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How to Help a Friend Who is Thinking About Suicide

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
September 15, 2022 6:00 am

How to Help a Friend Who is Thinking About Suicide

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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September 15, 2022 6:00 am

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34. And even though suicide is pervasive, the stigma around depression causes many to suffer silently. Tune in to learn key warning signs and find out how you can offer hope to loved ones battling despair. 


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Some say abortion is harmless even helpful for women but is that really true. As a Christian you know it's not ready to share with your friends what the Bible has to say. Especially after Roe V Wade nearly 5 decades of legalized abortion of hard every aspect of our society, including women join us online October 4 at 7 PM Eastern. As Alexander DeSantis speaks on how abortion harms our culture and disadvantages. Women register in focusonthefamily.com/lighthouse.

The following program is sponsored by Focus on the Family and is supported by the prayers and financial gifts of wonderful friends like you and Mrs. John Fuller and please remember, let us know how you're listening to these programs on podcast app or website.

It is worth staying in the game, you may not feel it today may not fill tomorrow, but there are answers stay in the game. That's Dr. Gregory Jantz and he joins us today on Focus on the Family to address a difficult but Wharton top do hope you'll stay with us as we discuss rising suicide and how you might be able to help a friend feels her hostess focus presidents and Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John the stance on depression and suicide in the United States are deeply concerning attribute to the church to according to the CDC, suicide rates increased almost 35% over the last 20 years.

That's hot down and one person dies by suicide in our country every 11 minutes and I know summer say why would you cover this topic because we need to, I think, is the Christian community.

We should be able to step into this gap and give spiritual, emotional and physical reasons for why it exists in one of the ways for someone to find their way through this. It's difficult even though this problem is pervasive. I think the point is the stigma of depression has really stuck around. I don't think we've dealt with how to help people so they carry that guilt and shame and oftentimes in the pews suffer silently as they don't want talk about it. Depression is a complex web and it can affect anyone at any time younger old humble successful. It doesn't matter. Today we want to equip you to notice and step in when a friend or family member is sinking into despair yeah and if you know someone struggling loved one or friend a really good starting place is our website@focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. You learn more about resources like a life to thrive.

Our free online curriculum to help you with teens who might be battling suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, we have caring counselors here and would be happy to connect you with one of them. It's a free service provided by our donor community and of the numbers 800 the letter a in the word family and as I mentioned our guest today is Dr. Gregory Jantz, a mental health counselor and best-selling author. He's written a number of books and one of those will form the foundation for conversation today is called so much to live for, how to provide help and hope to someone considering suicide. Greg welcome back so good to see you both.

Thank you, Jim fell into the right profession. You just bring light into a room when you're in it and that what a great thing to be that counselor got called into a wonderful profession. You know what, as I've gotten older I feel more passionate to. I'm really at this point we look about suicide rates and what's happening in the mental health area of our country. I'm all about saving lives you know. Let's start with the dimension. Some people don't live in the space they don't understand the contours, depression and suicide. I'm shocked that the second leading cause of death among 10 to 34-year-olds, the second leading cause of death is suicide. It's hard to even when we use the word suicide is an awkward word just to use. I have to tell you, this book was never on my radar. I've written 40 books that think about doing a book on suicide was nothing I ever thought I would do and then I started to look at what is going on here and I believe we need to address this and if you zero those stats and even deeper your 12 to 17-year-olds are some of our most vulnerable right now is so sad and it is the second leading cause of death nationwide for that age group.

So let's dig into that a bit. Just looking at the landscape.

Why is this on the rise. Why over the last 20 years. That's that.

I gave why are we seeing more depression, more suicide. Three things are seeing more of right now in the last 2 1/2 years, through pandemic, through all the time we've been going through and were seeing increase in depression and increase in anything related to anxiety and anxiety disorders. And thirdly, addiction addiction rates have never been higher. When I say addiction that includes alcohol. Alcohol cells are meeting all time records is not just a crazy thing to even say prescription drug misuse and addiction. I think we need to talk about digital addiction sure an auger fee so any form of addiction has skyrocketed as well so all-time highs of anxiety, all-time highs of depression and now addiction followed. Now the aftermath of that is increase in suicide rates. You even when you look again at the big picture Greg, a country that has so much in the course here in Canada. I would consider as in our cousins.

