In light of Robin Williams’ tragic death, I was reminded of this request I saw on a social media site for how to write a suicide note and the response that followed. [Question:] “How do I write a suicide note the right way?” [Anonymous Response:] “You start writing about all the things you love about life. Here, I’ll help you.
- Cups of Coffee
- A snuggly blanket
- Finding a new amazing book
Next, make a list of the people who care about you. Can’t think of anyone? I guarantee there’s more than you think. Me especially. After that, write out your dreams. What you want to be when you get older, what you want to name your kids, what your dream wedding will be like, etc. And finally, you write out your favorite things about yourself. Your laugh, your smile, your personality, your hair, your skin, your compassion for others, anything. Giving up isn’t worth it. Look toward your future because there are so many bright things waiting there.”[blockquote width=’25’ mark=’grey’]
We were never meant to face the battlefield of life alone.[/blockquote]359 times. That’s how many times the search term, “how to write a suicide note” or similar terms, like “how to write a suicide letter to my kids” has led others to a blog I posted 9 months ago on this subject. This tells me that people are looking for feedback from others, looking for some connection, for some affirmation that they’re doing things “right,” even when wrestling with the painful decision to end their lives. Humanity yearns for connection, for companionship, and shared experiences. We were never meant to face the battlefield of life alone. In the Garden of Eden, surrounded by perfection where God Himself declared everything to be good, God Himself declared, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).
My friend powerfully described her depression, saying, “Major depression is a planet with a population of 1. People need to know you reside there or addiction or suicide can be the inevitable outcome.” Staying connected to a good support network is incredibly important. Reaching out is often the last thing we want to do when feeling emotionally spent, but just having that space where we can share, be heard, and hear others is so sacred. We can choose to create that space, both for ourselves and for others. All of humanity needs it, and all of humanity is better off for having it.
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
People don’t make a choice to be depressed any more than they make a choice to get cancer.[/blockquote]I don’t know what support network Robin Williams had, but I do know he was brave enough to share a portion of his heartache with the world. I don’t know what other darkness Robin Williams wrestled with, but I do know that everyone who knew his comedic genius now has a void his life once filled. I also know that depression is an illness of the brain and that even with loving, supportive friends and family, the primary treatment is a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
Many have asked questions like, “Can’t the depressed person just think happy thoughts, or think about the positive things in their lives, or rebuke the negative thoughts?” The answer is hardly yes and mostly no. If a person has a brain tumor, can they dismiss negative thoughts and think about the positives in their lives? Sure. But, should they also seek medical attention? Absolutely! People don’t make a choice to be depressed any more than they make a choice to get cancer. The brain’s process of perception is skewed in the minds of depressed individuals. You can show them roses and all they’ll see is thorns. We can all help by knowing the symptoms of depression, gently suggesting professional help, and reducing the stigma by creating that space where depression can be discussed and accepted for what it is, with no judgment, and no questions of why the depressed individuals don’t “just” do x, y, or z.[blockquote width=’25’ mark=’grey’]
Whether you’re a Christian or not, the principle remains that the truth sets people free.[/blockquote]No judgment, no condemnation, just a place of sharing and hearing; you’re already equipped to do just that. Most of us have been in a dark place before at some point; it doesn’t matter how dark or for how long. We know darkness, we know loss, we know pain, and so many around us are dying to know others understand the depths of their suffering, their disappointments, and their confusion. So many just need to know they’re not alone in the brokenness this world brings. When we’re willing to embrace vulnerability and share our stories and willing to face the discomfort of hearing others’ stories, we provide an avenue of freedom that is powerful beyond belief. Our stories tell the truth about us and what it takes to progress through the pain. Whether you’re a Christian or not, the principle remains that the truth sets people free, both the hearers and the bearers of it. In closing, I encourage each of you to tell your truth and to bear witness to others’ truths as well. I assure you someone else needs to hear it, even if that someone is you! I challenge each of you to reach out, to connect, to make that call, write that letter, visit that friend, to share, and to hear because we can all make that needed difference in others’ lives. [/box_holder]
Insurance companies can also furnish a list of covered providers in your area.[/box_holder]