My friends I write to you as I see the pandemic and the winter months starting to take a toll on people and especially their mental and emotional well-being. This last year has been exhausting and has placed a strain on many people. I must give a warning that what I write next could be overwhelming for some to read and it deals with death. If that is something you don't want to read about please feel free to read no further.
I got a call this week that a chaplain was needed at a local hotel because a person had committed suicide. I went and ministered to loved ones in the parking lot of the hotel as the mourned a father and a husband who was laying on the ground. I received a text last night from a very close and dear friend that I worked with at my last church letting me know that her daughter had taken their own life. My son and her are the same age and they had occasionally played together years ago. These two different people probably did not have a lot in common on paper. Their ages were far apart, their views on things were probably different, and what they were struggling with was not the same. Yet, they both succumbed to the toll of what was happening in their lives that was overwhelming them. It is easy to think we know who is struggling and who is not. Sometimes we can see something might be wrong and sometimes there are no signs. We also sometimes are personally struggling and we don't want to let anyone in or share what we are struggling with. So often if we are willing to let someone in, if we are willing to share with someone, we can get some relief. We don't have to be alone.
It is with that in mind that I remind everyone who reads my blog that I am someone you can always talk to about what you are struggling with, or that is bringing you down, or is overwhelming you. I know sometimes people think a pastor will judge them and so they won't share with them. We are living in a fallen broken world that is filled with struggle and sin. We need others with us on our journey and I promise no matter what it is I will talk with you and pray with you about whatever you are struggling with. You do not have to be alone. We can journey together.
So often people feel church is for the people who have it together. Really the church is for those that know that they don't have it together, for those that know that they can't do it on their own, for those that know that without something greater than themselves it is hard to move forward some days. The church is for those that know they fall short and know they need to rely on the grace of God. The church is a place where we should be able to share and know those we share with will journey with us.
At the same time sometimes it is easier to talk to and share with someone you don't know at all. If that is what you need to do I want to provide you with some resources. These might also be resources you have on hand to give to someone who might need help. One way we let people know that is alright to not be alright is share with them where they can get help. It lets them know we care enough that we are willing to point them in a good direction, it helps let them know they are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
~Serves a general audience~
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Or text: 301-738-2255
Or chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat
Institute on Aging - Friendship Line
~For the elderly~
Institute on Aging’s 24-hour toll-free Friendship Line is the only accredited crisis line in the country for people aged 60 years and older, and adults living with disabilities. The Institute also makes on-going outreach calls to lonely older adults.
Suicide Prevention in College
~For college students~
A Valuable Resource Guide on Emergency Assistance, Warning Signs & Prevention of Suicide in College Students
US Dep't of Health & Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
~For people struggling with substance abuse and mental health~
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
This is not an exhaustive list of organizations or resources. There are many wonderful resources out there to help people depending on what they are struggling with. You don't have to be alone. Take time this week to reach out to someone and let them know they are not alone. They don't have to be someone you know is struggling. Sometimes just reaching out and letting someone know that someone else cares prevents them from getting to a worse place mentally and emotionally. Let us help others know they are not alone.