You Can Find Help
‘FORTY-NINE sleeping pills in a cup. Shall I swallow them or not?’ a 28-year-old man in Switzerland asked himself. His wife and children had left him, and deep depression had set in. After swallowing the potion, though, he said to himself: ‘No. I don’t want to die!’ Fortunately, he lived to tell the story. Suicidal impulses do not always lead to death.
Alex Crosby of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said regarding teenage suicide attempts: “If you can restrict it for even just a few hours, you can stop it. With intervention, there are a good number you can prevent from going to a completed suicide. You can save their lives.”
While working at the Lifesaving and Emergency Center at Japan Medical College, Professor Hisashi Kurosawa helped hundreds of suicidal people to regain their will to live. Yes, with some kind of intervention, lives can be saved. What help is needed?
Facing Underlying Problems
As noted in the preceding article, researchers say that 90 percent of those who committed suicide had psychiatric disorders or substance-abuse problems. Hence, Eve K. Mościcki, of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, says: “The greatest hope for preventing suicide in all age groups is the prevention of mental and addictive disorders.”
Sadly, many who suffer such disorders are not inclined to seek help. Why not? “Because there is strong prejudice in society,” comments Yoshitomo Takahashi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Psychiatry. He adds that as a result, even people who are vaguely aware that they are unwell hesitate to seek immediate treatment.
Some, though, do not let shame stop them. Hiroshi Ogawa, a well-known television announcer who has hosted his own show in Japan for 17 years, acknowledged publicly that he suffers from depression and has even been on the verge of suicide. “Depression is likened to a common cold of the mind,” Ogawa said. Anyone can come down with it, he explained, but recovery is possible.
Talk to Somebody
“When someone is alone with his problem, then he usually sees it as disproportionately large and as unsolvable,” says Béla Buda, the Hungarian health official quoted earlier. This observation underscores the wisdom of the ancient proverb in the Bible: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”—Proverbs 18:1.
Listen to those wise words. Do not allow yourself to flounder alone in a sea of overwhelming personal problems. Seek out someone you can trust and in whom you can confide. ‘But,’ you may say, ‘I don’t have anybody to confide in.’ According to mental-health professional Dr. Naoki Sato, many feel that way. Sato noted that patients may avoid confiding in others because they do not want to reveal their weaknesses.
Where can a person turn for a hearing ear? In many places he or she can enlist the help of a suicide prevention center or a crisis hot line or find a reputable medical doctor who deals with emotional problems. But some experts also recognize another source of help—religion. How can that help?
Finding Needed Help
Marin, an invalid in Bulgaria, had developed a strong desire to kill himself. One day he came upon the religious journal The Watchtower, a publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He responded to the invitation in the magazine to have a personal visit by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Marin explains what resulted: “I learned from them that life is a gift from our heavenly Father and that we do not have the right to harm ourselves or end our life willfully. Thus, I reversed my former desire to commit suicide and came to love life again!” Marin also received loving support from the Christian congregation. Although still an invalid, he says: “My days are now joyful and tranquil, and they are filled with pleasant things to do—even more than I have time for! All of this I owe to Jehovah and to his Witnesses.”
The young Swiss man mentioned at the outset also received help from Jehovah’s Witnesses. Today he remarks on “the kindness of a Christian family” who took him into their home. He adds: “Later, the members of the congregation [of Jehovah’s Witnesses] took turns inviting me to meals day after day. What helped was not only being treated hospitably but also being able to talk to someone.”
This man was greatly encouraged by what he studied in the Bible, especially when he learned about the love that the true God, Jehovah, feels for humankind. (John 3:16) Indeed, Jehovah God has hearing ears to listen to you when you “pour out your heart” before him. (Psalm 62:8) “His eyes are roving about through all the earth,” not to find fault with people, but “to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) Jehovah assures us: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.”—Isaiah 41:10.
Regarding God’s promise of a new world, the Swiss man said: “This has helped considerably to lighten the weight of my frustration.” This hope, which is described as “an anchor for the soul,” involves the promise of everlasting life in Paradise on earth.—Hebrews 6:19; Psalm 37:10, 11, 29.
Your Life Is Important to Others
True, you may face situations that make you feel that you are completely alone and that your death would matter to no one. Remember, though: There is a big difference between feeling alone and being alone. In Bible times the prophet Elijah reached a low point in his life. He said to Jehovah: “Your prophets they have killed with the sword, so that I only am left.” Yes, Elijah felt totally alone—and not without reason. A great many of his fellow prophets had been killed. A death threat was hanging over his own head, and he was on the run for his life. But was he truly alone? No. Jehovah let him know that there were some 7,000 loyal people who, like him, were faithfully trying to serve the true God in those dark times. (1 Kings 19:1-18) What, though, about you? Is it possible that you are not as alone as you feel?
There are people who care about you. You might think of your parents, your mate, your children, and your friends. But there are more. In the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can find mature Christians who are interested in you, who will hear you out, and who will pray with you and for you. (James 5:14, 15) And even if every imperfect human were to fail you, there is One who will never leave you. King David of old said: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) Yes, Jehovah “cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Never forget that you are precious in Jehovah’s eyes.
