To the Christian Contemplating Suicide

Friday, May 8, 2020
Woman crying alone in bathtub

In the summer of 2016 I locked myself in a run-down hotel room and attempted to take my own life.  I tried again in April 2017.  So I know what it's like to traipse despairingly through life, to long for an end. At the time, I couldn’t see anything but the pain I was in and I sincerely believed that I was doing everyone around me a favour.  If it had not been for the police and paramedics that intervened, I wouldn’t be alive today. And I am so glad that I’m alive today.

This experience didn’t play well with the narrative I had constructed for myself.  I had become a Christian 16 years earlier, during a less sincere suicide attempt.  The Lord had saved me from this sort of thing.  Hadn’t he?

I remember feeling alone and desperate.  Googling “Suicidal Christian” at 3am, searching the internet for something that would speak into where I was at that moment.  My hope is that this letter will be that for somebody today.

Dear Christian who wants to kill yourself, you are not alone.

I know it seems like everyone in the pews beside you on Sunday morning is struggling with ordinary stuff like laundry piles and credit card debt while you fight for your life.  I know you feel strange and foreign and alone.  You aren’t.  So many Christians face this and are afraid to speak about it.  Too many of us lose our lives in that silence.  You are not alone.

Maybe like mine was, your head is full of shoulds and shouldn’ts.  I should know better.   I should have hope.   I should want to live the supposed abundant life God has for me. 

Friend, give yourself a break from the shoulds and shouldn’ts.   None of this is how it should be.  We are a fallen broken people in a fallen broken world. You shouldn’t have to walk through this pain, but you do.  And you can.   I know you can.

I remember thinking that any mother who could kiss her children goodbye for the last time and walk out the front door intending to kill herself as I did, didn’t deserve to live.  Didn’t deserve to be a mom.  That if I was a good mother or wife or friend I would want to stick around for them. But that just isn’t true.  Our brains get sick just like our bodies get sick and we can’t trust our minds in the midst of it.  You know who we can trust? The people who love us.  The people begging us to stay. And the God who loves us when we can’t feel or fathom it.

Friend, you aren’t too broken.  

Things are rough now and I can’t tell you when they will get better but I can tell you that you aren’t too far gone.  Us humans are a resilient bunch, and we can overcome an incredible amount of pain and sin and trauma and sickness.  You are no different.  There is hope for you. You are not too broken.

And you don’t need to pretend you are okay.  Life is hard and pain is molding us into a people who can love really, really well and God doesn’t need you to hide your struggles in order for His glory to shine. In fact, our weakness is a canvas for his amazing story of Grace. So don’t pretend.  Don’t hide.  Wear your pain on your sleeve if it helps you today.  There is space in the big wide world for every piece of you and every piece of your pain.  You deserve the space you take up in this world and in people’s lives.

Struggling with this doesn't make you a bad Christian.

In case you were wondering, these struggles don’t nullify your faith.  You are no less a Christian than you were at your highest mountain top moments. Our faith is not based on our feelings or our experiences or how much hope we can muster on any given day, but in God’s unending grace. Christ who did not sin cried out in anguish and sweated blood and (I presume) beat the ground with his fists in desperate anguish.  We were never called to be a shiny happy people.  Did I mention yet that life is hard? Because it is.  And you are not alone.

There is a journey ahead of you.  Of hope, and healing, and God’s abundant love.  But first, friend, we must get through today. What do you need to do to stay safe today? Can I ask you to do that one thing?

Please, call a friend, or a hotline, or your pastor, or your family doctor.  Go to your hospital’s emergency department if you are afraid that your feet will take you somewhere you don’t want to go.  Reach out, ask someone you can trust for encouragement, support, and prayer.  Do whatever you need to do to save your life right now.  Please don’t worry about being a burden.  We are an interdependent people, designed to need one another.  You were never meant to go through this alone. You deserve every single thing that you need in order to survive and thrive right now.  Because your life matters.  It does.

I once sat ugly crying in a friend’s car and told her that I was just trying to hold on.  

Like the saying, “Don’t give up before the miracle happens”, I just wanted to hang on and see the miracle happen.

What, she asked, did I think the miracle was?

“I don’t know.  Healing?  Hope? Strength?”

My friend looked me in the eyes and said “The miracle is you.  That you are here.  You are the miracle”

Friend, you are already a miracle. That you are here, that your heart beats and that there is air in your lungs, that you’ve survived this broken and painful world up until now is a full-blown miracle.  And you know what? This world needs some miracles.  Will you hold on for another day?

I don’t know you.  And I don’t know the pains that have driven you to this dark, dark place.  But I know this:  there is hope. And life, in all it’s bitter pain, is worth living.  That God is writing an incredible story of redemption and restoration in your life, and that if you hold on through this season, one day you will be so glad that you did.

Friend, please stay.  The world is better with you in it.

If you are struggling today please reach out. Here are some resources if you need them:

In Canada call 1-833-456-4566
In USA call 1-800-273-8255
For a list of international suicide hotlines, click here.

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