Working Together to Reduce Suicide and Depression

Working Together to Reduce Suicide and Depression

Suicide Prevention Awareness

Commentary

     

The gift of life is filled with possibility. Each of God’s children has limitless potential and adds to the beauty and diversity of His creations. Death is a natural part of life, but untimely deaths can tear a hole in our families and in our hearts. When someone we love takes their own life, the tragedy can feel overwhelming.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and the need to act as families and a religious community has never been greater. In the United States, teen suicide is a serious and growing public health concern. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second-leading cause of death, following accidents, for youth nationwide between the ages 15 and 24.

 

Suicide is a complex issue, and the causes are usually hard to pin down. However, we can still tip the balance toward life. According to the CDC, “cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation” can reduce suicide ideation and attempts. And “isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people,” can increase suicide risk.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have a sacred duty in our congregations and families to reach out to everyone in our communities. We can’t let youth feel isolated or unwanted. Elder Dallin H. Oaks warned of the risks of unkind behavior:

Making a child or youth feel worthless, unloved, or unwanted can inflict serious and long-lasting injury on his or her emotional well-being and development. Young people struggling with any exceptional condition, including same-gender attraction, are particularly vulnerable and need loving understanding—not bullying or ostracism. With the help of the Lord, we can repent and change and be more loving and helpful to children—our own and those around us.

Depression and other mental health issues are common risk factors in almost all suicide attempts. It is critical to seek help for these mental health challenges. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called for both spiritual and professional help when dealing with mental illness:

If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training, professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles. Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.

This month, the Church is publishing a series of resources to help prevent suicide, including:

Three new articles in the Ensign (a magazine for adult Latter-day Saints) and the New Era (a magazine for Latter-day Saint teens)

An update to preventingsuicide.lds.org

Updated training for Church leaders

As we educate ourselves and pray for God’s guidance, we can save lives. If someone you know is feeling depressed, isolated, or alone, reach out with love and friendship.

If you feel like your life is hopeless, please hold on to these hopeful words from Elder Holland:

Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! … “Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’ as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter.

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