Leadership and Suicide: When Ending It Seems Like the Only Way Out

4. You’re Most Tempted to Quit Moments Before Your Critical Breakthrough

You know what’s hard about a low season in your life?

You have no idea what’s ahead.

I didn’t. When you’re burned out, you can’t see a better future because all you feel is the present pain.

When I was most tempted to unclick my seatbelt and drive into that wall of concrete I had no idea our marriage would grow to be as rich as it’s grown. I had no idea that (as hard as parenting can be), I would get to have so many incredible moments with my sons. Finally, I had no idea I would finally come to some kind of peace with myself, peace with others and peace with God (it’s growing…and every day isn’t perfect, but still…).

And when I was at my lowest, I would have no idea that the next decade would include speaking around the world, writing books, blogging and podcasting for millions of leaders, and reaching all the people we’ve reached here at home.

I am convinced of this: You’re most tempted to quit moments before your critical breakthrough, whatever that breakthrough looks like in your life (including something as simple as sitting on the back porch holding hands with someone you love).

You’re most tempted to quit moments before your critical breakthrough. So don’t quit.

5. The Best Thing You Can Do With the Darkness Is Bring It Into the Light

So what do you do with the darkness you feel inside you?

Bring it into the light, that’s what.

Light dissolves darkness like love dissolves fear.

How do you bring the darkness into light? Well, for sure, pray about it. Bring it to Jesus, who is light.

But too many people stop there.

Here’s what you can (and should) do:

Tell someone 

This was hard for me. It is for most leaders, especially guys. My guess is you will resist because of pride. And pride may be something that led you to burn out in the first place. Swallow your pride and tell someone safe that you have a problem.

Whatever you do, don’t keep your suspicions of burnout or suicide to yourself. Nothing good happens when you’re isolated. The way through burnout is through community.

It’s tough, but telling someone is the first step toward wellness. When you admit your problem to others, you also finally end up admitting it to yourself.

If you’re married, tell your spouse, but don’t just tell your spouse. Your pain may be too heavy a burden for your marriage alone to bear.

Reach out. Please tell a friend. Tell your doctor. Tell your counselor.

Leaders, please break the silence, before the silence breaks you.

Get Help

Don’t just tell a friend, tell your doctor. Go to a good, Christian counselor.

If you’re hurting emotionally call The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Jarrid and Juli Wilson have been very public about Jarrid’s struggle with depression and founded Anthem of Hope. They have a live chat you can access, too.

Jarrid and I talk about his struggle with suicide and depression on Episode 162 of my Leadership Podcast.

A Deeper Conversation

Just know I’m praying for you and for every leader who’s struggling with depression and even thought for a moment about ending things.

Twelve years on the other side of my dark night of the soul, the suicidal thoughts are gone (hopefully forever) and hope again burns bright. I’ve never felt more alive, more grateful and more hope than I do now. Is every day awesome? Of course not. And any regular readers of this blog know that journey…I try to write as honestly and truthfully as I know how.

In addition to the paragraphs on my suicidal moments in Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences I do cover the subject of burnout in depth, along with six other issues people never really see coming: cynicism, pride, compromise, disconnection, irrelevance and emptiness.

It’s a gut-honest account of how those soft issues take out and take down way too many people, how to recognize them in yourself, and I outline practical steps on how to thrive moving forward.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about my book here. It releases on Tuesday, September 4. You can pre-order now.

What About You?

I hope this feels like hope and help to you.

I think this problem is far deeper than we admit, and we have to talk about it. While I was working on this post this morning, I got a random text from a friend (who didn’t know I was writing this post) telling me that two years ago, he felt like killing himself. Crushed me. I love the guy.

So please break the silence before the silence breaks you.

I’d love to hear more from you. What’s your struggle been like?

What’s helping you?

This article originally appeared here.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.