I Called the Suicide Lifeline

A couple weeks ago, I called the National Suicide Lifeline.

I was in a really bad place. I was ready to go, permanently. After two rings, I hung up the phone. I was too scared to talk with someone. I had heard sometimes they call the police on you, and really, I was afraid of what my neighbors would think if I was carted away by red and blue lights. But the very act of calling got me off the floor. It was enough to get my feet moving.

I know I’m not supposed to talk about this. I’m the guy who helps people. How can anyone trust me again? Will I be fired? What will they really say about me? What sort of hate mail will I get?

I worked at a church once where I told the lead pastor that I was suicidal; I was laughed off. Maybe everyone is tired of hearing the word “stigma,” but it still exists. Everyone says they care, but anyone can act like they care online. Up close, mental illness is an ugly thing that is hard for everyone involved.

Here’s how it happened: Someone had said something to me in anger, and of course, the person apologized. I felt in some ways I had deserved it. I was fine for a few days. And maybe for somebody who is “normal,” or maybe on any other day, it should’ve all been fine. But the words caught fire in my brain, got louder, loomed over me, and dug hooks in my stomach. I took ten Advil. I wanted to take the rest of the bottle. So I called the lifeline.

I have to make clear that none of this is the other person’s fault. I would never put that on someone. That’s too much responsibility for words said in a heated moment. I am, in the end, responsible for how I choose to react. I cannot rely on good or bad words to determine my health. And I realize my mental health has been a lifelong issue and will continue to plague me. No one should feel obligated to walk on thin ice around me. I have learned, not always willingly, to be resilient in a cruel world.

At the same time, words are powerful. They have the power to heal and destroy. Words are meaningful to me. They should not be used lightly. And I’m not impervious. I’m not some tough guy who gets tougher with every punch. There’s always that one exhausted, fragile morning when I can fall apart fast. I can’t be alone in that.

Whenever I think my battle with depression is getting easier, I’m reminded that progress doesn’t go on an upward track. It’s a real one-step-forward and two-steps-back situation. More like a thousand steps down. My progress on a graph would look like a fiscal nightmare. I’m not sure it’s healthy to look at progress on a graph this way. I can only see the one step in front of me. That’s about all I can stand to take right now.

I kindly and graciously ask that you pray for me. I know the world around us is blowing up. There is a lot to pray about. My problems are small. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky to laugh and cry and eat today. May you still send a two second prayer? And I hope you may be kind to someone today. The only words that are worse than the harsh ones are the kind ones left unspoken.
— J.S.

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15 thoughts on “I Called the Suicide Lifeline

  1. I would trust you anytime, sir!

    It takes a strong real person like you to help other people because you are authentic enough to be in need of help and reaching out for it!

    Well done for picking up the phone! Please do it again if you need to and seek help. Reach out to someone you trust, and if they betray your trust, keep reaching out again. You will find eventually that helping hand guiding you through the valley.

    I am a believer, but I stay away from the cheap words of “I pray for you” or “God is with” bla bla bla… But I pray that you have a TANGIBLE human being by your side, helping you through this time of crisis.

    And, no, the world around us is NOT exploding, we just need to switch of the TV and Internet sometimes, because the media propaganda is the same as it has always been: NEGATIVE and DOOM and GLOOM!

    The sun is shining, even behind the clouds, children are being born every day, butterflies land on flowers. Life wants to be lived in all its forms, through all its valleys and mountains.

    Please keep writing, speaking, sharing and picking up the phone, no matter what the neighbours think.

    A suicide helpline won’t call the police on you unless you give them your location and a clear word that you are now, then and there planning to end your life. If you just share how you feel, they will listen without giving too much advise, but they will not call the police, as they are trained that they are not the saviour, but a listening ear. Sharing about suicidal feelings will take the sting out of it, because you bring it to light! Well done, I take my hat of you!

    Thanks for sharing! Appreciate it.

    LNG

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  2. Prayers for you JS. You are a beacon and even in the struggle you are a light. Walking this out with transparency is amazing. Praying for the battle to end victoriously.

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  3. I will pray for you. Don’t listen to the lies that tempt you to leave before your time is up here. I used to work in the field and one thing that might help going forward is to have a plan of what you will do as you notice you are getting into a dangerous place. Those who haven’t been where you are don’t know how hard it is to act on such a plan when it’s time, but I pray you find a way to defeat the darkness and confront the lies that you are not God’s precious son. God bless you for all you do for others. I’m starting program in fall to become hospital chaplain and will read up on your experiences as inspiration.

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  4. JS, even in the middle of your pain, you are not alone. Daddy God, holy is your name, your kingdom come in the life of JS as it is in heaven. Wrap your loving arms around him and let him know you call him your beloved and love him with an everlasting love. Let him know you are there with him as he walks through the valley of the shadow of death and your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort him. Let him know you prepare a covenant table before him in the presence of his enemies (depression, suicidal thoughts) and they cannot touch him as you pour wine into his cup until it overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow JS, all the days of his life and he will dwell in the house of Yahweh forever! Thank you Lord for giving him a hope and a future. So be it through Jesus Amen!

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  5. *hugs* I hope you find something that makes you feel life is worth living. I hope you can feel the love people have for you, more strongly than the words some people use. I hope you have the chance to be hugged by physical people, not just online. I hope you let yourself get enough sleep and enough real food and enough time to watch the clouds. I hope you can remember, even at the bottom of the pit, that there is a sun and that it will shine again and the dark will go away and you will have more energy.
    My prayer for you, as for everyone else: “Thank you for staying with JS and please let him know you’re there”

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  6. I’m praying for you, too. I’m relatively new to your blog, but I’ve been inspired by what I’ve read. And I’m thankful you lived to write this post and many more to come. Because people need your words. We need your authenticity. Thank you for helping us by bearing your soul.

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  7. People have different levels of susceptibility to hurtful words. Those that say them don’t care how much they hurt someone or they don’t realize how hurtful their words are. If they apologize and I believe they are sincere I try to disregard the hurtful words. sometimes people say things because they are upset by something else that has nothing to do with you. If they apologize this is probably the case. I have known people that profess to be christians but don’t live a christian life. Those that don’t apologize are not worth my hurt feelings or trying to figure why they attack me. I ask God to protect me from their tongue of evil and ask God to remove them and their evil tongue from my thoughts. Just remember that God said that vengeance is his. I do try to warn others that come in contact with them about their attack so they can avoid them and their attack. After that the best thing to do in to put them out of your mind. Concentrate on the good Christian friends you have and try to disregard those that try to hurt you. Remember that you have more people that care for you and want the best for you than those that are full of hate. I will be praying for you.

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