What can I do to help?
By Deacon Barney Lejeune
The list of well-known celebrities who have taken their own lives continues to grow. But, it would be a mistake to conclude that suicide is only a problem among high-profile individuals. Suicide is a problem in almost every community in America.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that from 1999 through 2016 suicides increased by 25 percent in the United States. Suicide does not discriminate; it strikes the rich, the poor, the young, the old, city dwellers and country people alike.
Suicide in America
No one knows why the number of suicides are increasing, but the headlines of numerous studies on depression, mental illness and suicide give insight into some of the factors that impact the suicide rate in America:
- Church attendance linked with reduced suicide risk, especially among women. (JAMA Psychiatry, 2016)
- There is a concerning relationship between excessive screen time and risk for death by suicide, depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts. (Clinical Psychological Science Journal, 2017)
- Teen sadness and suicidality linked to video game and internet overuse. (CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 2007 and 2009)
It easy for those who do not suffer the ill effects of depression or suicide ideation to say; “trust more in God,” “think happy thoughts,” “you are not praying enough,” or “things will get better if you just believe in God.” Many faithful Christian believers and even those serving in ministry suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide daily.
How you can help
What do those suffering with depression and thoughts of suicide need and how can we help? Many times, all that we need to do is to be present and to offer unconditional love. We don’t need to know all of the answers, we don’t need to solve all of the problems and we don’t have to give tons of advice; we simply need to be there and to listen. Galatians 6:2 tell us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NABRE) Some additional things that we may want to do to help someone struggling with depression are to assist them with their chores, prepare a meal for them or their family, or accompany them on appointments. But most of all, we simply need to be there for them—to be Jesus to them when they are most in need. We are to love and look after one another as Jesus loved; “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34–35 (NABRE).
Resources and emergency contacts
If you are suffering from mental illness, PTSD, depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia or substance abuse, don’t wait; get help today. Here are a few resources that you can call for assistance and some things that you can do to help you cope:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
- Call the Veterans Peer Support Line: 1-877-838-2838.
- Call the Veteran Combat Call Center: 1-877-WAR-VETS (1-877-927-8387) to talk to another combat Veteran.
- Call the Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS (800-773-6667).
- Make an appointment with your doctor. If you don’t have insurance or cannot afford the appointment, contact the Jacob Crouch organization at (337) 234-1828 for a list of free or low-cost services.
- Find somebody who will listen—contact a local church to find someone if you don’t know anyone. Remember, you are not a burden. Every life is precious and important in God’s eyes and the world is better because you are alive.
- If you have tried these other resources and are still struggling, don’t give up, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room!
Please visit the Jacob Crouch Suicide Prevention Services website (www.jacobcrouch.org) or call their office at (337) 234-1828 for a detailed list of counseling services, hotlines, private counselors or social media resources or if you are interested in donating or volunteering.