Fewer topics provoke more fear and trembling than suicide. Just the word itself fills one with sadness and heartache. It’s even more terrifying when friends, family and others we care about confide in us that they are struggling. How do you help someone that is in the darkest place of their life? As Christians, we know that healing and hope can be found with God. Though His guidance and help, we can provide aid to the distraught.
The Holy Spirit wants to remind us that the dark times we go through will not be forever. Our forever home is in heaven with Him, but God will bring us there when it’s the correct time. The sadness we feel on earth can be healed through various efforts such as therapy and medication, but one of the best ways to help others is to simply be a good friend. The fact that you want to help someone struggling with suicidal thoughts already shows how much you care. God can help you from there.
Make Sure They’re Safe
If someone confides in you that they are suicidal, the very first step is to make sure they are safe. Do not take what they say lightly in hopes that they won’t go through with their actions. Is the person alone at home? Go over and sit with them. Are they threatening to harm themselves or others immediately? Don’t hesitate to call for help from the police. Call their family, roommate, or someone else you trust so that you can have extra hands on deck. While they might be angry at first, you cannot help a friend who is struggling that is no longer here on earth. Take away any sharp objects, remove medicines or alcohol from the home, and the like to make sure they aren’t tempted or have options. Listen to what they have to say and keep any records if you can.
You can offer them the Suicide Prevention Lifeline if they are unwilling to talk to you. The hotline has professionals that can help guide the person back to some stability during these types of episodes.
Prayer is a great way for your friend to be reminded that God is with them through this difficult time. You can start by praying for hope, healing and happiness, and you can ask God to give your friend guidance during this time. From there, invite your friend to speak. Sit back and listen, and let them reveal their truth to God. You can encourage them to speak about the specific things that might be hurting them, tell them to share a list of reasons they are grateful, or ask what they want out the conversation with God. Be quiet as they answer, and let them open up to God. It can be very therapeutic and help give them some hope for the future.
In addition, you can pray to God for guidance. You probably don’t always know what the right thing to say is or how to help your friend. God, however, does. He is a fantastic teacher and will be able to work through you to give your friend hope. Ask God to help guide you through the process, and He will give you the knowledge you need.
Help Them Find Help
When someone is at such a low point in their life that they are having thoughts of death, it’s important that they try and get help. Some people will be very afraid to ask for help, because they are scared, feel they can handle it themselves, think they are worthy of help, and more. No matter the reason, you’re willingness to aid them might be the only thing that pushes them to make that leap. Gently ask and encourage them to get some help, and have options of how they can. You might even offer to help with specific tasks, like looking up therapists in the area or making a list of questions to ask a doctor. To someone with depression, these first steps can seem insurmountable.
Your church may even have options to help them. There are so many other Christians that are struggling with depression, so look for support groups if they are willing to go. There are also many Christian therapists that will incorporate God into their sessions.
There is a lot of confusion and stigma that surrounds depression and suicidal thoughts. This comes from misinformation and ignorance that can easily be solved by a little research. For example, your friend may be feeling ashamed or guilty about their mental illness struggles. However you can teach them that depression is a medical condition just like cancer or diabetes. It’s not a weakness or bad personality trait. They should never feel that they should “just get over it” because it’s a real chemical imbalance in the brain. We wouldn’t tell someone with a broken arm to “just deal with it”, so it’s not something we should say to someone struggling with their mental health. The more you understand about suicidal thoughts, the better you can understand the pain they are going through and how to support them.
Talk with others openly about mental health. There is so much stigma surrounding it that further spreads bad information. Open conversations about mental illness help erode stigma, and make it easier for people to ask for help. Furthermore, the more patients seek treatment, the more scientists will learn about depression, and the better the treatments will get.