Above is a link to an important blog by Phil Monroe (Musings of A Christian Psychologist). I agree with Phil– churches need to address openly the topic of suicide. Dave and I have been blessed to attend a church where the pastor is authentic and invites members to be authentic and share their struggles.
After more than 7 years of growth in therapy we recognized that we needed a church where Dave and I could share about our struggles. For him to share about his journey in overcoming suicidal thoughts as his main coping strategy, and for myself to find a place where I could talk to others about my challenges living with a spouse battling depression and suicide. Dave says that he feels at home at this new church, and I understand it as being able to be real, and talk openly about his struggles. We both see the Pastor and congregation as genuinely desiring to offer compassion and grace to address whatever brokeness a person is struggling with.
To get a feel for the church, Dave and I attended a mid-week bible study where Dave felt safe to share a couple of times in his small group about his journey, his attempts and his process of overcoming his long-ingrained suicidal thoughts. He was able to talk about this topic because the study looked at Judas, in not a condemning way, but from an empathetic, compassionate stand point.
The Sunday following that study, the pastor preached about Judas in a sermon entitled “Why Jesus Couldn’t Reach Judas” Matt 27:1-5, that was a little before Easter. A couple of weeks ago he preached on depression using Elijah as an example (1 Kings 1:11-19). At the end of his sermon he said the church was going to start a support group for people to openly talk about their psychological/emotional challenges.
Dave said he wants to join the group. And I will too. It’s my heart to find ways to decrease the stigma around suicide–which I believe keeps people from seeking the help they need. This group may be one way for Dave to start talking about and receiving acceptance, grace and compassion. Dave and I are looking forward to this new journey and to see what God has in store for us.