September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and this year’s theme is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”
That’s a vital goal. Having lost a family member to suicide some years back, I feel deep compassion for anyone struggling with such aggressive urges—and gratitude for those involved in preventing them from being acted on.
Yet, prevention is just one part of what’s needed. Everyone deserves freedom from the darkened mental states—such as anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, heartache—that can sometimes spill over into the urge for self-destruction. Each of these, in its own way, would seem to turn on its head the sense of our inherent worth—which can be found within all of us, even if it feels as if it has been drowned out. But the drone of the depression and doubt that contradict this sense and lead to the view that self-destruction is a viable option can’t continue to veil that better sense of ourselves when we begin to realize we have a choice of what thoughts we listen to. We can listen for that sense of worth, because it is always actual and powerful, an assuring and strengthening idea of what we are that’s coming to us from a source that, although often unknown or unacknowledged, is constantly communicating to our human consciousness. It’s the voice of divine Love described in the Bible. For instance, if we listen for Love’s voice today, we can hear, in some form appropriate for us, what the prophet Zephaniah heard and conveyed to the people of Jerusalem: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
God’s rejoicing in our worth is timeless and endless. In our darkest hours the radiant love of God is still ever present and valuing us as His offspring. Even when it doesn’t feel that way, this is our real being. In contrast, the material details of our existence, which can so convincingly seem to be our lot in life, are ultimately not a true depiction of either our life or our worth. This is the encouraging and liberating view that emerges through the teachings of Christian Science. But to feel that confidence and freedom we need to better understand the Life that is God, as a friend learned after living with recurring suicidal urges for some years.
The pivotal point in her dawning understanding was when she learned of her relation to God through Christian Science. But she had a glorious glimpse of this along the way when she intuitively discerned the dreamlike nature of her troubled life, and then felt the presence of an unfailing and infallible love supporting her.
A little later she found out that an acquaintance whose ideas and consistent calm had made an impression on her was a Christian Scientist. That impelled her to read and reread a copy of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The spiritual and healing ideas in Mary Baker Eddy’s book had a profound effect. She once told me, “As I read, the room seemed to be filled with pure light. I was held in that ‘secret place of the most High’ that the Bible talks about (Psalms 91:1) and felt as if I was being spoken to directly in my heart of hearts.”
God’s love is with us, empowering us to awaken from any thoughts that would veil the true view of how loved, worthy, and capable we are.
Up till then she still had repetitive impulses to kill herself. But she lost all faith in self-destruction as a means of change as she grew conscious of her purely spiritual identity and ever-active relation to the Divine, which the Bible and Science and Health reveal.
That led to her full freedom from further suicidal desires and brought to light an enduring joy that enables her to touch and uplift the lives of others. From this vantage point she recently shared her story on Facebook, concluding, “There is a way to give up what appears to be our challenged life along with all the regrets and fears and bad choices we associate with it. But it’s not through death. It’s by finding the true sense of Life as God that everyone will discover sooner or later.”
While the human heart, yearning for a solution, can be tempted to believe death is either sweet oblivion or a heavenly paradise, Christian Science makes clear that it is neither a final curtain nor a gateway to heaven. Nor is it a way that divine wisdom would ever lead us into as a means of relieving the burden of others, as some are tempted to believe. The Bible calls death an enemy to be destroyed (see I Corinthians 15:26) and describes eternal life as a gift of God (see Romans 6:23). This gift is described in another of Mrs. Eddy’s writings, Christian Healing: “Life is Spirit; and when we waken from the dream of life in matter, we shall learn this grand truth of being” (p 9).
Through going to God in the way Christian Science shows, many have found a spiritual path up and out of the darkened mental states that seem so real and vivid, as the 120-year archive of healing testimonies from this magazine attests.
There are many approaches people pursue to prevent suicide and alleviate symptoms that can prompt it. But through understanding and feeling God’s love, many have found their thought permanently reoriented away from the darkness that can infuse a matter-based sense of life, to the light that illumines our reality in and of Spirit.
We’re never left alone to work out of darkened thinking. God’s love is with us, empowering us to awaken from any thoughts that would veil the true view of how loved, worthy, and capable we are.
Every moment can be a moment of yielding to this true view of ourselves, and as our thought yields, we can sing, along with the Psalmist, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (Psalms 118:17).
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