Most people have had thoughts of ending their life. When you are grieving the loss of someone you love, or when you are lonely or afraid, it is common to think of it. But it is one thing to think about suicide and quite another to feel a compulsion to kill yourself.
Since my husband killed himself nearly two years ago, thoughts of suicide have been my frequent companion. Several times these thoughts have resulted in my going to the hospital for evaluation. Sometimes, but not always, I am also depressed when I feel this terrible compulsion to kill myself. I call these compulsive thoughts of suicide the Whisperer because it feels like someone is urging me to kill myself.
I have worked out a strategy to handle suicidal impulses. It isn’t a sure-fire solution but it does help.
First, I pray. I can find comfort and assurance in prayer. Reading the Bible and reading authors whose work I can trust also fall under this dictum of prayer. I find especially helpful a couple of books by Patrick Reardon, The Trial of Job and The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ. Understanding that Jesus was really human, that when he underwent temptation he felt tempted. When Satan took Jesus into the desert at the beginning of his ministry and told him to throw himself off the mountain because God would save him, we know that Jesus was genuinely tested. He wasn’t walking through it like playing a part in a film. He felt the temptation. This makes him a savior I can relate to. If you search back through my other posts you will find that Job’s trials helped me to understand the impulse to kill myself as a trial by God. God isn’t standing aside being repulsed by my urge to kill myself, he is loving me and giving me the spiritual strength to endure.
What if I can’t pray? Then I ask the Holy Spirit to pray for me as described in Romans 8:26. I also ask friends and fellow Christians to pray for me that God will comfort me and strengthen me. Send me a comment asking for prayer and I and others who read this site will pray or you. Not just once but every day.
Second, I do the things I love even though I don’t want to do them. This takes tremendous will. I love to hike and since I live in New Mexico near the Sandia Mountains I am able to hike when I want. It always helps. I come back restored to who I really am. Sometimes I go every day. Just knowing that I can go hiking the next morning gets me through those terrible nights with the Whisperer. I also take photographs when I hike and sometimes I go out in the city to take photographs in the evenings when the Whisperer afflicts me. Seeing through a camera lens changes my perspective and cleanses me of my own preoccupations with age, loneliness and fear. In the evening I go to places where people are shopping or eating in restaurants and take photos of faces and grouping that catch my eye. Amazing how purifying that is.
Third, I seek out people. Since I don’t have many friends, I usually go to a restaurant where I know the servers and talk with them. We just talk stuff. None of them know my problem. They tell me about their kids and problems with jobs and sick parents. Somehow caring about another person helps me to forget myself. It always takes an effort to get beyond myself but when I do I find it liberating.
Fourth, Send me an email at email@example.com and I will respond as soon as I get it. Let me know your telephone number if you want me to call you. Maybe we can pray and talk and that will help. If you don’t want to email me then call the national suicide hotline and they will connect you with local help. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
Just remember, Friend, that if you can make it until the morning or for a couple of hours you will see things differently. Whether you are lonely or afraid, abused or old. Whatever the problem, it won’t go away but it can get better. There are people who care.
I care and want to help you. I will pray with you, listen to you and give you a shoulder to cry on. Just don’t take that final step. You will be glad you didn’t and so will I and a lot of other people who read this blog.