Considering how much my last post on suicide is being read combined with how many personal emails I am getting from the P&P audience about this, I thought I would update this post and share it with you all.

There have been few times when I feared for my life—I mean really feared for my life. I remember one time more than any other. It was the day that I found Angie, my sister, with a gun in a hotel room. It was a miracle that I found her before she had a chance to use it on herself. On the way home in my car, I drove as my sister cried. It was not a sad cry of repentance but a cry of anger and despondence. Her dejection and frantic embitterment caused me to lock the doors so that she would not jump out of the car while driving. “Why did you come?” She screamed at me.” Don’t you understand? I have to die!” I tried to stay silent and concentrate on the road. It was not safe on I-35 that day. I imagined her reaching over and pulling the steering wheel sending us both into an overpass. I really thought that she would. I tried to fight back the tears as her pain created great empathy for her death. By this time in the story, I almost wished that I had not found her. I almost wished that I let her take her life.

This was the argument that she had made to me many times over. “Michael, no one will care. . . . At least everyone will soon get over it. All of your lives will return to normal soon. But my pain will be over.” We, my mother and sisters, would try to respond telling her that the pain that she has now will be multiplied to all of us if she were to die. “Is that what you really want?” we would ask. She did not believe us.

Suicide is a form of death that cannot be likened to any other. There are many tragic ways to die, but to be at a point where one is willing to take their own life—when the fear of living becomes greater than the fear of death—has no comparison. To have a loved one who commits suicide produces sadness, pain, and guilt that rivals the pain of the one who commits it. “What did I do wrong?” “Why couldn’t I save her?” “Why couldn’t it have been me?” These are all common thoughts of those who have experienced such in their lives.

My mother was the first to go. She tried to be strong during the first few months after Angie’s death, but we could all tell that consolation was far from her. The guilt of a mother, justified or not, is incredible in such situations. Her relationship with God, while present, was somewhat apathetic. “I will follow him, but I don’t like him,” she would say to me. She never slept. She laid on the couch all night long with the TV on. She would cry often, but try to be strong around us. She just wanted to be with Angie.

After two years, her health was not good. While her mother, my grandmother, has lived into her nineties, sorrow was attempting to take my mom’s life early. She would have been happy for it to have defeated her, but such was not the case. Sorrow only took half of her. She suffered from an aneurysm and an ensuing stroke in 2006. While few people survive a brain aneurysm, my mother did. The doctors said that it was the worse one he had seen in 25 years of surgery. They had to remove much of the frontal lobe. She may have been okay had not a stroke followed due to the blood around her brain. When all was done, when sorrow had run its course on my mother’s body, she had lost speech, her right eye sight, and she was completely immobile on her right side. She cannot walk, talk, and we still wonder how much she knows. All day long she sits in a chair in her living room watching the same movies over and over. While she can sing an entire song, she cannot put a sentence together and she seems pretty disconnected to what is going on around her.

My father was next. Guilt. Guilt of a father who did not really know his daughter. Guilt of a father who did not rescue her from her pain. Guilt of a father who was the last one to see her walk out the door. Guilt of a father who thought that things would just turn out positive like they always have. Shortly after Angie’s death, my dad began drinking again. He just drowned himself in his sorrow. Self-pity is an alluring friend. Within two years he had three DUIs.

Mom’s aneurysm was more than he could bear. She was everything to him. He is now the babysitter of his wife, worried only about changing her diaper and restarting the movie when it ends. He escapes by drinking. With his last DUI the threat of prison was alleviated for a time by a sympathetic judge who told him to “get home and take care of your wife.” This has not slowed him down. The thought of death or prison seem to accomodate his pain. I don’t know how I would handle the situation, so please don’t sense any judgment on my part. I have none. But as the situation stands, he is not well. As he would say “it is what it is.” But what “it is” is terribly tragic. Though he lives, he has died. He only needs his body to catch up with his spirit. Mom said that he had a death wish after Angie’s death. He now has two. Not fearing jail or death, my father is lost to sorrow.

My two other sisters have their own stories. They are strong some days and weak others. This has brought us closer together, but death is a stench that creates the background to all our conversations. We simply wait for the next movement of pain.

Angie said that we would all move on. She said that we would all forget about it and be fine. Angie, you were wrong. Your suicide left a legacy of pain that has played itself out in a terrible way. God’s merciful hand is the only way for it to cease, but we may not see such in this life.

