, but God is! He also has the capability to give us the type of peace that the world can't offer. Peace can be defined as a calm of state of mind or freedom from disturbance. The Amplified Version of John 14:27 discusses the type of peace that comes from God: “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]” This is the type of peace that's needed to confidently embrace the adversity in our lives!
This blog was inspired by the lost of a good friend. She was an amazing person with an awesome spirit. Not only did I write this in her honor, I also wrote this to bring awareness to the severity of suicide. I realize that there are people who have lost loved ones because of this, and there are people out there who are currently dealing with a lot mentally and emotionally. To anyone dealing with the extreme adversity that life brings, I encourage to be bold and embrace everything that you are going through. Life may present great challenges, but you have a greater God within you! (See John 1: 4-4 NIV) You have the ability to do anything through Christ who strengthens you! (See Philippians 4:11-13 AMP) This includes overcoming the feeling of overwhelm, sadness, or any hurt that you're experiencing. Don't be afraid to seek help when necessary. Don't worry about being judged because anyone who truly loves you or has your best interest in mind won't judge you or consider you a burden!
Here's a resource for to seek additional support
To anyone that would like to become an advocate for Suicide Prevention, please refer to the website below to sign up! Let's take action and prevent suicide together!