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Jesus won't stop you from killing yourself.

Three weeks ago, my 19-year-old cousin and his girlfriend broke up on a Friday night. Distraught, he drove to a popular vista overlooking an apple orchard, pulled out a gun, and shot himself in the head.

It’s a total shock!
We never guessed he’d do something like this!

He had so many friends!
His family loved him!
He accepted Jesus!

All true. None of it matters. He was suffering and felt nothing could take away his pain. So he ended everything.

It’s been said suicide is selfish; the victim leaves those behind with a life of heartache. Let me tell you something. Someone deep in suicidal thought is not thinking of anyone else’s pain - only of stopping his or her own.

How do I know?

Because I’ve been there.

The details aren’t important. Over the years thoughts would overwhelm, then slip away. Every time I believed the suicidal thinking was banished for good. Inevitably, like an unexpected tsunami, they’d crash and my insides would flood and I never felt as if I could hold on to that stable pillar much longer.

Last summer, another tidal wave hit me - this one swifter than any one previous.

Take me now, Jesus, my gut churned as my legs propelled me to the ocean.

The girls. The girls. You cannot do this to the girls, the voice repeated in my brain. Two daughters growing up without a mother is really shitty. The last thread of logic in me grasped that much.

Miraculously, I dragged myself back to the car and texted my therapist for an emergency appointment. With her help, healing began. Much verbal processing, strategies and tools and meds have kept my life from dropping to the bottom of hopelessness I felt last summer.

Today I can proudly and truthfully declare I will not die by my own hand.

I love Jesus. My cousin loved Jesus.

I tell you this because Jesus did not keep me from this mental suffering and he won’t stop you from killing yourself. In fact, because I knew the unconditional love and peace of Jesus, I was ready to be with only him. I wonder if my cousin, too, had these same thoughts.

Christians preach the love of Jesus. They babble on and on about who he was when he was here and who he will be when he comes back. But what about who he is right now? While we’re dealing with our own hells right here on earth - and trust me, others see many, many, many worse hells than I’ll ever experience - how are we supposed to see Jesus in the present? How do we feel him? How do we hear him? And when we can’t, when we become so desperate and he seems so far away, won’t we do anything we can to be near him?

I don’t know how to stop suicides. The reasons for wanting to be gone are as multiple and varied as those dying too soon. But promising a perfect heaven where everything is void of pain may not be the most persuasive method for one not wishing to be on earth any longer.

Jesus won’t stop you from killing yourself and maybe, as Christians, we need to be okay with not knowing how to answer questions about suicide. Having been there myself, and now reeling with grief from losing my cousin, all I know to offer friends and family is a hand on the shoulder as they cry. All I can say is, “Yeah. Jesus thinks this sucks, too.”

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