Don’t Just Sit There. Help Save Someone’s Life!
Have you ever swerved through life feeling like all hope was lost?
Despite your feelings of loneliness, abandonment and fear, have you ever managed to plaster a smile across your face, telling everyone who asked that you were “fine”?
Have you ever held your pain inside, sharing it with no one, wondering how you might keep things together to make it through to the next minute?
I have, too.
And…the fact of the matter is that at this moment in time, there is someone in your life, someone close to you, who is going through the same thing.
I don’t care who you are or what you do for a living, you have the power to potentially help save this person’s life.
Suicide as An Answer
In recent weeks, months and years, suicide is happening all around me. It has affected my own family, my friends, and parties I have come across in my practice. I feel like suicide happens more than it used to when I was younger. In reality, I don’t know if this is really the case or whether I am just more aware of it than I used to be.
As if life’s obstacles aren’t already enough on their own, the world is harder than it was when I was growing up. The advances in technology have created new societal challenges for today’s youth. It seems like almost every week, I hear about victims of cyber-bullying and revenge porn who kill themselves, leaving their grieving families shocked at the idea their children felt they would be better off dead. In many cases, family and friends say there were no signs of what was to come.
This scares me. This scares me for the people I love the most in my life. The thought that my husband, daughter or one of my brothers might someday turn to suicide as a solution is unbearable.
Do you feel the same way?
Suicide and Hell
I was raised Catholic. Although I don’t go to church every Sunday, I am still Catholic. There are things about the church and the tradition that I love. I am a big fan of the newest pope, Pope Francis. I like the direction the church seems to be taking in recognizing the power of inclusion (as opposed to exclusion).
Growing up Catholic, I was taught that people who committed suicide would go to hell. At one time, people who committed suicide were denied a Catholic funeral mass and burial. As a child, I couldn’t fathom why someone who was already living in a chamber of pain would be forever condemned to “hell” when what they (and their families) needed most was love.
The Church’s response to suicide has evolved since I was a child. Now, the Church encourages “paying attention to the pain that produced the action. Then, look forward, not back, to pain within ourselves and pain in others, especially when we see no signs and hear no calls for help.” (For the full article from the Catholic Digest, click here.)
As much as I still disagree with certain Catholic dogma, its current view on dealing with suicide is compelling.
What Can We Do?
We each have the power to save someone’s life. We. That means you and me. Together.
It is going to require expending a little more energy than we are used to expending. We might have to actually listen for the answer someone gives us when we ask “How are you?” Not only will we have to listen with our ears, but we will have to hear with our hearts.
Is the other person really fine? Is there more happening beneath the surface? When you look into that person’s eyes, what do you see? Can you ask a question that goes deeper than the latest work project or weekend recap? Is that person holding on to pain which is too much for them to handle alone?
What Do You Do When There IS More Bubbling Below the Surface?
Listen…I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. You may or may not be one yourself. The one thing we are, however, are humans.
As humans, we all share the same basic physical and emotional needs in our lives. Even if you or I aren’t qualified to give therapy, we are qualified to give our love.
Not only that, but we can listen and be present. We can give suggestions for support, and we can let other family members and friends know that it is time to rally. And…we can send more love.
Ultimately, a person’s decision to end his life is his own. When it comes down to it, there might not be anything we can do about it. However, our willingness to engage ourselves in the life and pain of another could help save someone’s life.
Sometimes, even the littlest thing – a smile, a shared meal, or a hug – could be the one thing that turns a choice to die into a decision to live…