It takes Time

In honor of national suicide awareness day, enjoy a guest blog from Lexi Cannon.

Picture taken by Lexi after she experienced first hand the sting of suicide.

A conversation about suicide

“Sophomore girls don’t skip school to kill themselves, and grown men don’t crawl on the floor and cry. Or so it seems…But when did life ever go as planned?” 

Harsh right? This quote came from my journal the week my friend took her life. Kaitlyn was an outstanding musician. She was tiny and cute (although, she would probably roll her eyes if she heard me say that). She was funny and quick-witted–and extremely intelligent. But like many of us, Kaitlyn carried around deep struggles, and like many, Kaitlyn didn’t know the Lord.

I wrestle with that last statement even now as I write.

In today’s culture, and even in the Christian community, many talk about the importance of mental health. We often tell others, “I’m here for you,” or “I’m always a phone call away,” but how many of us really mean that? Be honest with yourself now, do you really care? I don’t always care not as much as I should. And you might find yourself thinking as you read: “But, you don’t know my life! You don’t know my struggles! You don’t know how tired or how busy I am!”

You would be correct I don’t know, but if we look at what all of those “statements” have in common? They are about us. Therefore, they aren’t simply statements but rather excuses.

Growing up we heard the phrase “if you see something, say something” from adults. But how often do we really stop, look around us and see? The first step of helping anyone is knowing, recognizing, and discerning the cries for help all around us. If you don’t know how to do that, then I strongly encourage you to educate yourself and ask the Lord in prayer to open up your eyes to the world around you.

I warn you when you do you will find yourself hurting and broken, not out of your own brokenness but for the brokenness of others around you. As God leads, you will have the opportunity to help others and to heal.

What if I’m the one crying out for help? 

First and foremost know that you are not alone.

Statistics show that as of September 2020, 37 percent of adults in America reported that they have suicidal thoughts daily. Surely, we don’t know about all of them, and yet people still feel all alone in this struggle. I know I do at times.

Secondly, reach out for help. As cool as it would be if we all like Professor X, of Marvel’s X-Men comics, and could know one another’s thoughts, we unfortunately can’t. Therefore the Lord blessed us with means of communication, and nowadays there are more than ever. Such as social media, instant messaging, or my personal favorites, an old-fashionedld fashioned phone call or cup of coffee.

If you tell somebody they will probably try to help you, and if they don’t know how most people will find someone who does. So speak up if you or someone you know is struggling. 

Having a solid Christian community is such a vital part of maintaining good mental health.

In fact, the Bible encourages us to lean on each other. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, says,

“ And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone”.

Paul’s letters are spiritually encouraging. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Galatians 6:2

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

We must truly lean on one another in order to survive the battles of mental illness. 

Seek out formal counseling or the counsel of a wise friend. A way out is always available. The damage and pain left behind by suicide is widespread, imminent, and life-changing for anyone left behind.

The following list includes great resources to reach out to Nationally and locally:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

24/7 Crisis Counselor Text HOME to 741741

Local Christan Counseling Resources – 

First Baptist Ruston Enrichment Center 

Brandon Ramsey, LPC Ruston, LA

First West Counseling Center

Todd Sherwin, LPC West Monroe, LA

I have personally used a few of these resources myself, and they have become great tools for dealing with mental illness, grief, and other personal struggles in my own life. The organizations listed above are excellent in their field. Having a counselor in your corner gives you an opportunity for hope and healing.

When dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts some people have reported a sense of relief with the following practices: writing therapy, regular exercise, a solid routine, and even medication if necessary.

These four things along with a solid support system have been amazing catalysts in pulling me out of my depression, especially routine and exercise. I know that if I’m out of my element for too long, or miss one too many runs, things tend to spiral down quickly. 

We all have a specific purpose and calling on our lives to be the person God created us to be. Because of this call, our mental health is vital. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. In time, with regular practice, you will get better at taking care of yourself.

When you take care of yourself you are giving yourself the opportunity to be all that God has created and called you to be. You are presenting the best version of yourself to God, the best version of yourself to others, and the best version of yourself to yourself. Strive to do this every day in every way, and you will begin to find a life of true purpose and meaning. A life that you love. 

I lost someone to suicide: What do I do now? 

Grieve. You let yourself grieve. The quote I shared with you at the beginning is one that came out of a moment of deep grief. The grief I experienced for quite some time. When you lose someone especially to a sudden catastrophe like suicide, you will feel a wide range of emotions, and friend, every single one of them is valid and okay.

Grief is unique to each person, which is a whole other topic in itself that you can explore later. For now, allow yourself to feel. Or not feel. Some people go numb and that’s okay to do for a short time too. Surround yourselves with strong people. If you have friends that have been affected by the same event, offer to help them. Doing good for others will do good for you.

Find solid mentors, preferably someone older than you who has experienced the trials of life, and reach out to them. If they aren’t available to be with you at first, keep trying. Don’t hold all of your emotions in waiting for that one person to console you. Reach out to others as well. Your person will be there in time.

In Job 2, Job’s friends sat in silence for seven days grieving with him. Normally when we read that we tend to think “well that’s a long time to sit and be sad” and it is, but when you experience a great loss, it’s necessary.

I’m not saying you need to go home and tear up your t-shirt and sit on the floor crying for a week, but mentally and spiritually you are going to feel empty. You are going to walk around in a daze, even while you keep on going and performing the tasks at hand. It’s an awful feeling, but it is normal and in time it will pass. 

Daniel speaks of this sort of feeling in Daniel 8:27,

“I, Daniel, walked around in a daze, unwell for days. Then I got a grip on myself and went back to work taking care of the king’s affairs. But I continued to be upset by the vision. I couldn’t make sense of it” (ESV).

Although Daniel may have not been grieving at that moment he certainly was on what I like to call “the struggle bus.”

During times of grief when we feel empty even after the initial shock and daze, we still might not understand, and that is okay because God can carry us through those moments of pain. He’s powerful, sovereign, and loves us unconditionally.

In Joshua 1:5 God promises to never leave or forsake Joshua, to be with him as He was with Moses, and friend, He extends that same promise to you and me today.

Give yourself time. Allow yourself to have a good long cry if you need to, to sit in silence, and be alone from time to time.

The Bible tells us there is a time for everything; this includes a time to mourn. In Genesis 50, Jacob takes the traditional seven-day time period of the Jews to outwardly mourn the death of his father, but factor in the time it took to journey to the burial ground and this time of mourning was more than likely extended past seven days, and rightfully so.

The most important thing you can do during a difficult time such as this is to allow yourself the freedom to heal. Losing anybody to suicide is awful and it takes a while to get through it. As much as I would love for someone to write out a step-by-step guidebook on how to feel normal again, the truth is things will never be fully “normal” whatever that is anyway.

In time you won’t always wake up with a heavy heart, so hold on, reach out, trust the process, and don’t ever give up. God will not waste this hurt.

Things will get better friends. In His perfect timing. 

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’” Job 1:21, ESV 

In memory of Kaitlyn

A friend to many, a fellow band member, and much more. 

February 21, 2005 – March 10, 2021

Lexi is a freshman at Louisiana Tech University, where she is majoring in English and Vocal Music Education. She is a proud member of the Louisiana Tech Band of Pride as well as the choral department. Lexi Attends FBC Ruston, where she is active in worship ministry. After college Lexi plans to move to New Orleans, and pursue a masters in Mental Heath Counseling from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
John 11:4

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