Through the years, my husband shared with me the lies the enemy was whispering to him. If he could not find freedom from his struggles he could and should take his life, and we would be better off without him. Even prior to marriage, he had told me of a suicidal attempt he made in middle school. I stuffed this information into an emotional box in my heart, not knowing what to do with it, and definitely not understanding that these things would eventually impact my life and the lives of my children.
Suicide was a topic not discussed by many, and it was one of those out-there topics that only happened to other people.
At that time, I believed this certainly would not be my story.
When he confessed that he was suicidal after being confronted with sin, I felt it was a manipulative ploy. One where we would feel sorry for him and turn the focus from his sin to sympathy. Thankfully, God gave me grace toward him, and I did not respond in a way that I would regret now. But I really did not believe he was seriously considering the unimaginable. If only I had known…
In the case of suicide or unexpected death, friends and well-meaning bystanders are also willing to add to the list with their questions: Did you see this coming? Did you see the signs of depression? Why didn’t you believe his cry for help? These questions, and more, torment those left behind. As I replay that night in my head, a list of should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’s fill my mind. I will share that list with you in hopes that it might be helpful if you are ever at that same crossroad with a loved one.
Signs and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation
- Mental disorders
- Substance abuse
- Few or no significant relationships
- Intense emotional pain
- Intense physical pain
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Recent major loss
- Extreme stress
- Clear expression of suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
- Statements about death
- Sudden improvement of mood
- Decreased coping ability
- Putting affairs in order
- Giving away prized possessions
Steps to take
- Take any sign of suicidal ideation seriously.
- Ask, “Are you considering suicide?”
- Ask if they have a plan for how they would take their life.
- Determine the level of suicide risk.
- Convey that you want the person to stay alive with these statements:
- I am here with you, and I care about you.
- Please know that I want you to live.
- I want you to know you are not alone.
- You matter to me.
- I do not want you to die.
- Help connect the person to the care he or she needs either a counselor or call the Suicide Hotline #988
I absolutely would have done anything, and possibly laid down my own life, for the man I had vowed to stay with forever. I willingly would have gone to great expense, to get him the help he needed. We did seek counsel, we did pray, and we fought the spiritual battle for years. But we did not win, this side of heaven. At least not from a natural perspective but God takes what was meant for evil and uses it for good. He promises to work all things together for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). So even though it appears that Satan was victorious, I believe otherwise.
However, it is my prayer that understanding the signs of one considering suicide will prevent your loved one from choosing death over life.