From the Student Ministry….

Second and third. This is where suicide ranks as the cause of death for adolescence and children ages 15-19 and 5-14 respectively. It was only beat out for the top spots by accidents and cancer. It should give you pause. It should be sobering. This past month of September has been suicide awareness month. With that in mind I have spent our time in Sunday school talking about being mentally healthy.

If you were present for the first prayer meeting I led in Jim’s absence, I talked about Psalm 23 and how God promises to help us in times of struggle and hardship. God’s promise is to provide comfort through presence. God’s promise is not to take trials away but to never leave us alone during them. There can be prosperity in the face of our enemies. For us, as I explained to the youth, the challenge is to be that presence of God for others. Doing this addresses the number one threat in all forms of mental illness: isolation. God promises that no one is too far to be loved or journeyed with. Our role as compassionate Jesus followers is to provide as much comfort through presence as we can. Our first job is to communicate that they are not alone in their suffering.

To help us better love others we talked about how you can spot when someone is suffering with thoughts of suicide. We outlined the two things you do when you suspect someone is struggling like this: you Listen and then Tell.  Listening means to listen with compassion without judgment. Then, if you feel they are really in danger, you tell an adult you know can help. It may feel like betraying trust, but in the end what is most compassionate is protecting life, not just keeping a secret.

For personal mental health, we discussed knowing your emotions and what they are telling you. It is a great starting point in becoming more responsible and in control of your mental wellbeing. Taking turns, we talked about how we can react positively and negatively within each emotion. Our youth have very high emotional IQs. I was very encouraged by their insights and habits they have around how they choose to respond to their own emotions.

I hope everyone is taking time to care for their own mental health in this crazy time. I offer you the same warning I offer my youth: You won’t have anything to give someone else if you haven’t been caring for yourself.

If you know anyone struggling, please direct them to someone who can help. It is never weak to ask for help. We all need help and support sometimes. 

800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Hotline