Homicide is a terrible problem in our country with nearly 20,000 people murdered in 2016. You may be led to think this is a form of entitled anger endemic to our culture. That is, until you read NIMH reports. More than double that number, 44,965 people, decided to take their own life in 2016.
In my experience, suicidal feelings arise when a person feels that God has turned His back on them; leaving them without hope. Given this perception, the decision to end their life can seem logical; even their only choice. People around them generally can’t understand how they feel, although they may say they do. This only adds to their feelings of anger, isolation and despair.
This is a relatively small portion of a poem a person who was considering suicide recently gave me permission to share with you:
An alien is what I have become,
from another planet and I'm the only one,
you keep feeding me these bullshit explanations,
filling me full of your bullshit medications,
but I am the exception,
an alien with other feelings,
over and over again I take this beating,
trying to flee from my own skin,
my soul wants out but my body wins, keeping it stuck in,
anxiety rising, everyday a battle against myself,
it's a lose-lose I always catch a blow to the mouth,
I'm told to beware of the unknown,
but what is fear if it's something that you can't know,
I don't feel like anyone that I know,
I'm stuck in this hole, so damn damp and cold, all alone
When Suicidal Feelings Arise
As someone approaches this ultimate decision, they may talk about these thoughts along with feelings of shame or guilt. Alternatively, they may feel anxious, agitated and talk about seeking revenge. Chronic emotional or physical pain can lead to debilitating use of alcohol or drugs. This emotional roller coaster often leads to social withdrawal until a date is chosen. When this decision is made, a period of calm can include giving away possessions, saying goodbye to love ones and putting one’s affairs in order.
As you read this, you may be thinking about a friend or family member. Maybe they suffered a recent loss that is more than they can handle. Possibly a friend or family member either recently or in the past took their life thereby weakening the cultural taboo. Especially if they have been struggling with a chronic illness that isn’t getting any better; you have reason to be worried.
I know it may be awkward, but simply ask, “I’m not sure how you are dealing with all of this… do you ever feel like ending it all?” Even if they aren’t, it shows you care and appreciate the intensity of their struggle. If they admit to you that they indeed want to take their life, do what you must to keep them safe. (National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255) Be there for them. Help them connect with resources that can help them. Throughout this process and thereafter, remain connected. There is a human tendency to avoid what you can’t understand. They need you.
Become Involved in a Faith Community
While the homicide rates have been falling, suicide rates have climbed more than 25% since 1999. Let’s discuss how your faith practice and being actively involved in a faith community can help you and your family.
Applied family-oriented faith practices build personal, relationship, family, workplace and cultural resilience. Family research has shown that family time, shared recreation, routines, rituals, and support networks are central to your family’s success. The Oneness Approach to spiritual practice includes:
Building a personal relationship with God
- God’s personal presence, built on the past with an eye toward the future.
- God’s presence with your thoughts, words and deeds
- God’s presence with your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit
- God’s presence with your time, treasure and talents
Building Godly relationships with others
- Seeing others through your God centered senses.
- Experiencing others through their relationship with God.
Building Godly relationship with all others (Greater Good)
- God’s care for the other relationships of those you are talking to.
Daily faith practices are thought to provide:
- Psychological resilience: the ability to bounce back from a challenge by using restorative emotions to cope.
- Restorative emotional granularity: the ability to represent experiences of restorative emotions with precision and specificity.
- Improved executive functions: inhibitory control, planning, problem solving, emotional regulation and attention.
Resilience is an active process that can be learned. You can develop adaptive psychological and physiological stress responses to adversity. Your stress response develops at many levels. Working each day to spiritually guide the thoughts and emotions you bring to your relationships promotes adaptive coping strategies. These result in changes to your brain circuits, stress response systems, all the way down to expression of individual genes.
People may leave you. Depression may impair your ability to “Hear His voice”, but God never turns His back on you. The part of your brain that transforms with faith can be made more resilient. Learn more by joining the online Master of Oneness video course!