I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide.
Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson —
His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”…
“Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [ ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”
I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn pride, but due to a chemical imbalance, a brain disorder that prevents them from getting the help they desperately need.
I did not know Jarrid Wilson personally, but his story is my own. As I consider how he lived and the way he died, I marvel how no one is immune from the tragic consequences of mental illness; and I am amazed at how intimately I can say,
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
; ; ;
This is my own story, as I share it in my book, Delight in Disorder:
; ; ;
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14)
; ; ;
I learned growing up the importance of being in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was taught to maintain this relationship with daily prayer and Bible reading, weekly worship, and regular fellowship with Christians. In spite of this, I often pulled away, turning inward in times of trouble, becoming reclusive when my feelings and beliefs didn’t line up. I believed I was made to praise God with my whole heart, mind, and being. Yet, my feelings were far from God, and I instead obsessed about all that was wrong with me and with the world.
Over the past several years now, I’ve often wondered how I could be in a personal relationship with the LORD and still have tried to take my life. Attempting suicide, while often prompted by disturbed minds (like mine), is an ultimate act of ingratitude for the life God has given us. Yet, after my attempt, I felt drawn closer to God more than ever. Perhaps out of desperation. More likely out of desire.
Some talk about the “assurance of salvation” – once saved, always saved. Others point to Bible passages that show it is possible to “fall from grace.” I’ve thought hard and prayed deep about the subject and have yet to come to any conclusions. I can only say that, in my life, while there have been plenty of times I’ve felt like giving up on God, God has never given up on me.
I don’t always feel secure in my salvation, but I do know the power of Christ’s saving love first-hand in my life.
God has brought me back from the dead. In Christ, I have hope for abundant life with him now and forever.
The Psalmists show us that those who look to the Lord for salvation experience how intimately God is connected to us. God sees our troubles even before they are troubles. God knows our grief and grieves with us. When we feel the most helpless, we can turn to the Lord and be swept up in God’s warm embrace.
When I came to my senses in the hospital bed after my suicide attempt, I had to face the reality that I had tried to abandon God. At the same time, I discovered God had not abandoned me. I say this not to brag about my standing with God – indeed I have no standing with God. I say this instead with tremendous gratitude and wonder that God would take notice of me—even me.
; ; ;
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK ) is an United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. After dialling 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the caller is routed to their nearest crisis center to receive immediate counseling and local mental health referrals. The Lifeline supports people who call for themselves or someone they care about.
; ; ;
You may note that I have used ; to break up the sections. This is intentional. Read more about it at Project Semicolon: Honoring Survivors of Suicide Loss.