“Sometimes, even to live is an act of courage.” Seneca
I wonder if you’ve ever felt like that?
Those days when it takes all your energy simply to make it through the day.
Those days when tears come faster than smiles.
Those days when the joy of the Lord that’s proclaimed proves elusive.
Recent figures from a study conducted at the University of York showed that half of all ambulance calls outs have been because of suicide attempts or self-harm, whilst another study found that 1/3 of students had experienced suicidal thoughts.
It seems that the darkness of suicidal thoughts and feelings is spreading, with growing numbers expressing a desire for an ending.
And whether you are experiencing it yourself or watching it in a friend; it’s scary.
Thoughts of suicide are scary; and speaking of suicide can be scary.
But suicide and suicidal thoughts thrive on silence. The silence of stigma and shame.
So we need to break the silence.
It’s not easy, but it’s vital.
Sometimes, we can hold the thought of suicide, of an escape as a kind of comfort blanket -
Friedrich Nietzsche writes:
"The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night."
Seeing in and through the darkness of feeling suicidal requires us to express our thoughts; whether on paper or voice or paint.
As Cleopas found walking on the Emmaus Road lamenting that their hope was lost, he found himself nourished by food, companionship and the presence of God.
He spoke of his despair “We had hoped”.
Jesus walked alongside him and gave him what he needed.
Jesus opened the scriptures for him in a new way.
And in the midst of it, Cleopas saw Jesus in a new way.
We need to speak up about how bad we’re feeling; whether it be to a friend, university staff or a doctor.
We need to let our friends care for us, and get the support and medical help we might need.
We need to try and seek God in the midst of it; maybe starting with the Psalms, because when we do seek God, we see Him in a new way.
Our pain may not change, our illness might remain, but our hope can be sustained through the darkest of nights with the promise that dawn breaks.