I have a friend who has recently struggled with suicidal ideations (he’s currently in the hospital receiving treatment), but suicide is nothing new to man, but men have often struggled with the thoughts of taking their own lives. King Saul took his own life after he was seriously wounded in a battle with the Philistines: “Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him” (1 Samuel 31:4-5). Of course, there is also the famous case of Judas who hanged himself after he betrayed the Lord for a measly 30 pieces of silver.
Others, although they did not take their own lives, wished for death. Throughout Job’s first speech, the patient sufferer lamented that he lived instead of slept in the earth; for example, “Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest, with kings and counselors of the earth who rebuilt ruins for themselves, or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?” (Job 3:11-16). When Elijah fled from Jezebel to save his physical life, the prophet prayed to God, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).
What can you do when a friend mentions suicide? Well, here are some ideas:
I’m not at all qualified to help someone contemplating suicide (although I’ve had a few people come to me with that concern through the years). Get help immediately! The National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s toll free number is: 1-800-273-8255.
Those who are contemplating suicide are struggling, and they often need to talk.“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Be quick to hear when someone needs to talk.
When someone is struggling with suicide, s/he needs prayer. Pray for God’s blessings. Pray for peace. Pray for hope. Pray that your friend or loved one can see the light.
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.
I’ve asked my friend some tough questions: “Do you have a plan?” “What’s in your apartment you could use to harm yourself?” “Why are you thinking about suicide?”
Your presence can speak volumes. Show your friend that you love him or her. Give a shoulder to cry on.
I’m thankful that my friend is getting the help he so desperately needs. I pray that he might find the peace available in Jesus.