7 Things I Learned About Suicide, Mental Health and Prevention

3. Many churches are not educated or equipped to respond to and walk alongside people with mental illness (but they should be!). 

Ed Stetzer said “Christians care about those affected by mental illness… but he worries some Christians see mental illness as a character flaw rather than a medical condition.”

“They forget that the key part of mental illness is the word ‘illness,’” Stetzer said. “In a typical evangelical church, half the people believe mental illness can be solved by prayer and Bible study alone.”

Let’s be educated and equipped so we can make a difference with compassion.

4. It is crucial to reach out to those who have lost a loved one through suicide.

“Suicide is devastating for families, friends and community members who are left behind. They may experience a whole range of emotions, including grief, anger, guilt, disbelief and self-blame. They may not feel that they can share these overwhelming feelings with anyone else. Therefore, reaching out to those who have lost someone to suicide is very important.” (Source: IASP)

Kevin Briggs is a retired California Highway Patrolman who spent almost 23 years patrolling the area around the Golden Gate Bridge where over 1,600 people have leapt to their death since its opening in 1937.

He has spent many hours just listening to the stories and struggles of those contemplating suicide as they stand on the bridge waiting to jump. He asked one man, “What was it that made you come back and give hope and life another chance?” And you know what he told me? He said, “You listened. You let me speak, and you just listened.”

Reaching out could be as simple as listening. Don’t underestimate the gift of presence.

5. Not knowing what to say isn’t a reason to stay quiet.

Brené Brown wrote, “When confronted with news of a stranger’s unimaginable pain – a suicide, an overdose, a protest for justice and basic dignity – we have two choices: We can choose to respond from fear or we can choose courage.”

When we stay quiet we reinforce the shame. Read this man’s very brave piece called Coping With Shame: An Open Letter to Dr. Brené Brown. We may not agree with his life choices, but we can step into his pain to understand the weight of shame and the cost of courage and vulnerability. It’s worth the read.

If someone you love is struggling or has lost someone, watch this video from Kay Warren on what not to say to someone who is grieving. It’s also helpful to understand the process of grief.

People don’t heal on our time frame. It takes time.

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Esther Laurie
Esther Laurie is a staff writer at ChurchLeaders.com. Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.