Surviving When Suicide Seems Like a Friend

A few months ago I posted 10 Useful Things You Can Do When Someone You Love Wants to Dig a Hole–And Die In It about Dawn’s struggle with depression.

In that post I shared the story of how Dawn came to the point in her life where she began to see suicide as a solution, not a problem. Here’s an excerpt describing how she felt about suicide at that difficult time in 2002:

“One day during all this, Dawn told me how she fantasized about digging a hole in the back yard, about how she would lie down in the hole. She told me how warm and welcome it would feel to lie down in that hole, and die.”

life preserver

Today, I want to tell a bit more about that story in order to share a few survival lessons that apply to all of us, whatever struggles we may face.

A Dangerous Loveliness

During that most difficult time in 2002, Dawn’s death-fantasy took the form, not of the Grim Reaper, silent and forbidding, but of a smiling young woman with flowers in her hair, serene and inviting. Dawn describes her this way,

“Everything about her bespoke peace. She promised she would end the torment in my mind and stop the awful noise. She beckoned me to follow her through a green, flowering field; and oh, I wanted to. She offered her hand; I wanted so badly to take it. I imagined the freedom of running away with her, laughing and unfettered, and felt momentarily suspended from all that was plaguing me. She and her promise were lovely to my mind.

But, I knew her name.”

Our Survival Lessons

Reading this now you know her name too: Deception. Lies. Death.

But what if she made her “merciful” offer at the darkest hours of our mental anguish? Would we recognize her then? I pray we would as Dawn did, for we all face dark days, and are tempted by false promises of light.

Here are some survival lessons that we believe helped Dawn see the deception for what it truly was.

Solid Ground

Dawn knows her Bible very well. And I don’t mean just the content of the stories, histories, letters, prophecies, etc. She knows the broad sweep of the main themes and teachings of Scripture; she knows the theology. Through years of disciplined study, and listening to the right authors and teachers, Dawn has developed a solid theological foundation that grounds her mind and spirit in God’s words to us. She is able to think biblically about God and humanity, law and promise, sin and forgiveness, life and death, hope and fear, the present and the future, redemption and suffering.

This is so vitally important for each average us, because dark days come to us all. There will be days, or even years, of wondering, “Why? Why me?” And only a biblically-grounded theology of suffering and what God is doing about it, can guide you toward meaningful answers, and hope beyond despair.

And if I may say it frankly, this is why you should run from the trendy teachings promoted by so many TV preachers and their books, promising the best of life circumstances now for those who believe. It’s simply a false and dangerous hope that does nothing to prepare you for the inevitability of bad news. And it certainly will come. We all get sick. We all die. We all experience pain. And some of us experience horrific pain, tragedy, human evil or injustice.

Build the foundation now reader, like Dawn did, before the weight of suffering comes crushing down. If you have questions about how, Average Us can help by directing to you good resources. Just drop us a line.

Deliberate Trust

Second, Dawn knew that letting go of her death-fantasy meant staying in a life-reality filled with real pain and anguish. But she made a deliberate and courageous choice: to live and suffer–perhaps without ever sensing any purpose in it–rather than just getting it over with.

But this wasn’t a blind choice to live and suffer. It was an eyes-wide-open choice to trust her heavenly Father in a way she had never trusted Him before. She trusted God to lead her, not to death, but through life, through death and beyond.

Christian trust is a kind of surrender to Providence, to God’s fatherly care, to His wise and sovereign rule over our lives. Dawn trust-surrendered to life under God’s rule, knowing it meant living with pain she would not understand for the present. But knowing this directed her hope to the future, and taught her to live intentionally in preparation for it.

And so must we all. Trust. Surrender. Live. And Hope.

Skilled Counsel

Third, I’ll briefly mention that we got Dawn into skilled counseling. Suffering isn’t simple. Diseases of the body can rack the mind. Diseases of the mind can rack the body. Both scenarios can rack relationships. In Dawn’s case, her depression was like the twisted skeleton of a collapsed building, each beam stressing the others. There was a post-operative trigger, whacked-out brain chemicals, unresolved childhood fears, and bad theology from her upbringing that all suddenly collapsed in upon her.

It takes skill to help a person unravel all this. If you are suffering from any sort of mental breakdown, you absolutely must get the help of a skilled, biblically-based counselor, be it short- or long-term. Their guidance can help you begin to make sense of your world again.

Supportive Spouse

Finally, Dawn had my acceptance, attention and support. She needed to know, like never before, that the person who promised love for better or for worse really meant it.

I mentioned above that letting go of her death-fantasy meant staying in a life-reality filled with real pain and anguish. But it’s a pain that most people don’t understand, and many suspect isn’t even real. So, to be clinically depressed is often to feel alone. There is so much that defies sensible explanation to your spouse. When you’re a mess, you feel unlovable, and it’s easy to fear being left alone. How vital it is, then, to be reminded by your spouse that he or she loves you unconditionally and isn’t going anywhere.

If your spouse is suffering in mind or body, trust Christ for the grace to love him or her unconditionally. Often, you won’t understand what they’re going through, but you can hold their hand while it lasts. And that is no small comfort.

It’s our hope and prayer that you apply these survival strategies both before, and when (not, if) suffering comes, so that the temptation of death and lies will not deceive you.

God’s grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ.

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6 thoughts on “Surviving When Suicide Seems Like a Friend

  1. Very well written Lon. People of faith……even strong, unshakeable faith, go through times of testing and they are not moments like reading chapter to chapter, but can be moments that last years. The word of God does sustain us and help bring us through. You want to isolate yourself for fear of someone judging you or even fear they wont understand, but we are a “body” not an “island” and need each other at different intervals of our lives. We are doing this journey together! Glad Dawn reached out and that she is allowing her story of faith (yes faith) to be told. Keep inspiring :)

  2. Thank you Lon and Dawn! You both are such an encouragement in the Truth by what you write and the way you live!

  3. Beautifully written, Lon. My heart goes out to Dawn as she struggles with this. There are so many people that go through this life with similar struggles but unfortunately, they don’t seek the help they need. Dawn is very fortunate to have your support and the love of the Lord. This is great truth–> “And only a biblically-grounded theology of suffering and what God is doing about it, can guide you toward meaningful answers, and hope beyond despair.”

    • Thanks Bobby. We believe Dawn’s story is another tale of God’s faithfulness to His (real) promises. “Already; not yet.”

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