September 10th- Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

I will never forget going to the funeral of a 19 year old girl. She completed suicide only two weeks before she was supposed to start college. She had been in an emotionally abusive relationship and the young man abruptly broke up with her. Her family and friends were devastated. She had been in my mentoring group for young people from Vietnam. All of them went on to college except her. It was a tragedy.

Out of the group one became a doctor, several became pharmacists, a few became nurses, one is an architect, one is a CPA, others engineers, but I still think about her. I lost track of her during the year before she died. She had quit coming to our group.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

The emotional distress people who attempt or complete suicide is difficult for many to understand. There can be any number of underlying issues the person faces. When I went through suicide prevention training, I learned that someone just asking if a person is contemplating can make a difference.

As a Christian, my desire is to reflect the love of Jesus to those around me. A person may not be ready to hear the message, but could benefit from someone caring if we are open to caring for others.

If you happen across this post because you searched suicide and you are considering it, please know that God truly cares about you. There is no one and nothing worth throwing your life away. As the video I am sharing at the end of this post says- Stay Another Day.

People need others who care about them in these difficult times. It can as simple as reaching out when one feels prompted to do so.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday- It Is Okay to Ask For Help

Trigger warning. This post deals with suicidal thoughts. If that makes you uncomfortable, please click away.

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

As an American I have never understood why the UK keeps a monarchy nor the fascination with the Royal Family.. As someone who is busy with ministry and teaching, I have never been a big fan of talk shows like Oprah. I have always felt I have better things to do with my time. But when I saw a promo clip of the interview with Harry and Meghan, I decided to watch it. My motivation was simply to listen to someone give voice to what so many people struggle with- Depression and what some people struggle with- Suicidal Thoughts.

In the interview she shared that she confided in her husband Harry about her suicidal thoughts and that she needed help. Sharing that so publicly will hopefully help others to share with and confide in loved ones or people they trust.

She also shared that though she asked for help other than from her husband, she was not given help. That is very concerning.

Living with four chronic illnesses all of which have depression and anxiety as possible symptoms, I understand depression. I talked with my doctor and he prescribed medication for me to treat depression and Fibromyalgia. When I confided in one of my pastors, and he said, “Matt it is medical. You do not need to resign your ministry.” it was a moment I will never forget.

My experience has reinforced for me that God does indeed care. Jesus cares and works through other people. God wants us to ask for help.

There is hope for depression and struggling with suicidal thoughts. It is not only okay but wonderful to seek help. If family is not a safe place to confide in, there are school counselors, pastors, mental health facilities. There are hotline numbers.

In the USA-800-273-8255

In the UK- Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)

In Canada- 1.833.456.4566

There is always hope and we can ask for help. If we have depression, we can seek help. Talk with a doctor, a pastor, a trusted teacher, talk with someone. If medication is needed, it is not only okay but important to do so. If suicidal thoughts, PLEASE SEEK HELP.

I love the message in these videos. Stay Another Day and Your Story Isn’t Over Yet.

How 3 Amazon Deliveries Connect In Meaning for Me

This afternoon three Amazon deliveries came to me. As I thought about the items, I realized the connection among them at least for me.

One was a coffee cup sent to me by a student from Brazil who lives in Canada. She knows I am a Christian and sent me this coffee cup.

I love it. I love to start my day with coffee while listening to worship music and praying over my day. One prayer every morning is for Jesus to help me show his love to my students and others I will encounter during the day.

Speaking of showing the love of Jesus, this package came. It is from friends at church.

It is a box of winter hats and gloves for children at the school where I teach in the mornings. The school is in a low income neighborhood. These will help over 70 children stay warm as the walk to and from school in the winter.

One issue that is important to me is suicide prevention. I shared about it yesterday. Mental health is something that I care about as it affects others. In punctuation a period ends a sentence, full stop for British English, but a semi colon means the sentence will continue. So the semi colon is a symbol that someone has thought of suicide but decided to continue with their life. Some people get semi colon tattoos to either show they have chosen to continue or to show support for others. I ordered this mask from Amazon

Notice the semi colon in the word live. I will wear this to show support to others.

So the packages represent time with Jesus in the mornings, showing his love to children, and showing his love to those who struggle in life.

