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‘He didn’t jump’

From the teen series: Q&A - April 26, 2016

TeenConnect: Q&A

Q: How can I pray about the issue of suicide in my school?

A: Thank you for praying about suicide in your school. Just the other day, I saw a video featuring a mom whose teenage son had killed himself after being severely bullied. She said she wished that her son’s friends, who noticed him having a difficult time, would have said or done something to let her child know he was cared for. Your prayers are a way of caring for those who may be struggling with these same dark thoughts. And, as I learned last fall, prayer does have a tangible, healing impact. 

I was driving along the highway to church one Wednesday night when I saw someone standing on the bridge above me. It looked as if he was standing on the other side of the railing—as if maybe he was about to jump. It was hard to see what was really going on, and there was no way for me to stop. But my thought went instantly to prayer. I had already been keeping my thoughts open to God during my drive, listening for God’s assurance that I was loved and cared for, as I was feeling down. 

In that moment under the bridge, a line from a dearly loved hymn came immediately to mind: “Everlasting arms of Love / Are beneath, around, above” (John R. Macduff, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 53). My favorite synonym for God is Love, and in a split second, I got a completely new view of what it means to say that God is Love. To me, those “everlasting arms of Love” meant that Love is the only active presence, completely surrounding and tenderly caring for me and everyone, everywhere and always. I felt in a profound way that Love is in total control, every moment. No one can actually opt out of being loved by God. Love, being All, truly is all there is!

No one can actually opt out of being loved by God.

When I got to church, I was surprised to discover that the first hymn was that very same one. And the readings addressed safety from a metaphysical standpoint, in support of families fleeing Middle Eastern countries for parts of Europe. The readings helped me see that as healers, we are each responsible for responding to cries for help, in any form. And also that God gives us the ability to help, the ability to see where our help is needed, and the ability to know that God is governing the situation. I heard many passages that night from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, which helped me expand on my initial prayers in the car.

Later that same evening, I asked God in prayer what to think about the situation. I wondered if I really had seen a man on the bridge at all, and if I had, was he OK? I’ve had plenty of experiences praying this way, and I always know when the answer is “for real”—that I’m really hearing God—when I feel total peace. In this instance, the answer I got in prayer from God was: “He didn’t jump, Ellen.” I felt such peace and conviction when I heard this, so I knew it came from God and I wasn’t making it up. 

Several days later, I was still curious about whether I did in fact see a man on that bridge, so I did an Internet search on it. I found a news article that confirmed what I’d seen. Right around the time I’d passed under that bridge on Wednesday night, a man had, indeed, been planning to jump. However, an off-duty police officer talked with him for a while, and the man changed his mind, moved away from the edge of the bridge, and climbed back over the railing to safety. The article specifically noted that the officer hugged this man for a while. It was such a tangible reminder of how we’re never outside of Love’s embrace, and this was a message I so desperately needed to hear for myself that week, too. 

Keep praying about the issue of suicide at your school and keep asking God how you can help. Love will give you answers. And your teachers, friends, classmates, and others in your community will no doubt feel the comforting, life-saving effects of your prayers.

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