Dealing with suicide (from a “non-sufferer’s” perspective)

Photo by Tony Lam Hoang on Unsplash

Suicide prevention day was a few days ago. As a ‘non-sufferer’ myself (I feel like such an asshole saying that, but that seems to be the label for us) this is a conversation that I’ve always felt inadequately prepared to enter into.

Now, although I say I’m a ‘non-sufferer’, the notion of mental suffering isn’t lost on me. I’ve had plenty of George Bailey moments (any It’s A Wonderful Life fans out there?) considering how the world would be better off without me and how I’m worth more dead than alive, etc. But I’ve never taken one physical step towards ending my own life.

However, I’ve always wished I could better understand how to dance with this situation, as someone with friends and loved ones dealing with it (as well as someone eyeing a vocation in the clergy).

Which is why I was so intrigued when I scrolled across an Instagram post from one of my favorite writers and online personalities, John Romaniello (I’m sure he’s great offline too, but who am I to assume). His post blew my mind and totally changed my paradigm as far as how I look at supporting those in my life who suffer so greatly.

I won’t belabor this intro any longer. Here’s his post that you can check out yourself…

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnmTY34lrws/?taken-by=johnromaniello

I know John wouldn’t do this, but it’s my blog, so I’m going to haul off and attempt to frame this theologically.

Through Jesus — as one version of the story goes — God enters our experience. Not from high on a throne asking us to come to him. But on a cross telling us we’re all good with God no matter what.

God enters our pain and loss at the most visceral level. We find this God in the midst of our suffering, not just after the dust settles and everything is rosy.

This is something I have to pound into my head time and time again because it’s so easy to equate God with tulips, rainbows, cash, prizes, and ponies. But that’s just not how the story goes. The Bible is a violent, blood-riddled book with its central human/divine character in the thick of things with us.

Jesus is the human symbol of the divine. And Jesus intervenes.

This is by design because it’s how humans operate. We humans have never been good at taking the initiative for our own betterment. We get shackled by fear and shame far too easily.

As John said, when it comes to friends who wrestle with suicide, apparently we need to do the very inconvenient thing — we need to intervene with mercy and steadfast love…

Often.

This seems really damn terrifying to me. Like I might risk making someone feel more flawed than they already do. My concern is, if I constantly console someone, it may trigger something that reminds them of their demons. The risk of having that blood on my hands has always seemed too great.

But, from what John says, it’s what’s needed. Please read his post if you haven’t already.

I’ll close with his words…

“Call me,” you say.

I’m here to help you understand: you’re asking someone to stop, drop, and roll when the world is on fire.

They can’t reach out. They can’t ask for help. They can’t even get out of bed.

You reach out.

You call them.

You remind them, over and over and over:

That you’re there.

That they’re not alone.

That they matter.

You take the lead. Because they can’t.

That’s how you help: before. Not after.

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