Written by cycleguy on May 17th, 2015

I attended a two-hour workshop Sunday afternoon on “Let’s Talk Suicide.” Given that my ministry seems to be involving more counseling on Sexual Abuse as a child and its after effects; Depression and its many-fingered alter egos (one of which is feeling like, attempting and/or fulfilling suicide), I thought it would be a good workshop to attend. I highly respect the two teens who were willing to tell their story, and respect the other panel members (2 professionals, one school liaison, and one Suicide group prevention leader). I hate to admit there was nothing game-breaking for me. No A-HA moment. No “Bright Idea” time.

But there are several things I know which were solidified:

Suicide is a complicated thing. Whether it is “telegraphed” or done as a spur of the moment thing, it is heart-wrenching either way. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it’s cause or a pattern to its fulfillment. It is no respecter of persons. While some talk about it; some act. While some give a warning; some give none. While some seem to have the “world by its tail; some are bullied and feel like a “Loser.”

Most people are not conditioned to help…least not professionally. I know I’m not. But there is one thing I CAN DO and so you: BE THERE FOR THEM! Young or old. Male or female. Rich or poor. Athlete or nerd. BE THERE! Listen! Care! Give them your time. And if I may be so bold: don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t promise you won’t say anything to an authority when someone speaks of suicide. I like what one of the panelists said: I would rather someone hate me because I said something, than for me to feel guilty because I didn’t and they carried out their threat.

That advice- BE THERE– isn’t just for this subject. It is for all concerns people have. I am finding I don’t have to have the answers. Often that is not what the person is looking for anyway. Very often they are simply wanting someone to listen.

What are your thoughts?


22 Comments so far ↓

  1. Daniel says:

    I think it is important for the person who hears the suicide plans to know when they are in over their heads. They should be smart enough to take the person to someone who is equipped to deal with such situations. This is definitely not passing the buck. It is doing the loving, responsible thing.

    • cycleguy says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more Daniel. It took me years to realize that was the best thing I could do. I could actually do more damage than I helped with some ill-timed intervention on my part. Great thought.

  2. Ceil says:

    Hi Bill! I have had family members who have dealt with depression and thoughts of suicide. I also worked in an OB/Gyne office where I would take calls that would break my heart. Postpartum depression is a very real, very sad thing.

    You are so right about ‘being there’. It sounds trite and non-helpful, but it really is. A lot about depression is hopelessness, no one who understands…Caring about what is said, and what is felt is so healing. And getting anyone who feels that way to a professional as soon as possible.
    I’m sorry your experience wasn’t all that great, but it does sound like your thoughts were validated. Sometimes, that’s enough.

    • cycleguy says:

      I am learning more and more about depression beyond just knowing it exists Ceil. It is just as complicated as suicide. I would also agree with your last statement. I’m glad I’m not too far off the beaten path.

  3. Good counsel, Bill. Many people are just looking for someone to be present, to listen, to care.

    That said, we’re wise to have at our fingertips professionals to whom we can refer people when their pain is more than we’re trained to handle.

    This is an art, as well as a science, isn’t it …

  4. I think so many of us hesitate to act because we don’t have the answers, but as you said here, we don’t have to. We simply need to listen and show we care. Thank you for reminding us of this simple yet possibly life-saving act we can all do.
    Blessings, Bill!

  5. Betty Draper says:

    Like the part about not having to have the answers to “being there for someone”. That also works for the families of those lost someone to suicide. IN some ways allowing them to grieve at any time validates their pain and loss. There is no “getting over it” especially when it’s a child who dies. Good advice Bill.

  6. cycleguy says:

    From Pamela David; Totally agree. Someone to listen….and a hug.

  7. Kari Scare says:

    A person considering suicide doesn’t exactly want life to end; more accurately, they just want to end their pain. When a person is just there for them, I think it alleviates the pain at least some and gives hope for life on the other side of it. That hope can be all that is needed to take another step toward victory.

    • cycleguy says:

      That is a good way to put it Kari about ending life or ending pain. That gives a whole new opening for understanding. Thanks for the help.

  8. Debbie says:

    As someone who attempted suicide twice, this touched me. I didn’t talk to anyone . . .felt bad to feel so bad. Didn’t want to make anyone else feel bad. Thank you for helping us do what we can . . .listen. I still keep forgetting and feeling responsible to fix things. Argh.
    God bless!

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m so glad you felt safe enough to comment on this part of your life Deb. I will listen if you need someone to talk to. If not, hoping and praying you are finding someone to do so.

  9. It’s incredibly heartbreaking to think someone would commit suicide as a spur of the moment decision. As they say, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You’re so right–just being there for someone is huge. They may or may not have anyone else. Not always easy, but this is a good reminder, Bill.

    • cycleguy says:

      it is heartbreaking Jason. It makes it even more when you know of those who do or have relatives who have. My pastor’s heart breaks for them.

  10. Sharon says:

    Last week on my blog I said this:

    “In the beginning of his travails, Job’s friends got it right – ‘Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.’ (Job 2:13, NLT)

    Sometimes that’s all we need. No words, no clichés, no platitudes. Just someone’s presence.”

    This is what I think you’re talking about – Being there. Being willing to enter into someone else’s pain, even if it causes pain to ourselves. Being generous with our time, even if it’s inconvenient. Being willing to face the *ugly* stuff, even if we don’t have answers.

    In this we are given the example of Jesus – who always gave of Himself to others, even unto death.


    • cycleguy says:

      you are right Sharon. Also, trouble began when they opened their mouths and began to speak of things they had no clue about. Sometimes just being there and not talking is the best thing we can do!!

  11. Deb Wolf says:

    This is so important Bill. I’ve suffered with depression. Thankfully I’ve never been suicidal. Your advice to “be there” is perfect. No pat answers. No solutions. Just compassion and presence. Often that’s all that is needed to have the courage to do another day. Thanks for sharing this. God bless you!

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks for your honesty Deb. it takes a lot to trust someone you don’t know to share something so sensitive. I’m “honored” you would feel safe here to do that. Glad the words I typed were spot on.