A few years ago, a student at our local high school committed suicide. It hit the community hard because that doesn’t happen around “here” very often.
The school put together an informational meeting about depression and suicide for parents who wanted to know more. I went to that meeting and the one thing that I took from the meeting that has stayed with me is this statement…….
“Seriously depressed people don’t want to die, they just want the pain in their heart to stop.”
I’ve been reading a lot of different people’s reactions to the suicide of Robin Williams. There seem to be two schools of thought:
- The people who don’t truly understand how debilitating depression can be and how it can hurt so very badly. Depression is more than just feeling sad, just like having cancer is more than having a sore throat.
- Those who have been there – either themselves or with those who they know and love. They’ve lost friends or family to that sort of debilitating pain or they’ve come close to it themselves. Read Ann Voskamp’s writing on it at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/08/what-the-church-christians-need-to-know-about-suicide-mental-health/. They know how dangerous it can be. They know to take it seriously. They know that platitudes – things that people already know – don’t work to solve the problems. And from anecdotal evidence, there appear to be a lot more people who have been impacted by it than there are who think otherwise.
What to do?
Talk – talk to someone, anyone – and keep talking. Because as long as you are talking about the pain and acknowledging it, you are pushing back against the forces of depression.
Listen – we as a Western culture pride ourselves as a culture that has all of our “ducks in a row.” We don’t. We’re as messed up as anyone else is – if not more. We need to do a lot better at listening to those who are hurting. And I’m not talking about putting down our phones and listening face to face. Some of the best moments I’ve had either sitting with someone else in pain or having someone support and encourage me has been by means of the internet – because they aren’t right here, right now. But they are right here, right now through the web.
Sit with me. Don’t try to minimize someone’s pain, don’t try to solve it by a mere suggestion or a comment. I can’t tell you how often I see someone post something frustrating, depressing, sad, etc. on Facebook and there instantly appear many comments that quote Bible verses to try to help them “cheer up.”
It’s not going to help! Just because someone quotes Romans 8:28 to someone who just lost their marriage, they aren’t going to suddenly be happy. They know those verses already.
It’s the simple, “I’m sorry” comments that mean the most. It’s a simple way to acknowledge their pain, acknowledge that they are hurting and you can’t solve it but you are feeling the pain with them.
Be like Job’s friends before they turned on him. In Job’s sorrow, they sat with him for a very long time and didn’t say anything. They were just there. And then they opened their mouths and ruined everything.
Try it – be open about your pain and your struggles. When someone else opens up to you, sit with them in the pain. Don’t try to make it “all better” when you can’t.
And then be prepared to be amazed at what God can do through the quiet support that comes from sitting with someone in their pain.
It works – I’ve been on both sides of the “sitting.”