When do most suicides occur? Are you thinking, like I was, that it’s during the holiday season? Certainly that is a season of loneliness for a lot of people. But to my surprise, and maybe yours, suicides happen most frequently in the Spring.
Why is that exactly? I’m not sure. But I can share a few things about suicide now that I wish I had been able to articulate earlier in my life. The following information may be able to help you help someone you love. Or maybe it can help you.
Let’s start with a brief experience…Years ago, I was a freshman in college, volunteering at a Crisis Line help Center a few hours a week. I was barely trained when one night someone called who told me he was suicidal. This was new. I was afraid. I listened. I listened for a long, long time. I listened to a story of upcoming divorce, panic, and mental illness.
At some point during the call, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a fast note, describing the situation, to my co-workers. The man’s call was traced. Police were sent to his house. They arrived in time. He did not commit suicide.
I never spoke with this man again. But I hoped, of course, that things got better. I prayed for him. Through the years I have occasionally thought of him and wished that I could go back in time and say some things now, that I knew then, but didn’t know how to say. I was so young, so dizzied by the suddenness and enormity of his situation.
I am older now. Much of my educational background has been in Psychology. But this article is about something deeper than psychology. Here is what I would likely say to someone struggling with suicide today:
First, life is often hard. Mortality is a test. Have you ever taken a test in school and thought “I don’t feel ready for this test. I would like to get out of here.” Sometimes wanting to leave our mutual, mortal test feels like this. But we signed up for this test before we came to earth. We are not from earth. We are from heaven. We can say “This____ (fill in the blank) tastes/looks/smells/sounds like heaven” because somewhere deep inside of us, we have a reference point. This is also why, when someone passes away, you frequently hear people say that person “went home to heaven”.
But how can a person go home… if they weren’t ever there in the first place? The answer is that we were there in heaven. We were all there, because we are all God’s children. We really are one big human family. When we say “Hey Bro!” we are actually, (at the “soul-ullar level”) not kidding.
We can’t remember heaven clearly because we came here to be tested, to walk by faith, and to learn right from wrong through our own experiences. If we could see and remember heaven at all times, we would make few regrettable choices. We needed a place away from the watchful eyes of heaven…a place where we could make regrettable choices and learn from them. Welcome to earth. But just like certain chemical elements can pass though a semi-permeable membrane, “whispers” from heaven can still pass into our hearts.
I remember the first time I heard “Nessun Dorma” (https://www.wqxr.org/story/5-versions-nessun-dorma-went-viral/) sung by the Three Tenors. A few tears spontaneously rolled down my cheeks. The song was in Italian. I don’t speak Italian. But the music (not, as it turned out, the lyrics) of this song felt heavenly, a whispered reminder of our past home.
Maybe you have felt this “other worldliness” too. Maybe you have felt it while listening to a certain song, seeing a particular sunset, or even in “deja vu” moments, while talking with people you seem to have “known forever”. You have known them forever.
Second, it’s not weird to miss heaven. There is nothing wrong with you if you are occasionally homesick for our original home. Heaven was lovely, kind and pure. Mortality is fraught with opposites of these. This is why home, when it’s kind and loving, is the closest thing to heaven. This is also why, if your home life is brutal, you can feel shaken. You came from a far better place. Places that are calm, orderly, loving and peaceful naturally feel “right”. These things are what we all knew.
As Thoreau said “Surely joy is the condition of life.” We came from joy. Joy is the homeostasis of our souls. We are ever drawn towards trying to re-create joy in this life. It’s what we may think we want to run back to in heaven when efforts to find joy on earth seem to fail. But we haven’t failed. Every experience, good or bad, is teaching us something valuable. We will get to share what we have learned with our Heavenly Father (and Mother-an article for another time) and the whole human family one day.
But those stories will be infinitely more fun to share if we don’t leave the test before we are called home from the testing center (earth). Compared to eternity, this life is a relative handful of seconds. Savor this quick experience. It will be over before we hardly know it.
Third, you can say “I am going to kill myself”, but the truth is, you can’t actually kill yourself-not the part of you that is truly you. You are an immortal spirit. No matter what you do, that spirit will never die. You can destroy the outside, the wrapping paper part called your body. But you can’t kill what is most fundamentally you-your spirit. Your spirit is forever. It was always forever. It came from heaven. The goal is to stay on earth, create whatever heaven you can here, learn all you can from both good and poor choices, and then return home when you are called by heaven.
Fourth, you could try to go home early, via suicide, but what then? There you will be, standing before your Father in Heaven, still fully alive, sans the wrapping paper of your earthly body. What will you say? How will you feel? I wonder if you might say “Please, I know now that I was fully loved by heaven, that I was always loved, that my spirit was forever worthy of love, no matter what. Now can I go back again to earth for awhile? Please? There are just so many more loose ends I need to tie up, so many relationships I need to tend to, so many people I need to still help. Please send me back.” But it will be too late…
Fifth, there is opposition in life. Everything has an opposite: up, down; high, low; hot, cold… everything. Good and evil are opposites. God is good. The devil is evil. This truth is revealed even in the spelling of their role names.
We are drawn to movies like Star Wars in part because they remind us (on that “soul-ular level) of the actual fight that goes on between good and evil every day here on earth. Most often our personal battles are not heralded, but they are real. “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” (David O. McKay)
Some battles are small, others are large and may feel desperate. We may feel shame for battles we have lost, but we haven’t lost. We have learned. We know better for the next time. The adversary teaches the doctrine of “It’s too late; there is no hope”. But truth teaches the opposite: “It’s not too late; there is plenty of hope.” Get out your lightsaber Luke. You know how to fight the dark side.
If you are reading this right now and you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, I am looking at you. I am looking in your virtual eyes and I want you to know this: you really, truly are loved. You are loved beyond anything you can possibly imagine yet. There are the equivalent of bleachers of people in heaven, ever watching, and cheering you on in this marathon of life (many of them are your ancestors who feel your pain with you).
It’s more than fine to run slowly. I once did a half marathon and walked for a seriously long time. Whatever! It was still an incredible experience. The views were magnificent. The sight of thousands of my brothers and sisters going forward together with me, like birds moving in formation, was a deeply spiritual experience.
This whole life was meant to be a deeply spiritual experience. You are made of spirt that can never die. We all are. We all need each other. We are like that flock of geese, flying towards home. If even one drops out, we are all impacted, because we are all connected. We need each other. We need you. Stay my beloved sibling. We will all be home soon enough.
People you can call:
Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for the NationalSuicide Prevention Lifeline
Text: HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line
Download the SafeUT app (it will connect a person directly with a crisis line)
The Family Acceptance Project: https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: www.sprc.org
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI): www.nami.org
Parent Resource Program: www.jasonfoundation.com/community/
Resources on suicide from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: https://www.lds.org/get-help/suicide