31 May Even Christian Kids Get Suicidal. It’s True.

 

During every single year of my counseling career—now approaching two decades—I’ve had at least one boy or girl come to me to say that they, or a friend, was considering ending their life.

Kids as young as third grade have described suicidal ideation— confirmed via depression indexes.  All are great children.  Most have wonderful parents.

Each time, the Lord impelled me to swing into action, contact their families, and connect them with reliable referrals.  By the powerful grace of our Good Father, none of those kids have ever followed through.

But we live in fallen world, where anyone can lose hope.  Modern case in point?  Famous preacher/author Rick Warren’s son took his own life a few years ago.  Christians are not immune.

According to an article titled “7 Bible Figures Who Struggled with Depression” (crosswalk.com), at various times King David, Moses, Jonah, and others wrestled with deep despair.  In my opinion, the two most powerful examples are Elijah and Jeremiah.

In 1 Kings 19:4—not long after a great faith victory against evil men—Elijah asked God to let him die (side note: beware of darkness’ attack after spiritual “high” experiences).

The Prophet Jeremiah, tasked with (and hated for) being the bearer of warnings for the High King’s disobedient people was known as “The Weeping Prophet.”

In Jeremiah 20:14 and 18, this worn out, mighty man of faith exclaims, “Cursed be the day I was born…. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?”

It’s strangely comforting for me to see the raw humanity in genuine heroes of the faith.  It also worries me.  For that reason, I want to make sure that you have some resources:

First, know the symptoms of depression for teenagers and adults: *

  1. Sadness or hopelessness
  2. Irritability, anger, or hostility
  3. Tearfulness or frequent crying
  4. Withdrawal from friends and family
  5. Loss of interest in activities
  6. Poor school performance
  7. Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  8. Restlessness and agitation
  9. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  10. Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  11. Fatigue or lack of energy
  12. Difficulty concentrating
  13. Unexplained aches and pains
  14. Thoughts of death or suicide

*helpguide.org/articles/depression/teen-depression-signs-help.htm

Next, be aware of signs of despondency in children. **

  1. Irritability or anger
  2. Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  3. Social withdrawal
  4. Increased sensitivity to rejection
  5. Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased
  6. Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep
  7. Vocal outbursts or crying
  8. Difficulty concentrating
  9. Fatigue and low energy
  10. Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
  11. Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
  12. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  13. Impaired thinking or concentration
  14. Thoughts of death or suicide

**http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children#1

If you see warning signs in a loved one, several resources are available to assist.  As you ask trustworthy, Godly folks to pray:

[In order of increasing severity]

  1. Set up a doctor’s appointment for a full examination and consultation.
  1. Contact a licensed clinician (at minimum, a highly-trained therapist… if not a psychologist or psychiatrist). ***
  1. If the person is in dire straits, know that you can–

 

*Call the crisis line at 1-800-576-7764,

*Take the person to an emergency room for observation, or…

*Call 911 so that the individual is not alone.

***Please feel free to contact me for a partial list of local professionals.

Finally, know that there is Hope:

Not one but TWO of my closest, kindest, most Godly friends lead successful ministries.  They, like Elijah, Jeremiah, and the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, fought depression and won.

Both went to faith-focused therapists.  One got some much-needed medicine.  Each has led many people to faith, and helped others grow much closer to Jesus.

If you worry about someone you love, remember:

There.

Is.

Always.

Hope.

Warmest blessings,

Jon Johansen

“I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.” ~ John Wycliffe

Did I miss an important idea or resource?  Please let me know.  🙂