By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
For Christians and non-Christians alike, suicide is devastating and often happens unexpectedly. Since we don’t discuss this topic in society or church as often as we should, we can fail to recognize signs and symptoms that indicate someone may be considering suicide.
As Christians especially, we often feel a need to appear as though we have everything together, when we feel on the inside as though we’re falling apart.
Whether contemplating or attempting suicide have affected you personally, or your family or friends, this article offers help by way of raising awareness of the reality and signs of suicide so we can hope to help prevent this tragedy.
Those who experienced depression in the Bible:
Throughout the Bible, we encounter those who longed for an end of life. Some of these people include:
- Solomon: In Ecclesiastes, when regretting how he spent most of his life pursuing hedonism, wanted to die (Ecclesiastes 217)
- Job: After he’d experienced the tumultuous events where he lost his family, home, and good health, Job longed for death (Job 3:20-22)
- Jonah: Mad at God for not wiping out the Ninevites, he wanted to die (Jonah 4:8)
Although none of these men carried out suicide in the Bible, Christians can take comfort in knowing they do not fight these struggles alone.
We also have to keep in mind it affects our congregations and church leaders as well, as seen in this Gospel Coalition article. Whether someone works as a church greeter or church pastor, they may experience the signs and symptoms of suicide contemplation such as these five:
Sign One: Losing interest in what used to make them passionate
When someone deals with a heavy burden of depression, they often lose interest in activities that used to give them joy.
For instance, a worship leader who once played music with gladness now seems worn out and going through the motions each Sunday morning. If someone seems to have lost all their spark in what used to set them on fire, it could point to this sign.
Some other symptoms that accompany this tend to be lethargy, difficulty staying awake or going to sleep, a lack of interest in maintaining one’s health (from personal hygiene to eating habits), and difficulty concentrating or carrying out a single task.
Sign Two: Increase in substance abuse
When battling depression, one can often turn to something addictive to take the edge off or distract the mind from depressive or racing thoughts.
Often, people will put alcohol and drugs in this category. Those do apply, by all means, but we should keep in mind those are not the only addictive substances that can contribute to an increase in depressive thoughts. For instance, more time on social media has been correlated to higher rates of depression.
We may want to escape our realities through scrolling on Instagram or Facebook to keep our mind off our thoughts. But social media can often isolate us, make us feel alone, and lower our self-esteem.
If you’ve noticed someone spending more time with alcohol, drugs, on their phone, or with any other addictive substance, this could point to this sign.
Sign Three: Withdrawing and isolating
Depression destroys minds because it forces people to isolate themselves. Alone, they feel even more isolated and distant, and the vicious cycle continues.
If someone you know has become less active in certain activities, has made more excuses to be alone, or turns down most offers to meet up, hang out, or fellowship with one another, they may be withdrawing more.
Sign Four: Talking about being a burden to others
When someone experiences depression, it often makes them feel as though they have no value or are burdensome to those around them. Part of the reason a person may isolate themselves happens because they feel as though people just tolerate them.
Listen to how someone talks about themselves. Do they often self-deprecate and say they just cause problems for people? If so, they may be experiencing depression.
Sign Five: Giving away items of value
This sign often, out of the five, points to the clearest indication someone might be contemplating suicide. If someone wants to put an end to their life, they may begin giving away items that have a personal meaning to them.
Similar to a person’s will, they’ll delegate items of value to those around them in their life. A worship leader may give away a guitar worth thousands to a friend, for instance, with no prior warning or the friend not asking for that item.
If someone displays any of these signs:
Express your concern with them and ask them if they are experiencing potential thoughts or suicide or depressive thoughts. If they admit they have thought about suicide, stay close with that friend and talk about options such as calling the Suicide Hotline or to find a Christian counselor to help them.
Most places in the United States have a Christian counselor within a short distance, but if there is none nearby, consider some of these online options.
If you personally display these signs:
If you are contemplating suicide, please get the help you need right now. Call 1-800-273-8255, the national hotline, drive to the hospital, call 9-1-1, alert a family or friend, and do not be alone. Get whatever help you can right now. Below are some places you can call or reach.
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
To Write Love on Her Arms: http://twloha.com/find-help
Suicide hotlines available internationally as well, if someone, or yourself, do not live in the United States: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 400 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Marjan-Apostolovic