How Depression Affects Those Around Us – A Christian Perspective

In light of the recent suicide of actor, Robin Williams, my Facebook news feed has been filled with different articles on depression and people on my friend’s list giving their perspective on depression, suicide, Robin Williams as a man/actor, and several blurred lines in between.

From my experience, there are several ways to look at depression and suicide:

From an outsider’s perspective, as someone who has never struggled with depression, many of “us” (and I use that term loosely-it may not necessarily describe you) view it as something that sufferers need to just “get over.” People who do not have depression tend to view it as “everyone has a bad day now and then, put on your big girl panties and get over it.” We do not realize how nearly impossible this is to do. It is a clinical condition in one’s brain that causes them to be chemically imbalanced. You cannot simply get over that. It takes a lot of therapy, medication, and the biggest thing-ASKING FOR HELP. But how is anyone going to feel they can ask for help when people from the outside look at them as being “immature” and unable to just move on. Again, it isn’t as easy as you may think.

From the perspective of someone who has depression, the world is a dark place. Yet, most of the people I have known to suffer from depression do so in silence. What I am not quite sure of is if they do so because they are ashamed of the condition, because they do not think they need help, or maybe a combination of these ideas, but both can be extremely dangerous. For these people, it is not simply a need for friends or family, or even a need for God or religion (because Christians can suffer from depression too). It is just a need they cannot fill because their brain is chemically imbalanced. It is a constant battle to see the good in life. It does not matter if they have good health, a beautiful family, live a wealthy lifestyle, etc., they still cannot feel the joy that those things should bring.

Which brings me to my next topic…Suicide.

First of all, no one wants to kill themself. It comes from a place of desperation. I think we can all agree on that.

From the perspective of someone who has depression, that dark world begins to envelop your entire life. Everything is dark, everything is heavy, and many people get to the point where they feel there is no other way out. To live a life that is without love, joy, and hope-is that really living? Many people feel trapped, or as if they are drowning in life, and want to end their suffering. Is that so unreasonable? Many feel as though they are a burden to those around them and want to end their suffering as well.

Speaking of, from the outsider’s perspective, don’t many of “us” (again, used loosely) believe suicide to be a completely selfish act. So many people have argued that is selfish to leave your family behind and kill yourself. I used to be one of these people. Screaming about how selfish someone must be to leave behind a spouse and/or children to pick up the pieces after they’ve killed themselves. But, is it really that selfish? Most people (not all) put a lot of thought into this before it happens. They do not just wake up one morning and kill themselves-it is something that has been in the works for a long time. They may have attempted before and were unsuccessful or had thought about it repetitively for weeks/months/years. In the majority of cases, it is not a rash decision, which is why many times, a note is left. These people feel bad for leaving their families and friends behind, but also feel like a burden to them. They feel as though they weigh everyone else around them down. They do not want people to have to look after them and check in on them like children. They want to be “normal” but because they cannot seem to achieve that, they feel that the next best thing is to relieve the burden. In their minds, it is a completely unselfish act-they are thinking of those around them and not themselves. They want their friends and loved ones to be free.

That being said, most people do not mind taking care of a sick friend or relative. We want to get you help. We want to be there for you. You are not a burden to us. By committing suicide, you give those you leave behind a bigger burden-the “Could I have done more?,” “What should I have done differently?,” “Why didn’t I notice the signs?,” burden that can eat at them for the rest of their lives.

And then, of course, there’s the Bible and Christianity’s views on suicide:

7 People in the Bible committed Suicide:

AbimelechJudges 9:54
After having his skull crushed under a millstone that was dropped by a woman from the Tower of Shechem, Abimelech called for his armor bearer to kill him with a sword. He did not want it said that a woman had killed him.

SamsonJudges 16:29-31
By collapsing a building, Samson sacrificed his own life, but in the process destroyed thousands of enemy Philistines.

Saul and His Armor Bearer1 Samuel 31:3-6
After losing his sons and all of his troops in battle, and his sanity long before, King Saul, assisted by his armor bearer, ended his life. Then Saul’s servant killed himself.

Ahithophel2 Samuel 17:23
Disgraced and rejected by Absolom, Ahithophel went home, put his affairs in order, and then hung himself.

Zimri1 Kings 16:18
Rather than being taken prisoner, Zimri set the king’s palace on fire and died in the flames.

JudasMatthew 27:5
After he betrayed Jesus, Judas Iscariot was overcome with remorse and hung himself.

All of these stories, except for that of Samson, were looked at as unfavorable in the eyes of God. Samson did not necessarily commit suicide, he sacrificed his life and killed many of his nation’s enemies in the process.

In Exodus 20:13, the Bible says “Thou Shalt Not Murder” and isn’t that what suicide is? You are murdering yourself. It is hard to argue that suicide is not a sin, but in the eyes of God, sin is sin and he sent his son, Jesus, to erase our sins and make us new again. What would make this sin any different? The only thing that makes it a little different, to me, is that with most sin, we do something wrong and then look back on it later and say, “you know what, God, I did wrong. Please forgive me for doing ____ and help me to steer clear of that in the future.” When you commit suicide, you say “God, I’m sorry for what I am about to do” and then commit the action. Can you truly be sorry and repent for an action you have yet to accomplish? I’m not sure. Then again, while Jesus was on the cross bleeding and taking his last breath, he asked God to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34). Jesus repented for us-the human race-the sinners of this world before they even opened their own mouths to do so…

Many people debate this-and will continue debating it for centuries I’m sure. We cannot judge people; we do not have that right. We do not know what is going through someone’s mind when they become desperate enough to spill their own blood and die.

All we can do is be the best friends and family members to those around us.
Send someone a smile instead of a passing glance.
Help someone carry groceries to their car.
Lend an umbrella to someone in the rain.
Give groceries to the hungry.
Give blankets to the cold.
LISTEN to people when you talk to them-Truly Listen!
Try to show Christ in all we do and be a TRUE Christian. Be Christ-Like.
HELP THOSE AROUND YOU.

If you or someone you know is depressed or has thoughts of suicide, get help. Do not be ashamed. You are not alone. According to Discovery Health, there are about 121 million people worldwide who suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies. There is help out there! Do not be afraid to tell a friend. ASK FOR HELP.

Friends and Family, know how to help others and know your resources:
Need help? In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Here are a list of suicide hotlines by State: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
Here are a list of suicide hotlines by Country (International): http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

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