I wish I could write a how-to book on “How To Go About Your Day When You Kind Of Want to Die Sometimes,” but I can’t. There is no quick fix, no DIY recipe, no guide I have found quite yet. I have watched all the TikTok videos, read all the self help books, done all the Googling; it’s not out there.
However, coming from someone who has spent the last decade struggling with self harm and suicidal thoughts, I have a few thoughts that I pray are helpful for you. Here’s what I want you to know and remember: God has not forgotten you. He loves you and he even likes you. In fact, he loves you and cares for you. He is hurting with you and standing beside you and has not and will not give up on you. Your life is worth living. You are worth fighting for. It may feel like an all-out war right now inside that pretty brain of yours, but we will get through this together. Here are some tangible steps, bits of hope, and prayers for you.
This one might be painful, but stick with me. If you are experiencing thoughts of self harm or suicide, I pray this devotional gives you hope to cling to. On top of that, if you have thoughts or plans of hurting yourself or others, please seek medical attention and help from loved ones. Hear me on this: it’s okay to be scared. This is the hardest part. But you can do hard things! You are worthy of help and healing. Bookmark this page and call someone you trust: an adult in your household, a friend who will pick you up, a mentor who loves the heck out of you, 911 if it is an emergency. There are so many people who care for you and places that can help you get through this. I know you don’t know me, but trust me on this: it won’t always be like this. Good is coming and you are worthy of seeing it.
When your brain feels like a warzone, it can be really hard to remember to breathe. This can make reading and praying really hard. So, before we jump into Scripture, I’d love to invite you to get comfy wherever you are, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. As you do this, your mind might drift and race. That’s okay! Try to pull yourself back to the moment with these grounding words: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Big deep breath. Repeat again until your brain feels a little safer and a little quieter. Okay. Let’s get to it.
What do you do when you are suicidal? Declare war on the lies.
My biggest hot take of the century is this: God loves broken people. Being perfect is not a prerequisite for following Jesus. In fact, he requires the opposite: acknowledgment that you are not enough, that you need a Savior to rescue you from your sin. It is really hard to believe this when you’re in a depression tail spin. It goes against everything we know as humans. It is so much easier to make a list of all the reasons you’re a failure, all of the ways you’ve screwed up. You are not alone in that! I am in the same boat. This is what has been most helpful for me in those moments:
First of all, this is a friendly reminder that your brain is lying to you. Our brains do this thing where we seek evidence to support our version of truth. Example: I often have the belief that I am a failure. This may not be a rational thought, but my brain will take this morsel of a belief and find all the evidence to make it look like truth. So in my head I make a list of every thing I have ever done wrong: I made a comment two days ago that really upset my boyfriend, I must be a bad girlfriend. I haven’t called my mom in a few days and I know that is important to her, I must be a bad daughter. I forgot to take my kitten’s litter box out and now my apartment smells like the depths of hell: I must be a bad roommate. This list becomes never-ending and all the evidence is stacked in the favor of my original belief: I am bad.
What has been really game changing in my relationship with myself and Jesus has been trying to stop that tailspin by replacing lies with truth. If I’m being perfectly honest, though, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about myself on hard days. But God does. It makes no sense, but it’s true. God is truly obsessed with me and utterly obsessed with you. He has only good things to say about you. So instead of the belief that is burrowing in my brain, I try to replace it with truth: I am good. This may seem like total nonsense at first, but that’s when I look for truth in the most beautiful and TRUE book of all time: The Bible. To get my brain to believe this truth, I search far and wide (which takes effort but is surprisingly easy because God has a lot of good things to say about the people he loves). This might mean flipping through the old and new testament for stories of God caring for his people. I have the Bible app and Blue Letter Bible which are super helpful resources that can search the entire Bible for a word/phrase you’re looking for. In this case, I’m going to search for “good” and write what I think might apply.
God says I am good and here is why:
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
I know that’s a lot to write, but my brain has a lot of lies to tackle and the more evidence against the lie the better. Or you can summarize it, too. Sometimes I like to restate this in simpler terms: God made all the things in this world that I love. Deep blue seas. A million lights in the sky. The birds in the trees and the fish in the ocean and he called it GOOD. Then he created men and women and he called us VERY GOOD. What was true then is true now, therefore God must think I, as a human simply existing, am very good.
