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Pensées on Suicide

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There’s just something about suicide that just hits me to my core. My heart just goes out to people who carry what must be such unbearable pain that they feel that the only way to make it go away is to choose death over life. I can’t even begin to think how isolating and how lonely that must feel. I know that some people think that it is the only way to escape the immense hurt they are going through. Some choose death not because they don’t think that life is not worth living… they choose death because life is simply too much for them to bear. Suicide notes usually tell the people they leave behind that they have nothing but utmost love for them and tell them not to berate themselves for what happened. It wasn’t their fault.

Once you factor in mental illness in the picture, it becomes an even murkier picture. Schizophrenics are prone to hear voices that tell them to commit acts of aggression against others, or even against themselves. The line between what is real and what is not real becomes blurred. The constant struggle can be burdensome. In that one quick moment when you lose that fight between reality and illusions, the outcome can be tragic and irreversible. As someone once said, “suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem.” However, I just find pithy statements like that to be so cliché that it verges on useless. I find that statements like that tend to make something painfully real into something abstract. Suicide is tragic. Suicide is heart wrenching. Suicide is soul crushing.

When I heard what happened to my friend, I was shocked. I was speechless. Immediately, you think of your last interaction and wondered if there was something you could have said or something you could have done to be an encouragement or bring a smile to their face. When faced with the reality and cruelty of death, we are forced to remember the fragility of life. We are forced to think of our priorities in life and what matters most to us.

As a Christian, the reality of death also confronts us with the reality of the afterlife. According to the Christian worldview, heaven and hell are the two places where one might end up when we die. Suicide, in particular, makes us wonder where the soul might go. I think it is only important to remind people that in the end, only God knows the eternal fate of our souls. It is good to be reminded that it is not up to us to determine where others shall go. Whatever your thoughts may be on the matter, it is probably better for you to keep it to yourself. Since you’re not God, your opinion/speculation doesn’t matter at all.

To those left behind, suicide is extremely hard to bear. It’s hard not to blame ourselves for what we could have done to prevent it. What if I said/did something that drove them to do it? Why couldn’t they confide in me? Why did they think that this was the only way to fix the problem? I can’t even fathom the emotions that a grieving loved one feels. There are no words to adequately explain the depth of hurt and pain etched in their faces and engraved in their hearts.

To those who feel that suicide is the only option, I want you to know that it isn’t. There is help available to you and for you. Please talk to a family member, a trusted friend, or if needed, seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to go through the loneliness alone. This world is a better place because you’re in it. Please don’t quit on us. You are loved more than you can ever know by the One who made you. God doesn’t make mistakes and you are not a mistake. You are the apple of His eye.

For the rest of us, let’s not be stingy with our praise and encouragement of others. Let’s cherish each other’s presence. We can never say “I love you” too many times. Let’s make sure that the one time we do say “I love you” is not the one time that the person can’t hear it anymore.

To my friend, say hi to the angels for me. May you rest in peace in the bosom of the God who loves you.

 

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The importance of words

We have all heard it. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This childhood rhyme, so often spoken in playgrounds and in public, tell us that physical things that can physically bruise us have the power to hurt us, but the ethereal, abstract, intangible nature of words won’t. Sadly, this is the farthest thing from the truth. If anything, the physical bruises will disappear with time and yet the emotional bruises we bear can sometimes last a lifetime. Words are as real as the chair you sit on and the laptop that you’re using. Its effects are just as real as a punch in the face. Words can hurt, scar, and kill. Words are powerful.

I grew up in an Asian family. In Asian families, family members and relatives tend to be rather free with the words they use. It’s not uncommon to see someone after a long time and be greeted with “oh, look at you. You got fat.” That is the one thing that I dislike about my culture: the lack of sensitivity they show towards others. Every culture has its flaws and this is probably the one that riles me up the most. There are a lot of things that I do like about my culture, but this is the one I can definitely live without.
When people share insensitive comments, most of it is done not out of malice, but out of ignorance. I guess they believe that because they have a thought in their head, they should share it. However, some thoughts should probably stay locked up in your brain and never escape your lips. Because once the words are out, there is a consequence. There is an effect. And sometimes that effect can be very negative.

I grew up thinking that I was ugly and unworthy of love because I was ugly. It wasn’t that I felt I was ugly… I WAS ugly. And even now, with a lot of friends trying to tell me that I’m not, I still revert to that mode of thinking. It’s hard to let it go. It’s hard not to let it affect you.

We allow ourselves to listen and believe the words that other people have spoken over us. But, we also have the ability to stop allowing others’ words to define who we are! You can define who you are by the words you speak over yourself. This is something that can be very difficult to achieve on a daily basis. And perhaps, this will be our everlasting struggle in life. But, this is a struggle that we must endure. In this battle, we must persevere. Because if we don’t, we will lose ourselves. And that is a horrible thing to lose.

In the same way that words have the ability to destroy a life, it can also build it. I know that I am who I am today because there have been people who spoke words of encouragement over my life. They told me that I mattered. They told me that I was loved. They told me that I was worth it. They told me about the loving grace of God who wanted to be with me. When faced with those types of words, it’s easy to feel good about yourself.

As you go through your day chatting with different people, be mindful of the words you speak over their life. May it be words that seek to lift them up instead of bringing them down. Let’s remind others that words can and will hurt us so let’s use it responsibly and wisely.

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