We never know the kind of impact we have on other people. We may draw people close to us or we may push them away. It all depends on how we are wired, what may have crossed our wiring along the way, and quite simply, it depends on how we see ourselves.
In the past week, two students committed suicide; one by gunshot, the other was hit by a train. It has left their community reeling from the shock and pain. These students, both classmates at the same high school, are not statistics to shake my head at and dismiss to “mixed up youth.” The young woman was friends with my high school small group girls. I have texted a couple of my girls this week to just let them know they matter. I care about them and I am praying for them.
Depression, anxiety, the feelings of worthlessness, being empty from a lack of love or purpose, are some of the most real emotions a person can face. Many of us have struggled with these feelings, but others cannot seem to find their way out of the maze. In the end, the Minotaur of depression claims them and they commit suicide.
We can blame ourselves, society, the decisions the person made or didn’t make, but in the end one of the real reasons can be traced back to a sense of loneliness. A sense that no one will care, there is no hope, no reason to contend with their pain any longer.
How do we stem the tide? We need to stop. Stop dismissing the hurt of someone else as less important than what you are feeling. Be willing to step into their situation, even if it is uncomfortable, to let them know they aren’t alone. If the situation is too much for one person, tell someone else who can help. “Tattling” may very well save someone’s life.
Pray. Pray for wisdom when you see a person who is hurting, so you know how best to help and then act on it. The person in pain is already crying out for help, but they aren’t going to speak it in a way you will probably understand.
Pay attention to the little things. Is that person pulling back, showing any signs of separation from friends, family, activities? Seek them out. Don’t let their statements of “don’t tell anyone about this” or “I’ll never forgive you, if you tell” keep you from speaking.
Every life matters. I will say it again, every life matters. If we don’t step into a person’s pain and walk with them through it, how will they know they matter?
Talk to your family members. Turn off the television, iPad, smart phone, whatever is distracting you or them and talk. It may be ugly, painful, and messy, but talk anyway. Remember to speak truth in love, but speak.
And then listen. Let the other person say what is weighIng on their heart and mind. It may be frivolous, it may not be, let them speak. Don’t judge, hear them.
Seek professional help. Even the wisest teenager is going to be ill-equipped to deal with their friend’s real suicidal issues. Professional help, whether it’s a school counselor, a pastor, or some other person of that caliber, will be better prepared to take the next steps to finding healing help.
Even if the person seems to be crying wolf, it is better to take them seriously, than to dismiss it and find out they meant it.
The community we are called to be a part of is only as healthy as we allow it to be. Social media is not true community. Face to face, or face-time, or coffee with a person you trust, or a conversation in the living room; these are all ways to show someone they matter. It may make all the difference.
Scripturally speaking, and without dismissing the real, eternal truth of this… The enemy is, was, and always will be, out to destroy what God has said has value. And what has more value than God’s creation of mankind? Suicide is the ultimate war– waged, won, or lost with ourselves. God said when He made Adam and Eve that “it was very good.” (Genesis 1). Mankind is the only creation He made that was “very good.” From that point on, the enemy has made us his target for destruction.
Through God, we can share His love, His value of His creation, and His plan for us with others. It may save a life –truly.
We never know the kind of impact we have on other people.