Monday, April 13, 2015

My Personal Thoughts On Suicide: There Is Another Way

 When it comes to the subject of suicidal thoughts/actions, one should seek help from a licensed professional therapist or even end up going to the emergency room (for immediate help call 911 or the appropriate emergency number in your area).[1] Moreover, I refer to a network of certified counselors below through New Life Ministries or 1-800-NEWLIFE (1-800-639-5433).[2] However, I was led to write a personal footnoted layman' account on the issue, partly due to so many recent suicides in local (Missouri), national, and world news.
                                Layman Advice*

---Do not hold it in. Talk about it with a trained pastor or therapist           
It is a myth that talking about suicide will make it more likely to happen. Licensed Clinical Social Workers George Ohlschlager and Mark Shadoan along with military chaplain Gary Stewart makes an excellent point worth considering. They write, “Contrary to seemingly popular opinion, talking about suicide doesn’t make it happen. Keeping it secret and not hearing the cry for help are far more likely to facilitate a tragic death. Getting the issue out in the open robs it of some of its mystique and power, including Satan’s power to tempt the at-risk person with deadly thoughts.”
[3] Moreover, although not addressing the spiritual side, the prestigious Minnesota hospital named the Mayo Clinic, similarly says, "Don't try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior entirely on your own. You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking."[3a]

Get the help you need from those whom you trust and use discernment. There are many excellent hospitals and licensed professional therapists that can aide in these dark times.(Also seriously consider talking with someone in your family). However, New Life Ministries has an excellent network of certified Christian counselors and psychologists who can provide you with a hopeful path, if you are opened minded, to change (some will bill on an income sliding scale or trained pastoral counselors might even be free).
[4] Sometimes the first individual you seek counseling from is a not the right fit and you have to get a second opinion. Sometimes one is a great fit for a majority of the issues (substance abuse and depression), but another is better suited for other suicidal thought/action triggers like marital turmoil. The point is, stick with counseling on the path to reasonable healing. (For more information about New Life's Counselor Network go to (1-800-639-5433 but for immediate help, call 911 or your local emergency number)

-- If you are a man with suicidal thoughts, get rid of your self-access to guns
Yes, men need to protect our families, friends, and strangers we do not know from bad people.
[5] However, how can we if we are not around to do so? More women attempt suicide, but men are three times more likely than women to follow-through with killing themselves and usually do so with a firearm.[6] Instead, buy something like bear mace, take karate, or dig up that old baseball bat. Just please, deny yourself access such as a place where you cannot get to the firearm (e.g. lock it up and give someone else the key). [7]

--Realize you are not alone
Between 40 to 80 percent of adults in the United States have had some sort of suicidal thoughts;
[8]millions, around the world, make unsuccessful attempts every year (600,000 in the U.S.).[9] Though your (or loved ones) circumstances are unique and should not be diminished, it is at least something to consider that individuals we know, acquaintances we just met, and strangers who pass us by most likely have struggled to some degree with thoughts/actions to end their lives. Moreover, some of them have probably sought help and made it through to the other side of this dark season in their lives.

--News, either TV or word of mouth, of other suicides could be the trigger
History or no history of suicidal tendencies, sometimes it can be triggered by a public figure taking one’s life. For example, Marilyn Monroe’s tragic suicide in 1963 sparked a 12 percent hike in the national suicide rate (Philips, 1974).
[10] There is more data to back this up as Ronald J. Comer out of Princeton notes, “research suggests that suicides by entertainers, political figures, and other well-known persons are regularly followed unusual increases in the number of suicides across the nation (Fu and Yip, 2009; Stack, 2005, 1987).”[11] Political figures indeed, for this year (2015) here in the state of Missouri, our state auditor committed suicide and weeks later his spokesman commits the same act. [12] This was plastered all over the local news with many asking, Why? Regretfully, there is not what some call “postvention” to these events. An instance of this is what MTV did when Nirvana’s lead singer Kurt Cobain suddenly ended his life.[13] That evening MTV repeated the same theme of “Don’t do it!” Again, similarly here, Don’t Do It! Please, seek help (see above).

There is more that can be said, but to sum it all up it is better to get help than not, get rid  of your access to devices that can commit the act, you are not an anomaly (though your or loved one's situation is unique), and the news can be a trigger. Remember, there is help (and it is not unmanly to get help. Even the Lone Ranger had assistance part of the time).

I will end with this quote from a survivor of a 2008 suicidal attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge:

"I’ll tell you what I can’t get out of my head…it’s watching my hands come off the that railing and thinking to myself, My God, what have I just done? Because I know that almost everyone else who’s gone off that bridge, they had that exact same thought at that moment. All of a sudden, they didn’t want to die, but it was too late. Somehow I made it; they didn’t. [14]"
*(All of the above and below is my non-professional advice.  For more information about some professionals that can help go to New Life's Counselor Network (1-800-639-5433) Even with this network, still use discernment.  For immediate help, call 911 or your local emergency number.  Seek help from professionals).

[1] If you do not have access to these, consider your local urgent care, clinic, or health outreach ministry in the more remote areas of the world. We westerners can sometimes be too narrow in our focus when we write or convey idea’s. Emergency rooms, for the most part, are accessible in the Western context. The point is to seek professional help and not go about this alone.
[2] Call from 8am-8pm Monday through Friday. 10am-6pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays. If it is an emergency dial 911 or your local emergency number. (Hours checked 04/14/2015); Depression does not necessarily lead to suicidal thoughts, but can be a trigger;  
 [3] American Association of Christian Counselors, Caring for People God’s Way, ed. Tim Clinton, Archibald Hart, and George Ohlschlager (Nashville, TN: Nelson Reference and Electronic, 2005), 350; Mayo Clinic has comments on getting help. They say, “Don't try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior entirely on your own. You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking" ; For an extensive look at the different views on the relationship between Christianity and Psychology see Eric L. Johnson. Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (Spectrum Series) I personally endorse the Transformational Psychology view which Todd Hall and John Coe cover in the book just cited and also in John Coe; Todd W. Hall. Psychology in the Spirit: Contours of a Transformational Psychology; The devil can and does play a part in these situations (1st Peter 3:9), which brings into a whole element that no one can handle except God himself who cares for us (1st Peter 3:7-8). What does God think about suicide? The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says, “the six clear biblical suicides are associated with God’s disfavor.” F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1566.
[3a] (accessed 04/2015); To see where the Mayo Clinic is ranked in different categories go to (accessed 04/2015)
[4] I used this network a few times in the distant past and even go back to a counselor now and then to talk about recent events in life.  It's like going to get your yearly physical only it is more of a spiritual and emotional check-up.
[5] Maybe you do not have the desire to protect anyone in the sense of bodily harm which I respect. However, there are other ways to protect such has from emotional, verbal, and intellectual harm. The point is, we are all needed even if we do not realize it.
[6] D. Needham, “Suicide,” ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 1183.
[7] Depending upon the circumstances, this may be permanent or temporary.  
[8] D. Needham, “Suicide,” ed. David G. Benner and Peter C. Hill, Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology & Counseling, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 1183.
[9] Ronald J. Comer, Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology (New York: Worth Publishers, 2011), 230.
[10] Comer, Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology, 240.
[11] Ibid.
[12] (accessed 04/2015)
[13] Ronald J. Comer, Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology (New York: Worth Publishers, 2011), 240.
[14] Comer, Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology, 253; One also has to consider what Paul writes in Philippians which says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. ” (Phil 2:3-4) If we end our lives, this will deeply impact others more than we know. 


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