Sometimes, death becomes such a promising alternative that many choose to bring it upon themselves. It is a horrifying thought.
This does not change the fact that at times the chronically depressed consider suicide as a viable option. So, offering some basic tips on this issue seems relevant.
- The typical protocol to assess suicide is first to ask if it is something the counselee has ever considered. If yes, then the next step is to ask if there is a plan. If a person has actually formulated a “how to” of suicide, then the risk for carrying it out increases. In these circumstances, it is wise to do the following:
- Ask about the plan. Have the person describe it to you.
- Begin to formulate a counterplan. For example, if a woman says she plans to overdose on her antidepressants, then someone needs to immediately begin to manage her medications for her. The plan will offer clues that can serve the counselor, pastor, and family to help prevent the impending tragedy.
- If suicide is a risk factor, the individual should be monitored at all times until the desire to harm one’s self has passed. Pastors, family, and church members will need to pull together to ensure the person is not left alone.
- Ask the person at risk to sign an agreement to seek help before they take any action that would harm them.
- When the situation is extreme and a support system is not available, hospitalization may be the only option.
- Take any threat of suicide seriously.
While these are just a few examples of what to do when suicide is a looming temptation, because we are human, we are forced to acknowledge the fact that suicide happens even in the midst of the most rigorous, loving care. We must do everything in our power to help someone press through this stubborn darkness, but the tragedy of suicide among the despairing will likely not disappear as long as any human soul is susceptible to being tormented by depression.
Yet, there is hope! Even in this darkest hour, when a loved one has taken their own life, when family and friends feel the battle has been lost, the light of Jesus’ faithfulness will infinitely transcend the darkness. When He walked among us, He gave us this powerful, blessed promise that not even suicide can cancel:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37 – 40)
The hope of the depressed believer, even when suicide is the cause of death, is not the believer’s faithfulness, but God’s. According to Jesus, the Father’s will is clear. Everyone He has given to Jesus will come to Him, will be accepted, and will be raised to eternal life in Jesus Christ. Suicide does not wield the power to void this covenant promise. So even in tragic death, even in suicide, Jesus’ faithfulness and the magnificence of His gospel have the last say.
His faithfulness will hold when ours desperately fails. This is faith. This is the gospel. This is the sacred story of the cross. This is biblical counseling.
— Jeremy Lelek, adapted from his contribution to Scripture and Counseling (Bob Kellemen, General Editor; Jeff Forrey, Managing Editor)
How to Use This Book
Scripture and Counseling will equip you to minister the truth and power of God’s word in biblical counseling, soul care, spiritual direction, and pastoral care. Divided into two parts, Part One will help you develop a biblical view of Scripture’s sufficiency for “life and godliness.” Part Two will give you practical guidance on how to root your counseling in Scripture. Scripture and Counseling is part of the Biblical Counseling Coalition series.
Scripture and Counseling
God’s Word for Life in a Broken World