Angie, you were wrong. After six years, you were wrong.

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C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminar (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    18 replies to "For those considering suicide . . ."

    • Dana

      Michael, thank you so much for being so open with this part of your life. There have been a couple of suicides in my family and last year my husband’s nephew also ended his life. It is so hard for the families and so hard for people who have not experienced the death of a loved one by his/her own hand to understand.

      You do a particularly fine job of being honest and encouraging people not to give in to guilt and blaming.

      Again, thank you so much.

    • Stuart

      Thank you Michael for sharing this….

    • Lynn

      Michael,

      I’m very sorry your family has had to go through so much.

    • Jeff

      Michael,

      I pray that you will see God’s merciful hand in this life and the next. My heart goes out to you and Angie was wrong but I’ll bet she really believed what she said. I think people that are that depressed often think others will be better without them around. This is distorted thinking and wrong but I’m thinking she really believed that.

      I lift you and your family up in prayer.

      Your transparency will help others walking through depression … it is touching my life as depression is part of my family’s experience too so thank you for giving words to difficult life experiences. I think in some way God is using this to help others. There is help for people suffering from depression … it is not always easy to find the right help though and people do become desperate. I pray that you will find some peace.

      God Bless You.
      Jeff

    • brent

      Unbelievably hard to read, and so terribly raw after all these years. I’ve seen the pain that families go through when this happens, repeatedly, due to my professional circumstances.

      I hope some good comes of this post and the other.

    • Morgan

      Thank you for your honesty. I hope that anyone who has ever considered taking their own life will read this and be changed. May no one think it’s only about them…

      I remember when I was in middle school I told a friend that I wanted to fall asleep and never wake up. I still remember his name. Eric. He told a counselor and she visited with me about it. I told her I was just stressed about school. It was more than that, but when I got home, my mother had been called. She looked me straight in the face and said, “If you ever committed suicide, it would RUIN me. It would kill me. Your dad and I would be devastated. Do you understand?” We were both crying (as I am crying even now) and I nodded, “I understand.” I never again considered it. Ever. I dealt with worse depression since then, but I never entertained the idea of taking my life again. Because I knew it would affect my mother more than it would affect me…because she would be left behind.

    • Lucian

      Thank you for re-posting this: it was something needed to counter-balance the (self-endangering) way some might probably interpret your last post… 😐

    • Steve

      Dear Michael,
      Your willingness to be so open and vulnerable is, I believe, a gift from God. A gift that He uses (through you) to address issues that most of us are simple too afraid to acknowledge or to admit. Keep sharing your heart. I know you are blessing SO many as you do so. Sincerely, Steve

    • Steve

      P.S. to my last post:
      Back in 1996 I went through a divorce that absolutely devastated my life. My pain was so great that the night came when I actually put the loaded barrel of a 38 in my mouth. I SO wanted to die. The ONLY thing that stopped me was the thought of how killing myself would scar my two sons for life. THAT was the ONE thought that stopped me–even when I WANTED to die so badly. I made the ‘conscious decision’ to live with my pain rather than inflict even more pain on my sons (and the others who loved me). Thinking of the lasting-impact that my intending suicide would have on others is the ONLY thing that saved my life.

      Since then I read a quote that has helped me further: “Suicide is a PERMANENT solution to a TEMPORARY problem.” Hope this may help someone struggling with suicidal thoughts even now.

    • stan

      I have never seriously considered suicide but ONLY because of my kids. I would never want them to have to live with that.

      But I have been at the point where I would have gladly died.

      For a loved one to commit suicide has to rank up there with the most painful things in life.

      Lord Jesus Christ , oh how we need you.

    • John A. Taylor

      Michael,

      Your raw honesty conveys suicide’s lasting impact.

      It is an intensely destructive form of death, that slowly corrodes the soul of a family. It is never the merciful act that struggling human minds and Satanic deception portray.

      My Grandmother lived to nearly 100, but her youngest sister committed suicide at 19. Even in her later years, her sister’s death cast a shadow over my Grandmother’s life, and the lives of her other sisters.

      I appreciate the vividness and the rawness of the message you share. This journey of faith we’re on doesn’t excuse us from the pain of living in a fallen world, and our trust in God doesn’t always bring understanding to the emotional pain we’re carrying.

      But the promise of hope lingers, and even in your family’s journey through despair; From your pen, I can feel the hope of Calvary springing forth eternal.

