One thing you might not know about me is that I am afraid of heights. But it’s a little more complicated than you might think. It’s not that I’m afraid of falling. It’s the fear that I might give in to the urge to jump.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Thankfully, being actively suicidal is not a struggle I’ve had to face. I’ve never made plans to draw my final breath.
But on some dark nights when I close my heavy eyes, I’ve listened to a record by The Smiths playing and thought to myself, “sing me to sleep, sing me to sleep, I don’t want to wake up anymore…” In the morning, I’ve felt the knot in my stomach grow tighter when I open my eyes and realize I have to get out of bed and face another day. And on the worst days, I’ve had friends who I love dearly, ask me to reach out and hold onto their hand when they find themselves standing on the edge of the abyss.
Photograph by Tamara K Black
Because I’ve never been suicidal, I won’t pretend to fully understand what it’s like to constantly fight for the will to live. But as someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I know that in my weakest moments I am not immune to the weight of this crushing darkness. Our thoughts can become quick-sand, suffocating us with the lie that life is hopeless and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
But oh my friend, when the end of your rope is rapidly fraying, please hold on just a little longer.
Help is here and Hope is real. You are not alone. The Light will find you. I promise it gets better.
When you are broken, look for the reasons to stay. It might be something small at first, like a warm cup of tea, or the perfect song playing on the radio waves, or the puppy dog that greets you with a shower of kisses. Don’t stop there, keep looking. Remember the inappropriate jokes that made you laugh, the stories that made you cry, and the people who have stayed by your side. Find the tiny spark that’s still inside of you and keep the flame burning.
When you are strong, please, please, become the reason that someone stays. Maybe you’ve never looked over the ledge and wondered what it would be like to jump into an endless freefall. And that’s why the rest of us need you. To be there to offer a shoulder to lean on, to dry the tears that won’t stop flowing, to check-in when we’ve tried to push you away with our silence. We need you here to be the outstretched hand that pulls us up to safety.
A lot of times, we wonder why we exist and if life holds any meaning at all. There is one thing I know for sure. We are here to travel the road together and lighten each other’s burdens. This love for each of you is the reason I choose to stay.
My friend, when the darkness surrounds you, lay down your weary heart and rest your aching bones in the arms of our Savior. Find your reason to stay and keep waiting for the sunrise.
If you or someone you love is considering suicide, please call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience by writing a guest post, doing an interview with one of us, or joining the team as a regular contributor. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.