They all came on the same day. Kind of a reminder from Jesus 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Letter by Alisa Turner

About a month ago, a young woman who had been my student completed suicide. She struggled with trauma from a childhood with an abusive father. I will never forget walking up to her mom after the funeral service in the church and her mom falling into my arms weeping as I held her.

We never know what someone is going through unless we take the time to listen, to really listen. Alisa Turner, one of my favorite artists, has a new song called The Letter. The song is about a letter being written by someone who is close to attempting suicide but in the end chooses not to. I loved what she wrote in her Facebook to introduce the song:

“If listening to it made you emotional or even uncomfortable, good. Because there is nothing about suffering in any capacity that is comfortable. So often when a suicide happens there’s a crowd that can’t fathom what would make a person do such a thing. Perhaps the “The Letter” let you feel even a 10th of an inch of the wreckage that person may have been battling, for we will never truly know as no one walks anyone else’s road but their own. You really don’t know what the person next to you is going through…they may have filled you in on the details, the big picture, but it’s those small breaths in between, quiet gentle gasps they hope no one hears, out of fear of judgement or worse, being misunderstood. And just because they don’t show you, doesn’t mean you did anything wrong… you may have loved them so well. But we have to accept we don’t really know what anyone else is truly, truly going through. So best to just keep showing up when they let you, and even when they dont ❤️.and to the person sitting on the edge. If you don’t mind, I’ll take a seat right next to you. We don’t have to talk, or we can. I don’t know that I have any answers, because life truly is brutal enough for some people to drive you to such edge. But for this moment, Ill just sit right here on your edge if that’s ok❤️ I will tell you what you already know, that you are not alone and you are very, very loved. I will tell you anything to make you stay so I can then show you why it was worth staying. But I also understand if you don’t. I get it. I really do. In my own way, I know, I know, I know, I know❤️.”

I love the part- “and to the person sitting on the edge, if you don’t mind, I’ll take a seat right next to you.”

My friends if you ever need, I will sit on the edge with you. I will listen. You are so precious to Jesus. Jesus loves you so much. I will sit on the edge with you because I know how it feels to wonder if there is hope. I also know how it feels to discover hope. But I will sit in silence if that is what you need.

Even if you are just experiencing a rough time with no thoughts of anything drastic and just need someone to listen, I will listen.

Dear reader there are so many hurting people now. Let’s listen to them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A New Short Story I Wrote

It has been quite a while since I last wrote a short story. The one I wrote today is The Wanderer’s Encounter on a Path. It is about a person, who I never describe or identify. who is walking down a lonely path thinking of suicide but has an encounter that changes things.

I purposefully did not describe or identify the character so that anyone who reads the story can picture the character however they wish. If even one person is helped, it is all worth it.

If you would life to read it, the link is- thewanderer’sencounteronapath.encounterswiththeancients.com

It’s Okay to Need and Ask for Help

This week is suicide prevention awareness week. This is an issue that has impacted my life through the deaths of three people who have completed suicide. The first was someone I knew when I was in high school. The second was a 19 year old girl who completed suicide a few weeks before she was supposed to start college because her boyfriend broke up with her. Depression was an issue for her for a while. The third was my friend who completed suicide this past Saturday at the age of 28.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

There is a popular phrase that I wholly agree with.

It’s okay to not be okay.

There is truth in that saying, but I do not want to leave it there. Yes it is okay to not be okay. But I do not want people to stay stuck in not being okay. There are steps we can take to experience healing in our lives. I think the second saying that needs to tag with it’s okay to not be okay is:

It’s okay to need and ask for help.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

We can ask for help from someone we trust. If we feel there is no one we trust in our personal lives, there are people we can turn to. If in high school, a counselor at school. A school counselor would want you to come ask for help.

If in college, colleges have resources to help.

If not in school, or as the saying goes-adulting, there are counseling services, churches, places to go for help. I know my pastor would definitely want someone who is struggling to come ask for help.

Did you know Jesus wants you to come to him for help? He said so himself in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Notice he said- ALL. All means all. Jesus wants all to come to him. The reason he gives is that he is gentle of heart. He want to give us rest for our souls.

Remember it is okay to need and ask for help. Asking for help is much better than suffering in silence.

