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OPINION

When you or someone you love is suicidal

By Sheryl H. Boldt
Special to The Star

“Do you love your children enough to live for them?” Millie asked me. I was a young mother – a suicidal young mother – of four adorable children.  

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew how I was supposed to answer Millie. I even knew what I wanted to say. My mother’s heart wished I could shout, “Yes!”  

Sheryl H. Boldt

I loved my kids. So much! But as much as I loved them, I didn’t know how to live with the chronic anxiety that pervaded my being. The lies that kept me awake night after night convinced me that my children were better off without me.  

Suicide is a tough topic. Its complexity brings me to my knees as I strive to deliver the right message to you.  

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is contemplating taking his or her life, I’d like to share a couple of things that helped me – and what didn’t. 

I needed to feel safe expressing how I felt. When people assured me that they understood how hard my struggle was, rather than lecturing me about how I was supposed to behave as a Christ-follower, it enabled me to hear (and believe) them when they reminded me that feelings come in waves. And that these waves would eventually recede. This gave me hope to believe better days were ahead. Or at least the possibility that better days were ahead. 

Whenever I leaned on friends too much, it made me feel “sicker” and left them feeling drained. When people followed their acts of compassion with signs of confidence in me (by suggesting a “doable” task like showering), it helped me feel better about myself. It gave me courage to achieve something (even if only to shower that day) and it kept our relationship healthier. 

There were times I depended on crisis hotlines. If I’d had a cell phone back then, I’d have programmed the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-8255) into my phone.  

Although a season of depression sometimes follows grief or trauma, depression can also be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. This was true in my case. Taking the right medication for a prescribed time helped me reach a level of stability. This allowed me to process my thoughts and feelings more clearly. 

When depression swallows up everything good, I hope you’ll make an appointment with a reputable Christian counselor. A biblically based counselor can help you discover God’s unconditional love and the life-giving power in His Word. 

Most of all, consider opening your heart to your heavenly Father. Be honest about what you’re experiencing and feeling. You won’t shock Him. Then spend time to sense His response. 

Space prevents me from saying more. But before I close, please don’t give up. Hang in there, at least for the rest of today. Then, please hang in there tomorrow, too. If you believe your life is over or that others would be better off without you, trust me as one who has been there – it’s simply not true. You have a purpose. Your life matters.  

You matter. 

Sheryl H. Boldt is the author of the blog, www.TodayCanBeDifferent.net. Connect with her at SherylHBoldt@gmail.com.