It can be big chunks of Scripture or just a verse or two: whatever blatantly contradicts the lie you’re tempted to believe. Once I write down as much evidence to support the truth I want to believe, I reread it in my head and say it out loud and ask God to help me believe that what he says is true.
This can be really hard if you’ve become accustomed to living with mean voices in your head. I’m with you on that. However, practicing saying no to the lies, and replacing them with God's truth will help you dwell on God's voice instead of the voice of the enemy.
What do you do when you are suicidal? Know that God is with you.
I spent the better part of the last ten years believing that wanting to die was just going to be part of my life. I had glimpses of hope and joy but was deeply convinced and comfortable with the idea that redemption for me was not going to happen on this side of eternity. I thought sadness was my baseline and a day when I woke up and didn’t immediately want to fall back asleep was as good as it was going to get for me. But BOY, was I wrong.
If you’re in a season (or maybe an unending season) of depression and are convinced the same is true for you, I have beautiful news that is so hard to believe: joy is possible, even here. Even for you. This pain will not last forever. Fortunately or unfortunately, you and I both know the answer I’m about to give you, the balm to the wounds: our Jesus and time with him. I know, I know. I can feel you rolling your eyes. I used to think the same thing. I spent time with Jesus. I did the devotionals. I set aside time with him daily to pray. I read the Bible and led Young Life and did all the right things and I felt nothing. Or maybe bits and pieces felt like hope, but it was fleeting. It wasn’t until last year that I realized I might have sold out Jesus so short.
Time with Jesus—true time with Jesus—radically changed my life forever. And this time I surrendered my expectations of what I thought God wanted of me. I didn’t tell God what I thought he wanted to hear. I screamed and cried and cussed a lot and Jesus met me with nothing but love and compassion. His presence was enough. I think the writer in Lamentations (likely Jeremiah) felt this grief turned to hope as well when he writes chapter 3.
Lamentations 3:19-24 NIV
“I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Here, the writer is not trying to cover up his pain or sorrow; he acknowledges it. He names his grief, sits with it, but does not wallow. Rather, he takes his grief and brings it to the Lord, who in turn gives him hope. He remembers, even in the midst of his suffering, that God is with him, for him, and brings him new mercies. Those things, brought to him solely by God’s great love for him, brings him strength.
This process is really hard when you are in the midst of depression. The fog of grief seems impossible to penetrate and your thoughts feel really hard to control. With that in one hand, it can be hard to loosen your grip and give up control to God. It feels counterintuitive and scary to acknowledge your pain without being swallowed whole by it. But hear me on this, friends: our God is so good at holding us close and giving us hope. He is not ignoring your cries for help, whether they are silent or vocal. He knows first hand how painful suffering is. They called him the Man of Sorrows for a reason (Isaiah 53:3). He is not asking you to replace your thoughts of sadness with joy by your own strength; he is simply asking you to turn your eyes to him. He alone is able to reach through the fog and lift you out of the pit (Psalm 40:2). I promise you with all of my heart that our God wants to be with you in your sorrow, but more than that, he also wants to give you peace and joy. He wants to take that shame you’re feeling and give you hope. He wants to turn your darkness into light.
You were not made to suffer, you were made to live in communion with the God who heals all your hurt. Before Jesus even walked the earth, the author of the Old Testament book called Isaiah spoke this of the God who died for you: “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
This was true then of our God then and lived out when he became flesh in the man of Jesus. All throughout the New Testament, we see God be with people in pain. He does not shy away from the hurting, the lost and the lonely. He instead eats with sinners (Mark 2:13), heals what ails them (Matthew 9:20-22), casts out the thoughts that threaten harm (Mark 5:1-20), and raises the dead back to life (Mark 5:21-43).