By asking for help, our stories can continue and in time take on new and better meaning. I am sharing a wonderful spoken word video- Your Story Isn’t Over Yet. I am also sharing a wonderful song- The Mention of Your Name.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

Today is Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. It first became very real to me how important it is to watch for signs and to show compassion and love to people in September 2011 when a 19 year old girl I knew completed suicide. Being at her funeral was one of the saddest days in my life.

Only five days ago it became even more real to me when a young woman who was 28 years old completed suicide. I will go to her funeral tomorrow. She had a difficult life having been abused by her father growing up. I tried to help her for a few years but lost track of her when she got married to a man who ended up also abusing her.

Darkness whispers to those who are struggling that there is no hope seeking to lure them into a fatal decision. Despair, loss of hope, and feeling there is no way out harass the person.

In contrast Jesus said in John 10:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Darkness seeks to destroy. Jesus gives life, hope, peace inside and love. Jesus heals wounded souls.

It is so important that we show the love and compassion of Jesus to those around us. We do not know what inner turmoil people are going through, but Jesus does.

If you are reading this and have thought of suicide, please know that God loves you and cares deeply about you. There is hope. Also please call for help.

In the USA you can call-800-273-8255

In Canada you can call-833 456-4566

In other countries please Google for the number.

I would like to share two videos with you. One is by a young woman who was suicidal but got help. The other is a song that will help you to feel God’s love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

It’s Okay To Talk-Will We Listen?

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day

There are so many things pulling at us and so many issues pressing on us these days that it is easy to understand if someone is feeling down and hopeless.

People dealing with Mental Health issues of depression, anxiety, PTSD, need our compassion and understanding not stigma. I love the banner I found that says- It’s Okay To Talk. For that to be true, we need to be willing to listen,

We need to be willing to listen to someone in agony. We need to be filled with the love and compassion of Jesus and show it, so people feel they can talk to us.

One of the saddest experiences in my life was in September 2011. A 19 year old girl who had come to my weekend groups for a little while completed suicide. Being at her funeral was so terribly sad. The experience prompted me to get training for suicide prevention. Just being willing to listen and to ask the question can make all of the difference.

I have depression as one of the symptoms of chronic illness. I understand feeling depressed and how it can feel like things just keep piling on. But there is always hope as long as we are alive.

God loves you. That is where hope begins. God LOVES you. Even the faintest of a prayer whispering for help will get God’s attention. Don’t Give Up!!!

If you are in the U.S. and struggling with thoughts of harming yourself, you can call- 1-800-273-8255

A link for Suicide Prevention hotlines in various countries is- hotlines

I would like to share two videos. 1 is a spoken word poem I love and the other is a song I love. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Being Aware of Others/Expressing Kindness

Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a local Organic/Natural Food market in my city, I love the deli food such as curry chicken salad and of course their mulligatawny soup. When I stopped in yesterday to get some tuna salad, I noticed the young woman I enjoy telling my dumb jokes to has a tattoo. The tattoo is the Semi Colon tattoo.

Dictionary.com explains it as, “The Semi Colon tattoo represents the semicolon punctuation mark used as a message of affirmation and solidarity against suicide, depression, addiction, and other mental health issues.” You can read about how it started at Semi Colon Tattoo.

I love this quote by Amy the woman who started the Semi Colon movement:

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

When I saw her tattoo, I shared with her that I have struggled with depression because of autoimmune issues and then showed her a few videos on youtube on my iPad for her to look up.

We can get so busy in our lives rushing about that we don’t notice or pick up on little things that can help us understand those around us. But being aware of others and clues about what is going on in their lives can help us form connections.

Jesus pays attention to little things. He notices the little things others pay no attention to. A classic example of that was when he took note of a poor widow Every one else was rushing about their business entering the temple. Rich people were giving their money. No one took note of the widow except Jesus. We read about it in Luke 21:

“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

My desire is to be sensitive to the leading of Jesus to be aware of those around me in every day life. Sometimes the littlest thing can lead to a wonderful connection and opportunity to show God’s love to those around us.

If you happen to see someone with a semi colon tattoo, please be aware that either that person or someone they love struggles with depression and there may have been a suicide attempt.

There is a world of hurting people around us. Let’s be aware of others and ready to express the kindness and love of God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.