Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Depression - Suicide is NOT the answer (Christians, Depression, and Suicide)

The extract below is from my diary, written while stuck in the miry pit of severe depression. I had virtually no hope, could see no future, and feared depression would never end.

29th April 1990 -
How many other people are out there like me?
I wish I could help them, comfort them,
But I wouldn’t know how.
I don’t even know how to survive myself.
What was it that stopped me from ending it all?
Why did I persist?
Jesus was some of the reason, sure,
But even my spiritual life was in a complete shambles.

The one main thing that stopped me from ending it was my mother.
I had to keep going for her,
And for the others who cared for me.
How could they cope if I had killed myself?
I saw the devastating effects a suicide could have on a family,
And there’s no way I could put others through such an ordeal.


A common reaction if experiencing unbearable suffering such as depression, is to want to die or kill ourselves. Unable to see an end to the suffering, and not knowing how to be free from it, suicide or wanting to die may seem like the only escape route available.

This is a lie from Satan. Capitalising upon our fears and feelings of hopelessness, Satan tries to convince suffering people that death is the only way out. He tries to hide the truth from us because he wants to destroy us. We must not give into Satan; we must not give him the victory.

John 8:44 “the devil…was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Another extract from my diary, 14th June 1990 –
I keep asking myself, why am I still here?
Why am I still even trying?
Why don’t I just give up and end it?
I mean, is this all there is to human life?
Suffering?
Is this it?

But regardless of how hard it gets,
I can’t end it, for my mother could not handle it.
I’ve seen the effects suicide can have on a family,
And I would not willingly do that to anyone.
I feel so like Job. “Curse God and die!” my thoughts yell at me.
“Look at this suffering!
How can He be faithful,
When He’s apparently done nothing for six whole months now –
Curse Him and die!”
But God is faithful, and I know that -
It is His name – Faithful and True.


The main thing that stopped me from ending it was that I had witnessed the effects suicide has upon a person’s family, and I loved my family too much to destroy their lives by ending my own. They loved me, cared for me, and were supporting me the best they could, as were my friends. If I had taken my own life, it would have destroyed their lives by causing them to enter a depression worse than what I was experiencing. I refused to put them through that.

And as to the fear that depression would never end – that was a lie as well. I did recover. The fact is, if I had succumbed to Satan’s lies that death was the only way out of depression, I would have been robbed of all the wonderful blessings that God was yet to give me.

1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him."


Once I came to understand how depression worked and how to recover, hope re-entered my life. During the next four years, while I slowly healed, I learnt to live with it and got on with my life. I made a lot of new friends, took up new hobbies such as writing and computer games, and joined a new church where I played the piano and taught Sunday school.

And then, when I recovered from depression, God continued to pour His blessings upon me. I bought a house, married a wonderful lady and had two beautiful (busy!) children.

Quality of life after depression was also much better than it had been before depression. Why? Because it was through depression that had I finally learnt how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks – I was finally free of them for the first time in my life! And best of all, I came to receive a much deeper understanding of God’s love for me, I learnt how to trust Him during difficult times, and I came so much closer to Jesus.

Another thing that helped me to press on, where the memories of my relationship with Jesus before I became depressed. I often reflected upon the times He had comforted me, the times I had felt His wonderful presence, and upon Bible passages that offered encouragement. Most of all, I remembered when Jesus so clearly revealed His love for me - a love so deep and touching that I had wept for joy afterwards. I focused on the fact that God is faithful and true, irrespective of my circumstances.

Ephesians 3:17-19 ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’

One thought that helped me persevere was the joy of reaching heaven and hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!” Matthew 25:23. How could Jesus say that if I had taken my own life? That is not being a good and faithful servant, making the most of the life and gifts He had given me – that is giving up!

I also kept in mind that God rewards the overcomers, those who persevere in times of trouble. The book of Revelation lists several wonderful rewards that Christ gives to the overcomers. If you have a moment, please check them out. Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 3:5, 3:12

In conclusion, if plagued by thoughts that suicide is the only way out of depression, remember that this is a lie - there is a way out, we can recover, and we can enjoy the richness of life again.

And some advice - we need to talk to those who are supporting and caring for us, and tell them if we are having suicidal thoughts. When I confided to my mother that I felt like ending it all, she immediately arranged for me to see her doctor. The anti-depressants the doctor gave me were very effective in reducing the severity of depression’s symptoms, which made life much more bearable. So if having such thoughts, please see a good doctor and follow his or her advice.

As well as seeing a doctor, we need to get help from a professional therapist or counsellor and deal with the underlying issues that are causing the depression. I also recommend reading “Self Help for Your Nerves” by Dr Claire Weekes. It was after reading this book that hope returned to my life.

And most of all, we need to cling to, rely upon, and trust in Jesus. He will not abandon us if we turn to Him.

If no one is available and you need to talk about suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone at a suicide helpline. Here is a helpful listing of such helplines available in a number of different countries.

All verses from the NIV.

