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Suicide: When Hope runs out

We are approaching a time of year – Christmas and the New Year – which has tragically become a time noted, not just for its joy, but also for suicide. And this county has seen its share of suicide in recent years.

Suicide is often seen as the only way out: the only way out of a miserable existence, the only way out of love’s shattered dreams, the only way out of pain, the only way to escape the hurt of the past or the burden of the future.

Left behind is a trail of grief, destruction and unanswered questions. All too often the refrain is, “If only we’d known” or “If only we’d done more.”

What can we do? What are the warning signs? How can we be of help?

In the third of our series of Autumn talks, Dr Andrew Collins, psychiatrist and Christian counsellor, will be dealing with this topic.

He will be dealing with the risk factors – what is it that we need to look for? He will be looking at various strategies for helping those struggling with suicidal thoughts. In particular there will be a section dealing with young people and the factors involved.

There will also be help and guidance for those affected by suicide, who face the feelings of guilt, anger and confusion that are part of the aftermath.

As a pastor, I see people in the Bible who have felt the same despair.

"I have had enough, Lord. Take my life.” Those were the words of Elijah the great Old Testament preacher. Job too wrote, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest.” An unknown troubled soul wrote in Psalm 13, “How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?”. And in Psalm 116 another who knew the long dark nights of the soul wrote, “Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow.”

God’s word does not paint a rosy picture of life. It deals with the harsh realities that we have to live through. But it does provide hope where hope is gone, and promise where there is only despair.

The song writer in Psalm 116 who wrote, “Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow” also went on to write,

“Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Please, Lord, save me!’
How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and then he saved me.
Now I can rest again, for the Lord has been so good to me.
He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord's presence as I live here on earth!”

This life is not easy, but we do not have to live it by our own strength. We can have the almighty power of God to help us.

Dr Andrew Collins will be speaking on the topic “Suicide: When Hope runs out” on Tuesday 30th October, at 8pm in the Day Centre off Oliver Plunkett Road. You are all welcome to come along.

Mark Loughridge –