You can’t get through to them.
You keep telling them that things will change.
That there is hope waiting for them.
But your pleas fall on deaf ears.
You're frightened and you’re frustrated.
They feel completely lost to you.
Having a friend struggling with thoughts of suicide can be a very dark path to walk and it can feel like a huge responsibility.
But hear this:
You are not alone.
You are not responsible for your friend’s life.
One of the passages I love is when Paul and Silas are in jail singing God’s praises when the prison breaks open and the jailer, fearing that he’ll be left to deal with the authorities when they realise they’ve lost all their prisoners, he goes to fall on his sword and take his own life.
Paul’s intervention is set firmly in the context of his praises.
I can’t imagine feeling very charitable towards the people who were imprisoning me, but Paul’s focus is firmly on the God he was serving and with that comes a perspective.
When we’re helping our friends, it can feel all consuming. We let ourselves invest completely in those who need us and sometimes we forget who it is that we need. The love and care we can give out has to be from a place where we’re being filled by God.
Paul didn’t do it alone.
Paul was with Silas as he spoke to the jailer, and although it’s he that does most of the talking, we have to be aware that we help others best when we do it in the context of community.
Whether it be in your church small group or your flat, make some time to get together with them to pray and support one another; you might also need to specialist support yourself to cope with your own feelings and health.
In addition, it’s important that your friend gets professional support as they try and deal with their situation. Whether it be calling Nightline, seeing the Students Pastor at church or the local mental health team; it’s not your job to be all things to all people.
We can’t save anyone.
What we can do, is hold out a light to lead a friend through the dark.