If you’re thinking about suicide . . .

I take emails from readers thinking about suicide very seriously and answer them immediately with this response:

Thanks so much for your email. I appreciate your courage and honesty in writing.

First, as someone who has struggled with clinical depression for virtually all my life, I understand the deep, dark hole. And, as early as elementary school I, too, have been tormented by thoughts of suicide. (The only thing that kept me from attempting suicide was knowing that if I did, my parents would kill me!) And what makes it worse is feeling depressed when things are going well. Then I pile on myself guilt and self-loathing for feeling depressed when things are going well!

Second, I want to assure you there is hope. Here are some things I’ve found helpful.

1. See a doctor as soon as possible. If you feel you can’t afford it, call your county health department. There are free services in every community. If it is clinical depression, there’s medication. For instance, yesterday morning I woke up feeling so depressed and suicidal. I realized I had forgotten to take my meds the day before. Anti-depressants do make a huge improvement! (You may have to try several different meds before you find the one that works for you and the one without some of the unpleasant side effects, but keep trying.)

2. Talk to a trained professional. If you feel you can’t afford it, call your county health department. There are free mental health services available. I have benefited greatly from therapy.

3. Consider a support group. You’ll find support and encouragement—and realize you’re not alone in your feelings. There are even online support groups, but be careful on the Internet as not all the advice is helpful or accurate!

Finally, I’ve found that my faith gives me hope for today. I know it may sound trite, but God loves you and wants to be with you through this painful journey. He really does! I know that even though I don’t always feel it. (I’m certainly not here to proselytize—especially during a traumatic time—but this post may be helpful: Looking for love.)

I care about you and if you’d like to continue the discussion, please feel free to email me at jim @ jameswatkins.com. And, if you need immediate help, please call 1 (800) SUICIDE (784-2433).

Meanwhile, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

Very sincerely,

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