7 Things I Learned About Suicide, Mental Health and Prevention

6. Love well. Even when, and especially when, people are different than you.

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) shares “Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, discrimination, homophobia, violence, gender nonconformity, self-esteem issues, societal attitudes, family, religion and school, all are risk factors uniquely molded within the LGBT community.” Learn more about suicide and the LGBT community here.

Patheos shared findings from a UCLA study on LGBT people and suicide. “A new study finds that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGB) who sought mental health treatment from health care providers were no less likely to attempt suicide than LGB people who did not seek any treatment at all, but seeking help from religious or spiritual sources was associated with higher odds of a suicide attempt.”

Shame won’t heal, but love will.

One mom bravely shared her story with Rachel Held Evans. “The church that baptized my son, that promised to love him no matter what, abandoned him when he came out. They tried to force him to change. But he can’t change. It doesn’t work like that. We’re proud of him and we love his new boyfriend. When all the other moms share exciting stories about their kids, I want so share exciting stories about mine, but I can’t. That church is our whole community, our support-system, but we feel like ghosts there, like outsiders looking in.”

If Jesus was pastor at your church, how do you think he would respond? I think it would look more like coffee across the table with someone than one way preaching or declarations. I think He would want to hear their story, their struggle and pain. He would speak truth with great love. He would walk alongside them not to condone their choices, but to cultivate their worth.

This is complex. Love is complex. Let’s be known for our love and kindness, even when and especially when we have different viewpoints and life experiences than another.

7. Finally, it’s important to know how to help someone who is suicidal.

The AAS shares warning signs of suicide. However, we understand it’s not always obvious like the New Orleans pastor who committed suicide after finding his name on the Ashley Madison list.

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline shares how to help someone who is threatening suicide:

  • Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
  • Don’t dare him or her to do it.
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Learn to be aware of their feelings when in a crisis.

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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.