• September 18, 2020

DAWNINGS: Let’s talk about suicide - Odessa American: Columns

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DAWNINGS: Let’s talk about suicide

The Rev. Dawn Weaks is the co-pastor of Connection Church in Odessa.

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Posted: Saturday, September 12, 2020 5:30 am

September is suicide-prevention month, so let’s talk about it.

I’ve lost friends to suicide, and officiated some of their funerals. It is a gut-wrenching loss like no other. But what makes suicide most difficult perhaps is the silence and shame around it.

Suicide most often occurs not because a person is weak, or immoral, or doesn’t care for others. In fact, many who commit suicide have been fighting the disease of depression for so long that they are simply overwhelmed by it.

If you’ve never been clinically depressed, you might not know that depression takes over your mind and can make you think in a way you never would. It can cause a psychic pain that is as excruciating as any physical pain can be.

So how do we help people in this much pain? First, end the silence around suicide. A major symptom of depression is isolation and pulling away from relationships with people with whom we were close.

If you suspect someone is struggling, ask the question: Are you thinking about suicide? You are not going to put the thought in their mind. You are taking the dark thought out of their mind and bringing it out into the light of day where they can be healed and helped. If your loved one acknowledges they are in pain, keep listening. Assure them that what they are experiencing is treatable and temporary. Call the national suicide prevention hotline to get help immediately at 800-273-8255 or text “Hello” to 741741.

Then, encourage your loved to use resources of counseling, medication, and faith as a recipe for improved mental health. Please notice I said counseling, medication, AND faith!

Too often people think that taking medication or going to counseling indicates a lack of faith that God will heal them. When I dealt with my own clinical depression years ago, thankfully a wise Christian friend said to me, “If you had a broken arm, would you just ask God to heal it or would you go to the doctor and get a cast put on it?”

The same applies to our mental health. Sometimes healing takes intervention and that, too, is a gift from our God. In this community, we are blessed with many free resources, including the 2-1-1 Hotline, the Family Resiliency Center and Ector County ISD counselors, who can help you or a loved one begin the journey back to themselves.

Most of all, know that God is with us always and nothing can separate us from God’s love. So don’t be afraid to talk about it and get the help you or a loved one needs. Our Lord will be with you!

Odessa, TX

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