In my years of ministry experience, I have dealt with either suicidal threats, suicidal attempts, or suicidal death at least once each year over the past 25 years. This year (2017) it was twice and both were young teenagers. One was a boy and one was a girl. One resulted in a preventative visit to the ER and the other resulted in a funeral. I have preached funerals of those who have committed suicide and have walked families through the steps necessary to get help. One of the hardest parts of ministry is often convincing parent(s) or legal guardian(s) that help is needed. Families often respond, “She’s done this before,” “He’s just wanting attention,” or “All teenagers make suicidal threats.” First, not all teenagers threaten suicide. Some research indicates that only 16% of teenagers threaten suicide, and half of them follow through on their threat. I am not okay with a 50/50 chance they may or may not follow through on a threat. That is why we can never dismiss any threat of suicide as insignificant. We cannot fall into the trap of believing this is “normal teenage behavior,” because it’s not! Here are some questions, thoughts, and helps…
What if I am having suicidal thoughts? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can even chat with someone online at http://chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx
What if I know of someone who has threatened suicide? In some cases and in some states you may be legally obligated to inform authorities of the threat. For example, as a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, I have agreed to adhere to a “Code of Ethics” that would prompt me to take protective action when threats of suicide are known. In ALL CASES you and I both have moral obligation to inform authorities of the threat. Here’s what to do and what to expect…
What NOT to do if you know someone has threatened suicide…
Here are some additional thoughts and resources about suicide...
Do the right thing.
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."