      May it continue to give you strength beyond measure, may the deepness of your suffering be matched by the depth of God’s love, and may the fellowship of believers near you rally around to provide comfort and grace in the midst of sorrow and trial.

    • cn

      Thanks for the post. My father committed suicide, and that part about it being the subtext of conversations (the stench) is so true. Every joyful moment we have is always tinged with the “I wish he could see this, etc.” Reading the post, as I was cleaning out my blog reader, brought me to unexpected tears, as well as the other comments, and as I type these. You never completely move on. (Even when you think you have,)

    • James

      Psalm 119:17
      It is good for me that I was afflicted,
      that I might learn your statutes.

    • Tina

      Wow… I’m so very sorry for the horrible pain you and your family has endured. I thank you for sharing this. I’ve wanted to die my whole life and attempted suicide as a teen. I truly believe only God has protected me from myself. I have six children. They endured years of my debilitating depression and my oldest has endured the worst of it. (He’s 18). God has brought much healing and thankfully I don’t live in despair all the time anymore, yet there are times when it comes back with a horrible vengeance, when it is so dark and I can only think of ending my pain. Then I think of my dear children…. And how they would suffer forever. I praise and thank HIM for sparing my life and I thank you for sharing this story which shall always remain with me. God is good…..praying for you and your family.

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    • Karen

      As read your blogs my mothers voice echoes in my mind. She was a nurse. She had seen the effects of suicide. I have struggled with depression for most of my life. From as back as I can remember my mom ( not being aware of my inner thought life at all). Would often talk about suicide as a selfish way out, that leaves families devastated. She had no tolerance or empathy for because she had seen over and over the pain it left behind. Again, I have struggled with depression most of my life. My first memory of contemplating ending my life I was 12. Honestly, if my mom hadn’t shared her seemingly cold opinion of it I probably wouldn’t be writing this. I have NO idea what seed is planted in the lives of others that causes them to sink to the depths of despair, taking them to places so dark and hopeless. For me it was sexual abuse. Everything else that has happened to me whether a result of my own sin or of the sin of others simply multiplied the shame and the grew. I could type out all of the reasons I am being healed. All of the things I have done and others have done for me which have brought healing but everyone of us has our own special journey. Some of us can’t find the strength to continue and I completely understand. Depression takes over your whole body. There have been times that I spent months in bed. Only getting up to go to the bathroom. Eat and go see my therapist. There were even a few time that our appointments were done over the phone because I could not get up. So is no cookie cutter. But I have to say that I believe that every person who has taken their own life has had a seed of shame planted in them. I have come to learn that the antidote for shame is empathy. Empathy obviously won’t always save lives there are too many other variables. I just feel like as a society we should do our best to learn as much as we can and work hard to develop it in our lives and relationships. Jesus has it, He is our model. We can at least try.

    • dale

      My son died by suicide in the heat of an argument with his wife after dealing with months of depression about their separation. I say all this because there is NEVER just one reason a person ends their life. I am sorry for your loss and know the depth of pain, now, that my son must have been feeling. There was never a more loved and treasured child in the world than my precious son. If love would have saved him…he would be here now. I have been angry at God to whom my son prayed and begged in his prayer journals that God save him from ‘destroying himself”…but that was not to be. I don’t understand. My son dealt with depression or perhaps another form of mental illness that had yet to be diagnosed. We will never know but I have devoted my life the last four years to finding out as much as I can. One thing that I do know is that there is much ignorance on the subject that seems to come more from the church….a condemnation that is unbearable to those of us who are Christians left behind to deal with grief beyond comprehension. Mental Illness is real, folks. It is a sickness like cancer…sometimes it is survivable but it can be fatal. I hate it when the ignorant believe it is the result of a flawed faith…that Satan “won.” Every part of our bodies are vulnerable to illness and we have to die of something. It just so happens that mental illness affects behavior so it is easier for others who don’t understand this to condemn them for “choosing” to do this deed. I have come to the conclusion that it is no more a choice to have mental illness and die of suicide than it is to have cancer and die because of it. I just want the world to wake up from their stupidity. Satan did not win my son…Jesus was waiting for him the very moment he took his last breath because he was a Christian to the very end. My heart goes out to you and your poor parents because I, too, have grieved and wanted to die and be with my Brandon. Jesus has made a way for us to all be…

    • dee

      dear Michael, my dear sister along with her husband ended their earthly lives just 2 months ago. the pain is indescribable.

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