IF YOUR CHILD IS CONSIDERING SUICIDE, OR IF YOU THINK THERE’S EVEN A POSSIBILITY THEY COULD HURT THEMSELVES, PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.
When I was in college, I almost committed suicide.
That choice was years in the making. I grew up feeling like my Mom and I were in a fox hole, protecting my siblings from my Dad’s anger and abuse. The bullying in 5th and 6th grade certainly didn’t help my self-esteem and only added to the trauma. By the time I reached college, I was done.
The pain inside reached its breaking point. I remember standing under a scorching hot shower to feel physical pain instead of internal pain.
My parent’s separation was the final straw. Though I knew it was the good and right thing, the last shred of stability I felt I had was gone. And so I contemplated ending it all. I knew how I would do it and thought about it constantly.
Many of our children live with unspoken pain. They might seek suicide as an out because they see no other way. They aren’t selfish. They are hurting deeply. To combat the pain, they need to feel loved and know they are not alone.
The love and belonging we crave for them can only come from one source.
You know the right answer: God.
How do we do that, though? How do we help them to realize the depth of His love for them, so that when the pain comes they know where to turn?
WE NEED TO KNOW HIM
First, we have to have a relationship with Him ourselves. We can’t introduce them to a God we don’t know. A real relationship with God is one that goes beyond the “God is great. God is good…” prayers. It takes time and showing up. Just like you would show up to have coffee or take a walk with your friends, you have to show up regularly and spend time with God. Resources like the Everyday Prayers journals and Prayer Club are a great place to start!
THEY NEED TO KNOW HIM
Second, we have to introduce our kids to God. Taking them to church is just the beginning. It has to go beyond the walls and into their hearts. Often we try to reach their hearts with what reaches ours. I love to read and research and can nerd out on a Hebrew word study. My sons, not so much.
In my ebook Sacred Pathways for Kids co-written with Christie Thomas, we talk about nine different ways our children may relate to God; ways like activist, sensate, intellectual, caregiver, enthusiast, traditionalist, naturalist, ascetic, and contemplative. When we learn to connect our children with God in the ways He has made them, we help them see He is a God they can relate to. He is a God who is actually present with them where they are instead of some preacher in a pulpit they may or may not understand. For example, one of my sons is a naturalist and sees God most clearly in nature. When I talk to him about God, I often relate it to nature, and those ideas speak to his heart.
THEY NEED TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE IN HIM
Lastly, we want to remind our children who God says they are and how much He loves them.
As we seek to help them, let’s begin with prayer, and pray these prayers over our children where they can hear us. You can adapt many verses in the Bible to prayer. Here are three of my favorites for helping our children know they are loved by God.
Lord, may my children know they are wonderfully made for a purpose by You. (Psalm 139:14-16)
Lord, may my children know You are with them, and they are precious and loved by You. (Isaiah 43:4-5).
Lord, may my children know You loved them enough to send Your son to forgive their sins, and that nothing they do can separate them from Your love. You say they are holy, loved, and chosen. Help them remember this above what anyone else says about them. (Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 1:3-4, 7)
When they know Who and Whose they are, it has the power to change everything.
One morning, as I was once again considering ending my life, I felt God wrap His arm around me pulling me back from the edge. At that moment my perspective shifted. The pain was still there, but I knew it wasn’t alone. The problems still persisted, yet I knew I was loved and I had a Guide who would walk with me through the pain.
That walk over the last 20 years has been long. I’ve seen counselors and taken depression medication. There is nothing wrong with getting your kids the help they need. As we pray for them, we need to ask God for wisdom to know which is the next right step and for the courage to take it.