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Q: My problems are just overwhelming. I don’t want to live anymore. Help!

A: This profound feeling of hopelessness, and of doubting whether living has any meaning, is one with which I can personally relate. In my book, Prodigal Song: A Memoir, I write about my own descent into a darkness that caused me to attempt suicide. Unless someone has been to this black pit of a place, they will always find it hard to understand how a person can reach this level of despair. (Also, please see an article I wrote on this topic, called “Coming Home to a Place Called Hope.”)

As a counselor, one of my prime responsibilities when seeing new clients is to assess them for depression, and to gauge their levels of potential for harming themselves. I try to recognize three primary levels of suicidal behavior: Ideation, Intent, and Behavior.

Ideation includes thoughts of suicidal behavior. These thoughts range from relatively mild, generalized thoughts that life is not worth living and wishes one were dead, to serious ideas about specific plans, methods, etc.
Intent behaviors would include writing suicide notes, making out of wills or other documents, giving away possessions, and minor self-destructive acts.
Behavior involves actual suicide attempts, be they pseudosuicidal (“cry for help”), minor (distinct possibility of failure) or major (small probability of failure).

Suicidal ideation and behavior are often found in persons suffering from major depression, and accompanying feelings of overwhelming hopelessness. Some destructive behaviors may also be initiated by delusions and hallucinations, with increased levels of suicidal ideation in persons suffering from anxiety or personality disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse. Some warning signs include frequent accidents, engaging in dangerous behavior, a preoccupation with and frequent talking about death or morbid themes, etc. If any of this applies to your current thinking, you should get professional help immediately.

I remember from my own experiences an intense sense of being disconnected, and what I call feeling “spiritually separated.” And the more I self-medicated with substances and behaviors, the emptier my soul became. I found, just in time, that I needed the help of others with similar wounds, people who would love me right where I was, without judgment. I needed to connect.

You are not alone. Christ is with us all along. And others wait to help. Here's the phone # for a suicide crisis center: 1-800-784-2433. To find a counselor, try
New Life Ministries – 1.800.NEW.LIFE and/or www.christiantherapist.com.



 


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