They too, like the Western culture and the nicest been so much blessing in so many ways. Why when we have so much that our daily needs generally are meant. I realize that some struggle in that space, sure, but generally, people can eat. People have shelter and in that environment where it's positive in meeting those basic needs. We have these emotional traumas right and traumas a good word for Jim, here's what we know right now as psychologists are using the new term called foreshortened future so that means that our generation. Right now, tend not to have hope for their futures. A foreshortened future. So there's apathy is an all-time high and this attitude is will what is it matter and then we mix in everything that our younger generations going through in social media, cyber bullying, everything that was wrapped into social media. We have a generation that has no hope for the future. That's the feeling yeah that's the bottom line and you know again, I saw loneliness index that they think you now.

I guess for 20 years or so. So you would think in a culture again this so well connected, seemingly loneliness is at a record high. Again, you're connected digitally, but you're not truly connected in the way were made by God Jim you're right on the more time you spend online and and thinking you have connections. Actually, the higher your loaning the score is. So you're really not connected yet professional help, obviously, is a good thing and we try your Focus on the Family to stress that for the Christian community, especially because some hold back thinking you know God will take care of this and that can be true and that's a wonderful thing but sometimes it takes a friend or family member to step in the gap as well.

Speak to the role of friend and family member can play with a person with depression or suicide ideation, exactly, you know, one of the things that we tend to get afraid of is even using that word, suicide, or even use the word depression and I just want to acknowledge.

If you've been a family member or you've had a loved one or it's in your circle of friends somebody's taking their life that has such a huge ripple effect. There is a grief that's difficult to even explain that you go through it and when you have a loved one, and so to deal with somebody who you think is contemplating suicide. It is a very difficult place to be size on acknowledge the awkwardness of that and to even have a conversation if you live a somebody you could feel real exhausted yourself like I thought I try to do everything that help them. They're not getting better. What do I do and you feel helpless and so that's just acknowledging family members can be in a real difficult place. Here's what you need to do here.

Some things always keep in mind stay in relationship stay in relationship with that person. Don't be afraid to bring up the topics tell me here's a question you can ask please tell me I love you I care so much about you when you tell me more about how bad is the struggle. Have them talk to you. One of the things it people were struggling as they they may not know what to say but they need to talk about it. So keep an open door. Don't give up on the relationship hold back from giving the simple answers that I wanted you to shake up, take this offer. We we want to fix it for them. Though we need to pray for wisdom. Gaylord God, give me the words what to say but stay in the game with them. Yeah, no, it's really good. I I'm thinking Greg how often we in the Christian community. Again, if we break arm we go to the orthopedist right they said it. I did that with Trent he was reanimating a broken and you know and other ailments like that of word prone to diabetes. We take medication we pray, we ask God to take that away or whatever the illness might be. It seems easier for us to attack that when it's physical right, it seems more difficult for us as Christians again to attack it in the emotional space and let me set the question up this way, Christians that I've talked to that feel like they are depressed or their feeling suicidal. They feel guilty about that. If God love me, you know why. When you take this away for me this is the most horrible feeling.

A person can feel he has a light. How can they coexist that I'm a Christian and I feel depressed. We need to remember that the fear and the despondency and just that sense of despair when you enter into despair. You no longer thinking rationally, you will you will feel unlovable, like God doesn't love me, my life doesn't matter my life doesn't matter to those around me. And so the suicidal thoughts start to lie to you. It's a lie from the enemy and it starts to say things to you that are not true. So we need to remember that despair brings distorted thinking and so that's what we don't make good decisions.

So if you're filled with suicidal thoughts or anxiety. You're either frozen you, I can't make a decision or you're really impulsive and neither is good right right and that's why you need to recognize the signs address the common risk deception that suicide is always linked to mental illness yes and actually believes that her mental illness. It means a lot of different things. So we think of mental illness, sometimes even the word like psychosis or person that may have a serious mental disorder that we know that that doesn't represent most of the suicides. Surprisingly, so what we do know is it's a person that's maybe had a lot of trauma there's been despair, there could be significant grief there afraid of a future crisis in their life and they see no way out remembers despair feels like I have no way out.