23 comments:

  1. "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." -Romans 8:28. Your love for Him is what kept you from doing something to hurt yourself. He saved you because He is using you for a purpose.

    You are a great encourager by telling us what hardship you had gone through. And overcoming it by God's grace. And so glad, that the truth was God never forsake you. God bless.

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  2. What a powerful post Peter!!
    I often reflect on the people who do not know Christ personally, the hell that they must be going through with really 'no hope.' Even though I know it was bad for you, still you had that hope. Blessings dear one for sharing!

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  3. I've been there, Peter, and this is SO true. Thank you, again, for this powerful post, and all the others before it.

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  4. Hi RCBUBEs, and you are so right. Although at the time it was hard to see that God was still with me, He was with me, was supporting me, and He never abandoned me.

    I've often thought about that too, JBR. Going through trials such as depression is so hard, but I imagine that to do so without knowing Christ would be bleak and hopeless.

    Hi Joanne, you have been through so much with your husband's health issues, yet are such an example to all of us by your faith.

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  5. Peter, I love this post; so real and honest which is so good for believers to hear. I also wanted to tell you about http://www.logos.com/reftagger.....visit their site and add it to gadget. Whenever you input a biblical scripture (like on my blog) this reftagger will automatically bring the verse on your page when a reader reads it, this way they don't have to look it up, but can see it right on your blog. You can chose whichever version of the Bible you want too. If you go to my blog on the post 'Why I blog' you can view how easy it is for any reader to click on the verse and it will show right there. Hope this helps. Love your post today. It's very encouraging and lifelight.

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  6. Thanks Sarah for the feedback. This was an article I have been putting off writing for months, but the Lord dropped the format into my heart last week so I decided it was time to tackle it.

    Thanks for the idea after logos.com. I'll definately look into that.

    God bless :)

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  7. Rcubes left me your link. i 'm glad to have stopped by.

    :)~Silver

    I will come back soon to dig in further.

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  8. Thank God for the hope we have. If I only had a gun... honestly if it was in easy access, I'm sure I would be gone today. Keep your guns locked up people - I'm serious! Had I known someone had one that I could use, I would have.

    But as you said - it's all a lie. Thank you for bearing truth on such an ugly, scary and silent topic.

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  9. Hi Silver, thanks for dropping by - I hope my testimony can be of some help and encouragement.

    Hi Shane, thank you for the comment, and for being so honest. It really is an ugly, scary and silent topic - but the fact remains that Christians, lost in depression or worse, can also be troubled with suicidal desires. I was there, and it was terrible, but praise God for leading me out of that place and back into the Sonshine again.

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  10. You know how I feel about this post, Peter, and I commend your courage and confidence to share it. So obvious that the Lord is in control of your life and ministry.

    I dare say as well, that all who read and comment on this blog are courageous as well. God's Word will not return to any empty or void.

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  11. Thks for the verse and link you had left out for me.

    It is a difficult journey that most of us are making and it's so good to know that we are all here to help each other along this journey of life..

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  12. This is such an honest post! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  13. Hi Silver
    You're most welcome, and isn't God amazing, the way He prompts two people to share the same verse with you at the same time. And I too am very thankful for the support and encouragement I have received from others during my difficult journey.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement, Faith Imagined.

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  14. I know we don't seek recognition as we write for the Lord. But you are an awesome encourager with what you are writing about and I just want to bless you back because I know your posts are touching many lives. May I share with you a blog award so when you get a chance, come on over and grab it if you want. God bless you and your family.

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  15. I read this posting days back but came back to it today to reread it. I was viewing the painting you created. It really does show how depression is like the rounded, slippery rocks which makes one feel like it's impossible to climb out of, to get to the light. Even if that painting was painted with mainly yous subconscious it really does reveal how one might feel, as rounded rocks are not usually easy to climb up but instead are slippery. I can totally see how your painting was showing your inner feelings of despair. I think a lot of us have suffered times like this, some with shorter time frames, some longer, but definately with the same helpless emotions/feelings. I know I have and I've hollered out to God to save me, even from myself when it got really bad. Thanks for sharing so openly so that myself and others can truly know that there is hope, and a light that we can reach at the end of it all.

    God really did reach down to you as you called upon me and had to wait some of the time out. He still was faithful and came to you as you ached for Him to be your refuge. I really enjoy your blog; how it centers around your honest dealings and battlings over depression and how, through Christ, you overcame the darkness.

    Praise God! I am so glad you recorded notes in your diary and that you decided to share some of this with others who may be going through similar dark days themselves, so they can read your posts and learn from what you went through, while also learning how to overcome it. Hopefully some readers who are not strong in the Lord will read how you relied on Him to get your through those really tough times. I agree with rcubes; you are an awesome encourager by exposing your struggles of the past to help those today and in the future! Great post; once again Peter!

