—THERE ARE WARNING SIGNS—
There are warning signs. The first flag is a person who frequently talks about losing hope in their future. This may include using words and phrases like feeling hopeless, not wanting to live, feeling trapped, or a burden to others. Secondly, a person may show strange behavior such as mood swings, depression, anxiety, excessive and/or increased use of alcohol or drugs, isolation from family and friends, sleeping a lot, saying goodbye and/or giving away important belongings. Other concerns might be recent or past stressful events such as loss of a loved one, being bullied or abused, loss of a job or an educational setback, trauma from an assault, work environment or military service. Another factor is to determine if the person has a plan and the means to carry out their thoughts. For instance, the use of guns comprises over half of the suicides that occur in the United States.
Never dismiss someone’s pain. A major mistake that occurs in the church is to ignore the signs, suggest worry is a lack of faith, and that a person’s condition will simply pass through prayer. We certainly walk in faith. However, God gives us wisdom and provides support to address the challenges of life. In the 19th chapter of 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah had a moment where he contemplated suicide. “4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” His answer came in the form of an angel, who led him to places of physical rejuvenation where he would ultimately receive God’s spiritual restoration (vs. 5b-8).
You may be that angel to respond to someone in crisis. Let the person know that you care and want to seek professional help for them. Have a list of local Mobile Crisis Response Centers. Utilize the EAP, find professionally licensed counselors and encourage counseling services for others. Know who you can call with questions and to obtain other social services that the person may need. Call 911 if the situation warrants. Don’t be afraid to personally ask for help. Your life, and the lives of others may depend on it.
National Suicide Helpline Call 1-800-273-8255
EAP - call toll-free 1.800.252.4555 or 1.800.225.2527 or