So that's more common than having quote a mental illness. You know it's interesting with Scripture were the Lord says in a fear not yet did he give you a spirit of fear, there's so much power in that, but you know, again, to the person that's experiencing that anxiety, that fear I could only imagine feels like they're trying to build a bridge and they don't have the lumber or the brick to put in the bridge. How do they address it where they can find the ability to create that mental bridge is a promise we have. I think the second Timothy one sadness as the Lord hasn't given us a spirit as you just said Jim spirit of fear, so that tells us fear there's a spirit of fear but of power, good love and a keyword here sound mind. How do I re-establish what's the building blocks for a sound mind will one of them.

I can't live in isolation, I cannot do this alone when I'm overwhelmed I want to isolate. I tend not to make good decisions in isolation, so I need to move away from isolation and if you're living with somebody and this is what they're struggling with. You need to talk to them. One of the myths and you've you led the soul nicely, but one of Mrs. if I say anything about suicide or ever use that word. I'll give them ideas that is clearly a math, you may want to open the door of communication say have you ever thought about taking your life and I know that's a big question, but so open up that door they need to talk about it now. If they say yes and they say yeah I and I have a plan okay we need to talk about what to do then. But don't be afraid of asking that question that could be opening the door of hope yeah that while were here at this point I think it's important for you to identify those stages of that downward spiral sure what are the will a stage of a downward spiral would be I isolate I withdraw. I move away from others. I may be start to put even things in my life in order times, you may be living with a person has been severely depressed, but then seems like all the sudden they're like doing better and it seems like there's a sense of relief.

Sometimes that's an indication that they start giving away things to start putting some quote putting their life in order, because they made a decision to take their life, and then when they do that, we look back and go what did I mess and so if you've ever been involved in this. You can do a lot of self blame, you can look back and go what did I miss and then we get into this, I should have known more area and we can blame ourselves. I can tell you once a person is made that decision. That's their is a decision they made unfortunately and you think about our words the matter of life and death and we can speak life over person we need to do that. But what they decided they decided that it is enough of family hasn't gone through that we talked about GM brother who committed suicide on the broadcasts on not sharing anything that I shouldn't but that was one of the residual effects them in the way the family beat themselves up for not preventing it, and that can be a heavy weight of guilt for family member if something happens I want to caution against the self blame, but you can focus your grieving and you go. What what'd I miss what should I have done differently and you can be and that just keep cycling that over and over and create a lot of depression for yourself. So we need to be really set free of that self blame, and this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest today is Dr. Gregory Jantz, obviously a very heavy sensitive topic.

We trust you give us a call if we can be of any help to you along the way, if you're dealing with struggles or you have a loved one who is in a tough place like Dr. Janice's been describing our number is 800 K in the word family or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast it while you're there, be sure to look for Greg's book so much to live for, how to provide help and hope to someone considering suicide. You describe a woman name Sheila in your book so much to live for Richard and what written positive title but the kind of fits this description describe what Sheila went through was Sheila situation was sued been depressed for a very long time. But then we saw a sudden, relatively sudden change in mood, which means it looked like she was getting better and then we cut to stop being so concerned and she was one that in this case had begun to make a plan so my point is, don't be afraid to keep asking the questions that was not the only question we ask, but stay in relationship see where they need to have help we want to be an instrument of of help, but were not the one to solve everything right. Let me turn to the risky behavior side of this to Josiah and I with suggest an incorrect me but I would think this is seen in boys and men were if they lean in this direction all of a sudden they can start.

I mean just crazy stuff, mountain climbing rope climbing without tethers and again I've seen some of that in our own family were those people that are losing that will be live. Decide not to discriminate in a risk at all and can do that in more recreational ways driving too fast. You know when a sports car, yes.

So sometimes when they've made the decision to kinda tease the idea and they start to increase risky behavior right can be any form of risky behavior. I've seen people start walking across a busy street.

