Depression & Suicide? An invitation to a complex conversation

by Jeff Saferite on August 14, 2014

depression_by_tataaat(http://tataaat.deviantart.com/art/depression-150543813)

DISCLAIMER: I offer this post publicly as an opportunity to join me in discussion. I want to listen and learn from others. I want to hear your stories, and I want to do my best to love you. I do not offer this to be demonized or caricatured. I trust you will give me that respect, and I hope you will join me in conversation with the goal of uplifting the broken. Much love and appreciation!

There is no doubt that depression and suicide is an incredibly difficult situation and no one wins. Matt Walsh (@mattwalshblog) wrote a blog that got blasted earlier this week. Katie Hurley (@katiefhurley) wrote one for Huffington Post that has been well received. I appreciate Katie’s and believe it offers potential healing for survivors of suicide. And I am honestly undecided on Walsh’s position. I do suggest less provocative titles though! I’ve witnessed the destruction of suicide, and I don’t believe anyone wins. My family has a history of suicide as well, and I personally battled depression while away at college. I overcame my issues while others in my family continue to struggle with theirs.

I’m not a fan of Matt Walsh’s tribe of Christianity but do appreciate his call for honest conversation and dialogue on the topic of suicide. I think his points are valid, and I do not think he is trying to be an insensitive donkey. The problem in our culture is that the popular (or “tolerant” or “sensitive”) view can so quickly dismiss the unpopular view through social media by demonizing or caricaturing it. We too quickly dismiss conversation when we do this, and our culture is robed of potential growth. 

The reality of depression and suicide is that it is so freaking COMPLEX. And this is the reason we really do need Matt Walsh (as much as it pains me to say this). I do agree with Walsh that depression and suicide are more than chemical imbalances. I do not believe that everything can be explained through science, as if science rules both cause and effect. I believe in the human spirit, mind, and will. This is not to suggest that I rule science out of the equation either. 

I also do not believe it is selfish as some suggest. I love my friend Adam’s picture of suggesting that holding a person responsible for suicide is like holding a 9 month old responsible for dropping her cup. When a person comes to the point of ending his or her life, they are at a point of hopelessness and have a tilted perspective on life. I believe that most really do think they are doing everyone a favor. They are tired of being a burden to people. But it is my view that we never suggest this is the best road. 

I agree with Walsh that life is and can be good and beautiful. But how can that be? We hear RW’s story of lifelong battle with depression and say, he was truly set free. I don’t know. I don’t know him and will not speak into his situation. That would be a jerk thing for me to do. But I can speak of my family. I am familiar with my story, my cousins stories, and my aunt/uncle. I don’t proclaim to speak for them, only of them. I do, however, speak for myself and my personal experiences.

In order for us to find good and beauty in life we must change our narrative. What we believe about life and what defines who we are continuously echoes in our mind. If we, or others, don’t add up to the image of life in our mind, then life is very despairing. If we have been violated, then we lose hope and trust for anything good in life. Hope and trust are essential elements that fuel our ability to overcome our darkest fears, thoughts, and emotions. 

I don’t suggest that this is easy. In fact, I think it may be the most difficult thing a person can do. I would not wish it on anyone in the world. I grieve those who have to live through it. The solutions are not simple. I am only suggesting that they are worth it.

DISCLAIMER: I offer this post publicly as an opportunity to join me in discussion. I want to listen and learn from others. I want to hear your stories, and I want to do my best to love you. I do not offer this to be demonized or caricatured. I trust you will give me that respect, and I hope you will join me in conversation with the goal of uplifting the broken. Much love and appreciation!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sara September 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I stumbled upon your blog today. As someone with post traumatic stress disorder who’s contemplated suicide, I appreciate the spirit behind your post. It’s hard to talk about this stuff, and it’s even harder, I think, to talk about it within a Christian community. And Walsh’s piece is one of the reasons why. I feel like he took an important and (as you rightly say) complex topic and treated it smugly and simply.

I can only speak to my own struggles. And for me, my healing process has been a tangled mess of healing and growth, re-injury and regression, joy and pain. I’ve been truly blessed to have people who’ve willingly entered into that complex mess to be with me in it. And in doing so, they’ve shown me a God who’s willing to do that to. A God who already has done that on the cross. A God who will keep doing doing it over and over and over again because He is faithful and good and bigger than this, even on days He seems small.

So for what it’s worth, I’m grateful for the clergy who are willing to address this hard stuff sensitively and kindly and compassionately.

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