PC-USA 1997-06-20 - This One is Kinda Different

Hi everyone. A friend of mine took his own life this past week, and I would like to take this opportunity to try, with God's help, to bring something good out of this. My friend saw no hope. There was hope there, but he just could not believe it. There is no doubt that he was in deep pain. Several recent accumulation stressors pushed him over the brink.

What I am asking of you all, is to look around you. See the people who are hurting. Don't wait for them to come to you. Ask how they are. If they say "fine," and you have reason to not believe that, push just a little. Say, "No how are you really?" Listen to their pain. Encourage them to get counseling if it's over your head. It might make a difference. In my friend's case, he had several friends who cared a lot and shared his pain. Unfortunately, it did not keep him from making that fatal decision. But sometimes it does. And I know that it did make a difference to him at times. And if the person mentions suicide, by all means take them seriously. Better to err on the side of needlessly calling the police. Once you do your best, however, do not blame yourself if that person does take his or her life. The "if onlys" are normal, but ultimately this is a decision they make, themselves. I am not a professional counselor. However, I have a list of suicidal symptoms (i.e. giving away treasured possessions), which I would be glad to share with anyone who wishes.

Sometimes we think we are supposed to go it alone, get along without help. As a friend of mine put it, sometimes, our "Yankee independence" keeps us from reaching out to others for help. But remember, God does not intend for us to live that way. He made us to need friends; he made us for interconnectedness. We all are on the receiving end sometimes, even the strongest of us. We all need replenishing relationships. We all need a place where we can safely go and be our complete selves. After all, if we all were supposed to function independently, God would not have inspired the Apostle Paul to write the words:

Rom 12:15 (NRSV) Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

If you are someone who is hurting deeply, please reach out. Believe me, there is hope, even if you cannot see it at this time. If you don't have someone local you can comfortably share with, please feel free to e-mail or IM me any time. And if you know someone who is in despair, please take it seriously.

Dear Father, please use us to bring hope to those who have none or little, and please give those who are in deep pain, the strength to reach out. And may they reach out to someone accepting and caring. May we see each other through Jesus' eyes. In His name, amen.