You know, in front of cars like dating yeah so they're testing the notion there are those in who will get so close to doing something very drastic.

They're testing the notion now the warning is the more often I do that at one point I will make the decision.

One of the difficulties in working advance in around a little bit you know you this is such a hard topic and it's hard to be direct and it really asked those questions.

My problem would be, you know, every morning.

Hey, how are you doing what's going on. Most write him a scale of 1 to 10 that can be a bit of the direct to if I'm listening to myself that question was pointed to me meant daddy got a start every conversation like that it has to heavy my manager and that's why you never want to do it alone.

We always want to engage others in the process. So that's where the professional help.

That's where we have other loved ones. That's where we have a team of 3 to 5 people who are our inner circle there praying were seeking wisdom but but it can't land only on one person of your loved one your living with a loved one in this struggle. I understand there's a caregiver fatigue here you're waking up with anxiety because you don't know how are they going to be today Brian so that's a tough one to walk when I say stay in relationship it doesn't always mean I'm asking the same question every day but I am really learning to trust myself. Trust that God given intuition that if something seems amiss. I Satan trust yourself. Yeah, that's good, and it may be, do you have an appointment today or what's on your schedule for today. Always look to the future if they say yeah I have an appointment at 5 o'clock today, and I plan on being there. Okay, that's a good sign, but always look to the future that is really good. The, the idea of being director, how do we you know that again can be a little delicate balance. So if you're noticing those things. How do you encourage the loved ones to be as direct as possible. Well I always preface it with a statement of affirmation and it may look like I love you so much. I so care about our relationship.

Is it all right if I ask you a couple questions today so you're affirming them and then you're getting permission to ask a couple questions and you're going to say to really tell me how you're really doing.

I know there's been a big struggle but let me know. How are you really doing. They may have a hard time putting into words.

If it's a teenager you know their famous word is I find find find what you know, I'm fine, but you stated relationship with them and sometimes visit teenager taken out for a walk have a conversation create some physical movement while you're engaging with that teenager. The other delicate point in this relationship.

Let's say you do notice something if you are concerned about it you're doing everything you can to stay in tune.

I think that's pretty good word so you're not overbearing when you're just in tune and then you begin to think okay some professional help. A Christian counselor, pastor, it would be good for this, loved ones or this friend to encourage them to talk with that person that can be a really delicate discussion. How would you suggest a person that do that. Can I come alongside you and find somebody that I believe could be of real help right now and so were going to ask permission and then you can say you know I'm going to work on this with you but working to find somebody and maybe your taken them to the first appointment and maybe it is somebody in ministry.

Maybe it is a pastor but were going to begin to build a support group of 3 to 5 people now one of the things we haven't mentioned yet. It could be really important that we look at is there some significant trauma on her medical issues. A person has been given a tough diagnosis. For example, they may be at a place where they need to really deal with that medical diagnosis just that word cancer can be really scary and people start to think okay. Is it worth living.

And so that's that you were the irrational thinking Greco. I want to make sure we pepper this with God. Yes, that's so important.

I mean, God creates us. We believe in him. We accept his son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. This battle that can be there when you're struggling in that spot more take this away. Lord help me again.

We asked that early on about the guilt that comes with that.

But what how does God view that and what are the characters, maybe even in Scripture. David seems to be somebody, King David who struggled with depression at times the Psalms. Yes, to suggest that somehow you seem like he was up and down the Atlantic and all those things.

But when you look at those characters in Scripture.

How do you see God dealing with them in their own self-awareness about what was going on, even though they didn't have the diagnostic tools that we are I will two words come to my mind one preserve God preserve them and then there's the word prevail that were to have victory and you need to remember when you were dealing with mental health issues.

There is Lord Jesus, preserve the life and preserve the life and you have a plan for this life and it's a good plan and then prevail prevail means I'm going to win over the opposing forces and so that's under have victory here and you need to be speaking victory into that person's life. Pray Lord God give us the wisdom to know what is it they need what's being missed a lot of times a person who struggled with lifelong depression or anxiety.