I know it’s easy to believe that you should hide your pain from others, and maybe even hide your pain from Jesus. But again, hear me on this: your pain is not your sin. You are allowed to feel pain; Jesus told us that we would experience suffering on this side of eternity. But your pain does NOT divide you from Jesus; it does not separate you or disqualify you from his love and his presence. In Romans 8, Paul says this:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This brings me a lot of hope for a whole lot of reasons but I’ll leave it at this: there is nothing that you did or has been done to you that separates you from the love of Christ. Your depression feels so big. Anxiety feels SO heavy. Wanting to die and struggling to live is unimaginably painful. Big and heavy and painful things feel a lot like division from Jesus, but Paul tells us this: we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37). God alone has given us the power to defeat all the things that threaten to destroy us because of Jesus on the cross. Jesus defeated death! He overcame the grave. Death has no sting here. This can be true for you, too.
When I was cutting, I wish I would have known God wanted more for me.
It took me over a decade to stop self harming. It was my only coping skill that gave me the control back: the hurt was big inside of me and cutting gave me a place to put that hurt. It somehow felt more manageable that way. I believed that whatever happened to trigger that hurt, falling short in a friendship, disappointing someone I loved, failing the expectations I had set for myself, I deserved to feel all the wrath and the pain that followed. Even when I started to believe in Jesus and his love for me, I understood the weight of my sin and almost wanted to feel the deep consequences of my actions. I knew how bad it hurt Jesus when I sinned and somehow I wanted to take on the weight of that hurt. However, friends, this price has already been paid in full. I am not to take on the burden of my sins: I physically and mentally cannot handle that. Sin leads to death (Romans 6:23), but when Jesus bore the cross, he took the weight of our sins and died with it, allowing us to be free from our sins (1 John 4:10). You alone do not have to bear the burden of your sin. You may think you deserve the pain but you do not. You, my dear friend, are washed clean of your sin and MAN does God love you. You do not have to do anything to earn his love or wash yourself free of your sin. You do not need to clean yourself up.
By believing that Jesus died on the cross for you because he loves you, you are free from the weight of your pain and your sin. Friends, give him the weight. Give him the burden. Give him the wild thoughts and the intense hurt and all the things that weigh you down. You were not made to carry it alone. You weren’t made to carry it all. 1 Peter 5:7 says to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” He cares for you. He knows every hair on your head, he intricately designed you, he adores you. He wants to help you in your hurting and your suffering. Giving up the control over my pain and sin was incredibly hard but ultimately so freeing. It felt like weight lifting off my chest—like I was able to breathe again. God has wanted that for me for so long and he wants the same for you.
With all of this being said, know that I want to acknowledge your pain and your hurt and your suffering. You are allowed to go through hard things. But please know that you don’t have to do it alone. Jesus cares for you so deeply. He has not forgotten you. He wants to sustain you. To give you a hand and lift you out of the pit. The New Testament is full of Jesus meeting those he loves in all their broken places. He wants to sit with you, hold your hand, even if there is dirt under your nails and tears streaming down your face, and help you breathe again. I am praying so hard that you let him.
You are so worth loving.
You may think you’re too far gone or have screwed up too big for this to be true of you, but God has a track record of using broken people for big and beautiful things. Both King David and the Apostle Paul, who are two writers of the Bible and beloved sons of God, committed murder and were still used of God. The disciples were young and dumb and doubted God even when he was Jesus in the flesh, but God still used them to spread the gospel throughout the world. The Israelites doubted for YEARS and God still showed up and redeemed them. You, my friend, are so worth redeeming and loving. You are capable of beautiful things. You are a beautiful, beautiful thing.
While some of you may resonate with these stories and experiences, we understand that no two stories are the same. Our enemy is cunning and knows exactly which lies to whisper in our ear to tempt us to believe our lives are not worth living or that we’re not worthy of love or joy. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and we encourage you to wield it as a sword against the lies of the enemy—but don’t do it alone. There are times when we are so weary from battling the lies of the enemy that we don’t have the strength to stand. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” Find friends and community who will speak God’s truth to you and over you. You are not alone in this fight.
In closing, Please take advantage of some of the resources listed below. In his infinite wisdom, God has chosen to work through ordinary people to accomplish his eternal purposes for our good and his glory. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I mentioned Ecclesiastes 4:9 earlier; the very next verse says, “Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Too often, we wait until we have fallen and have no one to lift us up before we seek help. God can work through organizations and resources like these to provide you with the tools and friends you need to ensure you have help when you need it. And if we can pray with you and for you, we would love to do so. You can submit your prayer request here.
Image Credit: Sarah Brossart