Life is a gift from God. Granted, at times life may feel more like a burden than a gift. Can you imagine, though, how you would feel if you were to bestow a valuable gift on someone who then threw it away before really putting it to use? We imperfect humans have barely begun to use the gift of life. In fact, the Bible indicates that the life we live right now is not even “the real life” in God’s eyes. (1 Timothy 6:19) Yes, in the near future our life will be far fuller, richer, and happier. How so?
The Bible says: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4) Try to picture what your life will be like when those words are fulfilled. Take your time. Try to create a full, colorful mental picture. That picture is no empty fantasy. As you meditate on how Jehovah has dealt with his people in the past, your confidence in him will grow and that picture can become all the more real to you.—Psalm 136:1-26.
It may take some time before you fully recover your desire to live. Continue praying to “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17) Jehovah will give you the strength you need. He will teach you that life is worth living.—Isaiah 40:29.
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How Can You Help Someone Who Seems Suicidal?
What should you do if someone confides in you that he wants to commit suicide? “Be a good listener,” advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Let him express how he feels. In many cases, though, a suicidal person is withdrawn and not communicative. Acknowledge the reality of the pain or hopelessness that he is undergoing. If you gently mention some particular changes that you have noticed in his behavior, you may move him to open up and confide in you.
While listening, show empathy. “It is important to stress that the person’s life is important to you and to others,” says the CDC. Let him know how his death would devastate you as well as others. Help the person to see that his Creator cares about him.—1 Peter 5:7.
Experts also recommend removing anything that the person might use to commit suicide—firearms in particular. If the situation seems serious, you may want to encourage the person to seek medical attention. In extreme cases you may have little choice but to summon some kind of emergency medical service yourself.
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‘Will God Forgive Me for Feeling This Way?’
Associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses has helped many to overcome suicidal thoughts. Yet, no one today is immune to life’s stressful events or to depression. Christians who have thought of taking their life often contend with profound feelings of guilt over having such thoughts. The guilt may only add to their burden. So how can such feelings be dealt with?
It is worth noting that some faithful men and women in Bible times expressed profoundly negative feelings about life. Rebekah, the wife of the patriarch Isaac, was once so distressed over a family problem that she said: “I have come to abhor this life of mine.” (Genesis 27:46) Job, who suffered the loss of his children, his health, his wealth, and his social standing, said: “My soul certainly feels a loathing toward my life.” (Job 10:1) Moses once cried out to God: “Please kill me off altogether.” (Numbers 11:15) Elijah, a prophet of God, once said: “It is enough! Now, O Jehovah, take my soul away.” (1 Kings 19:4) And the prophet Jonah repeatedly said: “My dying off is better than my being alive.”—Jonah 4:8.
Did Jehovah condemn these individuals for feeling as they did? No. He even preserved their expressions in the Bible. It is vital to note, though, that none of those faithful ones let their feelings drive them to commit suicide. Jehovah valued them; he wanted them to live. The fact is, God is concerned even about the lives of wicked ones. He urges them to change their ways and ‘actually keep living.’ (Ezekiel 33:11) How much more does he want those who are concerned about winning his favor to keep living!
God has provided the ransom sacrifice of his Son, the Christian congregation, the Bible, and the privilege of prayer. This line of communication with God—prayer—never has a busy signal. God can and will hear all who approach him with a humble, sincere heart. “Let us, therefore, approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”—Hebrews 4:16.
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Have You Lost a Loved One to Suicide?
When someone commits suicide, family members and close friends suffer severe mental turmoil. Many blame themselves for the tragedy. They say such things as: ‘If only I had spent a little more time with him that day,’ ‘If only I had held my tongue that time,’ ‘If only I had done a little more to help him.’ The implication is, ‘If only I had done this or that, my loved one would still be here.’ Is it fair, though, to assume the blame for the suicide of another?
Remember, it is only too easy to recognize signs of suicidal feelings after the fact. In the present, it is a different matter. The Bible says: “The heart alone knows its bitterness, and no outsider can share in its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10, Tanakh) Sometimes it is simply impossible to discern what another person is thinking or feeling. Many suicidal people just cannot adequately communicate their innermost feelings to others, even to close family members.
The book Giving Sorrow Words says this about the signs that a person may be suicidal: “The reality is that it’s usually not easy to discern such signs.” The same book adds that even if you had recognized some telltale signs, that in itself would not guarantee that you could have prevented the suicide. Rather than torment yourself, you may find comfort in the words of wise King Solomon: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Your loved one is not being tormented in a fiery hell. And the mental and emotional anguish that led him to suicide have ended. He is not suffering; he is simply at rest.
It might be best now to focus on the welfare of the living, including yourself. Solomon continued: “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power” while you are alive. (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Rest assured that the future life prospects of those who have committed suicide are in the hands of Jehovah, “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.”—2 Corinthians 1:3.*
You will find a balanced view of the future prospects for those who have committed suicide in the article “The Bible’s Viewpoint: Suicides—A Resurrection?” in the September 8, 1990, issue of Awake!
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Talk to somebody
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Your life matters to others