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  16. Hey Sarah,
    Thanks for your impressions of the painting, and regarding this post. And as always I appreciate your support, friendship and encouragement. God bless :)

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  17. I have visited and revisited your blog repeatedly today. My mind is filled with thoughts of fear and worry but your words have encouraged me so much right now I am holding back tears because I know God loves all of us and he puts us through trials for a reason, I pray for all fellow sufferers just have faith and get through another day because our understanding is limited Gods understanding, love and care is limitless!

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  18. Peter, would you mind sharing how long any suicidal thoughts stayed with you? I'm currently in the early stages of recovery and at times am plagued by thoughts such as, "you can't get out of this. You know how to make the pain go away forever. How long are you going to put up with this?" I do not have plans or even have thoughts of plans to harm myself, but there's thoughts like I mentioned that scare me and are working against me to keep the anxiety flowing. I have learned how to let most thoughts come and go, although some stick around even when I'm accepting them as just thoughts. As a Christian, the thoughts I described really disturb me. May God bless you and your family, Peter!

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  19. Dear Anonymous,
    Thanks for writing. To answer your question, it was for a few months.
    And I understand exactly what you are going through. Basically, these unwelcome thoughts - which are NOT from your heart - pop into your mind, and then you are tricked into fearing that they are what you are secretly thinking/feeling. But it is a trick. The fact is, you do not need to fear them at all, and when such thoughts come, just say to yourself, "Ah, your one of THOSE thoughts are you?" and then ignore it/accept it will be at the back of your mind until it fades away. Only by letting them disturb you can the thoughts have power.

    Please read this post, it explains in more detail: Learning not to fear our own thoughts -
    http://cornerstonethefoundation.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/when-mind-is-minefield.html

    God bless you,
    Peter

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  20. Hi Peter, I've been reading your blog for the past several weeks as I fall into deep depression. I feel as though I'm currently in the thick of it and I can't see a way out. I've just started on antidepressants less than a week ago, but while I wait for them to kick in I am ashamed and scared to admit my suicidal thoughts. I know, in my head, that God is good, that there is hope, and that this won't be forever, but I just can't make that knowledge real right now. I'm too weak to hold onto my faith. Reading your blog has been encouraging and has helped me to feel as though I'm not alone. Thank you.

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    1. Dear Some Girl,
      You are welcome, I'm just glad my blog has been used by the Lord to encourage and comfort you. Hang in there, you can recover from this and have a normal life again. I know you can't see it now, because the depression and feelings have distorted your perspective, but a future full of sunshine awaits you.

      Don't be ashamed of the suicidal thoughts, but please make sure you talk to someone about them if they get worse, such as your doctor and parents, or even ring one of the hotlines.

      When taking a new med it can help to mark 14 days on your calendar, and then tick them off as they pass. Normally you'll receive some if not great benefit from a medication by or before the 14 days, and full effect by six weeks. Make sure you do not read the brochure that comes with the med, but ask a family member to read it and watch you for any side effects instead. And of course, if concerned about any side effects you notice, don't hesitate to talk to your doctors. Are you able to get counseling as well?

      Remember that Jesus is holding you in His hands, and He will never let go - for you are His treasured and precious child.

      God bless
      Peter

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  21. Hi Peter,

    This post has been really helpful. I thank God for your life testimony.

    I have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder and believed already overcame it years ago. I was also able to asked for your help to recover from it and you've supported me so well with your encouragements.

    But for weeks now, I feel depress that I can't assure myself that this is just an episode of anxiety since I am no longer experiencing severe panic attacks. I just feel so empty sometimes, starting to think I am lacking emotion or motivation, having trouble deciding what job should I take, difficulty in finding my purpose, and having suicidal thoughts(which I dont know if I'm just afraid that I might do it or I just feel like doing it).

    I would like to know, whenever a suicidal thought cross your mind, what is it that you think or do to disregard those thoughts away?

    How do you respond with them? For anxious thoughts, I just accept them and let them go, but for this depressed thoughts I dont know what to do.

    Thank you very much Peter!

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    1. Hi Charmaine,

      Thanks for writing again. Are you currently on medication for depression/anxiety disorder? If not, please see your doctor and tell them what you shared above, and consider going back on to them for a while, until you have put all this behind you.

      If you find yourself actually considering suicide, please seek help immediately from a doctor, help line, a hospital, or close family members.

      However, from what you have shared above, I don't think you are afraid you might commit suicide, it is more a case of being afraid that the thoughts are in your mind in the first place. It is normal for some level of suicidal thoughts to run through our mind if depressed. It does not mean we are considering suicide.

      How I deal with such thoughts is to remind myself that I would never commit suicide, regardless of how bad depression becomes, because suicide hurts our family members beyond comprehension, and I would never do that to them. By standing on decision, and remembering you were afraid of the thoughts being there, strips the thoughts of their power. (Also, keep seeking Jesus face, spending time worshiping Him in song, thanking Him for His love and blessings, reading the Psalms as a letter from Him to you.)

      Hope that helps, feel free to write to me directly at any time,

      God bless
      Peter


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