Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day to raise the profile of the need to talk about suicide before, for some, it is literally too late. In the church, we haven’t traditionally been good at this. Our theology can be mixed up at times. We know that Jesus came to bring life in fulness, and we can start to believe that this means we are responsible for that fulness, and that anything less is a failing on our part. We can wonder if feeling like life is too much, instead of full of joy, means we mean less to God, that we’re falling short. And if we’re one of the fortunate ones who breezes through life with a permanent spring in our step, we may wonder what could possibly be so bad about life that anyone would want to let it go. But of course, for many people, this is the case. You can read the statistics here.
Finding words that will help and heal can be hard. We may feel like words aren’t our thing, like when we open our mouths to speak we can’t guarantee that anything resembling sense will emerge. But don’t let that stop you. If someone is on the ropes, don’t turn away. Remember that the life Jesus promises isn’t an easy ride, but there are always ups as well as downs, and there will be hope and joy again. So, smile. Breathe deeply. Listen well, without judgement, or questioning. Don’t feel like you need to fix things, because sometimes in that moment of despair fixing may not seem plausible. Be still and be present. Be a friend.
And if you’re feeling like each breath is an effort, like the movement of your chest is too much to endure, hold on. Reach out. Begin to speak, to let the life that is left in you make sense of the circumstances you’ve found yourself in. Take the chance of believing that you are precious, wonderfully made, irreplaceable and loved. Know that just as the sun rises each morning, so hope will rise too, perhaps imperceptibly at first, but it will come, lifting the weight, changing the light to that which brings warmth and new vision. And know too that life in fulness is exactly that, a life of twists and turns, of emotions and experiences which may feel exhausting but bring a richness and a knowledge that there is a purpose for each one of us, and especially for you. Unique, and amazing, and worthy of this life, a life that will feel unrecognisable when there is distance between now and then.
Each of our lives is a precious gift, each heartbeat a moment of opportunity. But this isn’t a burden that we need find too heavy. Let others carry hope for you until you can share in the carrying, until you can feel it lifting you, until you know there is no judgement, only love. Hang on, and you’ll find it to be true.
• The Samaritans contact number is 116 123 (UK)