There's been a couple missing pieces of the puzzle and and so, Lord, show us what needs to be addressed here and so I do see I see like one big puzzle where he put the pieces in their and God's can help direct that I'm thinking Greg is your speaking of that story in Scripture of the four friends who let their friend down through the roof in front of Jesus death. They were kind of doing what you're talking about.

They were having hope for the future. They were having faith on his behalf.

Perhaps to bring him to the manslaughter that for healing.

So really what I hear you saying is we can do this for somebody who is struggling even if it's uncomfortable for us even if we don't have a licensing of rats. Heisler's we can be part of that circle of friends that will help this person come a little closer to Jesus and have some hope for the future. I can tell you this, that's exactly right. You will not regret living you may not see the option right now but we have worked with so many folks through the years who lived as a lifelong pattern of suicide attempts and suicide ideation, and they have been set free from it and they will tell you life is worth living. I am so glad I'm alive. And so it is worth staying in the game, you may not feel it today may not fill it tomorrow but there are answers so stay in the game. I think one of the phrases.

Jean often uses now she's helping friends. You know, jump in and make sure they're diligent about looking at those around them that to their healthy but shall say suicide ends up being a permanent solution to a temporary problem and that's really the while yeah I mean that's powerfully stated in I think you know dips are going to occur. Emotional dips will occur, but that's why we doing the program today at Greg.

The caregiver, what do you recommend for them to stay emotionally healthy, robust, one of the care factors for them to consider is under Karen, yes, very important. Sometimes it caregiver. Jim forgets to take care of themselves right so that everything from sleep to food and your own self-care.

You've got to take care of yourself and skylight putting the oxygen mask on you first. So keep up the self-care. That means also keep in your mind and spirit renewed take those promises from the Scripture, a favorite verse or to put them on the old-fashioned 3 x 5 card.

I want you to carry those around you will not occasionally speak God's word out loud of truth. You gotta keep yourself renewed is good. Renewing your own soul. Biomass is a reading the word so good at Greg Letson with this question asked by the most critical. What encouragement would you offer those listening who are worried about the loved one yeah and I understand the worry list acknowledge the very difficult place that year at one advices. Let's not do it alone. He may be picking up the phone and making a phone call today taking some kind of action. But let's not do this alone. The other is pray for wisdom, the gotta show you what does this loved one need because we want to help supply the help meet those needs and be patient, be patient with yourself. God can be at work the holy spirits at work. A plan could be evolving them were not fully aware of that so but you are a part of the solution stay in the game is good at.

Greg, thank you for offering such great help and insight for people who were in a dark place or people who are noticing others in that dark place, and let me turn the listener the viewer. If that's you get a hold of us.

I mean everything is free.

Doing this out of Christian compassion and you get it touch with us. We can help you. We can connect you with a Christian counselor.

We have a referral system that we can refer you to to a counselor in your area who can pick up that relationship and we have a tremendous number of resources including Greg's great book so much to live for that we want to get in your hands if you can join us in the ministry and be part of the ministry will send it to you as our way of saying thank you for a gift of any amount but we don't want that to be the issue if you need it will send it to you. Just call us and asked for it and will get into your hands. Trusting others will take care of the cost were phone call away. The numbers 800 K in the word family or stop by Focus on the Family.com/broadcast and as Jim mentioned, we do have some tremendous securing Christian counselors here would be happy to take a number give you call back at a time that works for you and make sure that you have that that conversation with them. Also, as I mentioned earlier alive to thrive is our free online curriculum for parents and youth leaders working with teens.

It will give you some great tools and again you'll find that@focusonthefamily.com/broadcast Greg. Again, thank you for being with us. This is been really helpful, although difficult, thank you.

It is difficult and there is so much to live for.

I'm am passionate about saving lives. I know that thank you and on behalf of Jim Daly, and the entire team here. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Some say abortion is harmless even helpful for women but is that really true. As a Christian you know it's not ready to share with your friends what the Bible has to say. Especially after Roe V Wade nearly 5 decades of legalized abortion of hard every aspect of our society, including women join us online October 4 at 7 PM Eastern is Alexander distinctive speaks on how abortion harms our culture and disadvantages. Women register focusonthefamily.com/lighthouse


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