National Suicide Prevention Month

With shorter days and longer nights during this time of year, many suffer with Seasonal Adjustment Disorder. I know I find it easier to keep on the sunny side of life when there is indeed sunshine outside my window.

When you toss in the fact life turned topsy-turvy once COVID-19 took center stage, it is no wonder there is more stress, anxiety, worry, and concern in folks’ lives these days. Not to mention all the other news headline grabbing events.

I wonder if September was chosen as National Suicide Prevention Month because more people experienced S.A.D. in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year.

Since 1974, the United States has dedicated the month of September as National Suicide Prevention Month to bring awareness to this mental health issue. Doing so not only shows those who suffer with this disease it’s okay to admit you’re not okay, but that there is nothing weak in asking for help.

Setting aside a month also provides an opportunity for each of us to realize how important it is to talk about the subject.

Once again, as I prepared posts for September I debated whether to revisit the subject of suicide. And as I did last year, I pretty much decided not to. I first wrote about suicide in a post in 2014, and again in 2017.

The fact I keep feeling nudged to post about the subject of suicide is an indicator to me this subject needs to be brought to people’s attention and discussed. And if by reading this, one person is helped, it is definitely worth it. Especially in these days of so many unknowns when depression rates are at a higher level. This is a longer post than my usual, but I hope you will take the time to read it.

The following is a re-post of last year’s post from September 17, 2019.

Sadly, after minister Jarrid Wilson, the founder of Anthem of Hope committed suicide September 10, 2019 on National Suicide Prevention Day, I decided to write this post. Anthem of Hope’s website states they are an organization devoted to help equip the church with the resources needed to help better assist those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide, whose core values are: God Loves You, Life Matters, and You Have a Purpose.

I’ve had first-hand experience with friends who committed suicide and friends who tried, but fortunately, did not succeed. I am by no means an expert. So I’ll leave that to the experts.

My hope in writing this post is to raise awareness of this staggering problem which affects so many around each of us.

The following statistics are for 2019.

SAVE Suicide Awareness Violence Education reports:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)
  • Every day, approximately 123 Americans die by suicide. (CDC)
  • There is one death by suicide in the US every 12 minutes. (CDC)
  • Suicide takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans every year. (CDC)
  • Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)
  • Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)
  • An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 25 suicide attempts. (CDC)
  • There is one suicide for every estimated 4 suicide attempts in the elderly. (CDC)

Anthem of Hope’s blog reports:

  • Over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
  • On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, combined.
  • Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.
  • Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7th-12th.

Here are some statistics from several LifeWay Research studies that may help better understand the issue of mental health among people in our churches. (From Anthem of Hope’s blog.)

Christian Mental Health Statistics:

  • 23 percent of pastors acknowledge they have personally struggled with a mental illness.
  • 49 percent of pastors say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness.
  • 27 percent of churches have a plan to assist families affected by mental illness.
  • 65 percent of churchgoing family members of those with mental illness want their church to talk openly about mental illness.
  • 59 percent of those actually suffering from mental illness say the same.
  • 76 percent of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community.
  • 32 percent of churchgoers say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.
  • 80 percent of pastors say their church is equipped to assist someone who is threatening to take his or her own life.
  • 4 percent of churchgoers who lost a loved one to suicide say church leaders were aware of their loved one’s struggles.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Or Anthem of Hope.

Awareness is the beginning. We can all be a part of throwing out a lifeline and help prevent suicide.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalms 40:2 (NLT)

You can find my September Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The older I get the less I sweat the small stuff. You know what I mean? I get less irritated by things that used to really annoy me. I’m not saying small stuff doesn’t still get to me, especially when I’m tired or fatigued, just that it doesn’t bother me as often, and not to the same degree it used to.

I doubt anyone who knows my Kirby family would say we were a patient lot. (Just ask our spouses. 🙂 ) Nope. Quite the contrary. Our “Irish temper” is one excuse that has been given for our impatience. But that’s just an excuse, not a fact. The fact is we have a bent toward impatience, Irish or not.

Here are some of the things I found associated with an Irish temper. After you read them, I believe you will be able to see some of these same traits in people who aren’t necessarily “Irish”.

 

  • You can hold a grudge
  •  You wish bad luck on people
  •  You take stubborn to a new level
  •  Short fuse
  •  Passion steers the wheel
  •  You’re a fighter

As a follower of Christ, a Christian, we are to have a mind, a temper, like Christ. We are to daily strive to become more and more like our Savior. He is our role model, after all. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, his Holy Spirit comes to dwell – to live – in us. The Holy Spirit can help us control our Irish temper, or any other kind of temper. He can help us let go of grudges. He can help us desire good for others, not harm.

 

With the Holy Spirit’s help we can tame our short fuse and become more patient. He can help us turn our passion to the things of God, and toward advancing God’s Kingdom here on earth. The Holy Spirit can take our fighting spirit and turn it for good to love mercy, seek justice, and right the wrongs we see.

Would you say you have an Irish Temper, or are you under the Holy Spirit’s control developing the Fruit of the Spirit in you?

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God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. Galatians 5:22-23 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Those words from the book of Isaiah are often spoken to explain why our plans are delayed, or why what we thought would happen doesn’t. Perhaps you’ve said them yourself? I know I have.

We make plans expecting them to come out the way we intend; only they don’t.

That dream job doesn’t materialize. The great boss and co-workers don’t show up. Or we lose our job and struggle to start all over again.

We expect the child we carry to be perfect, but she is born with a disability instead. Or maybe he rebels, shuts us out of his life, or becomes involved in destructive behaviors that lead to an early death. Our own bodies become frail and turn against us and we can no longer function as we once did.

Natural disasters take away our homes or our livelihood. Our investments don’t pan out. Those dreams we’ve held onto for so long evaporate.

The people closest to us abandon us at our point of deepest need, and we wonder what happened to all our grand plans.

It doesn’t surprise God when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would because God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts.

Oftentimes when we look back on our life, we find God’s ways and thoughts were much better than ours.

I know in my life I’ve planned, wished and hoped for things that didn’t come to pass, and looking back, I can honestly say, “Thank you, Jesus” they didn’t.

Of course, while going through those times, I didn’t feel that way. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, is it not?

Are there any incidences in your life where you wished for one thing and were grateful it didn’t happen?

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Look for the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the sinful turn from his way, and the one who does not know God turn from his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have loving-pity on him. Let him turn to our God, for He will for sure forgive all his sins. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:6-9 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Jesus Calls His Own By Name

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

If you have ever cared for children, or been cared for as a child, one thing I believe would be safe to say is you recognize their voice. Mothers know when their child cries out among a throng of others on a playground. Children know when the voice calling them belongs to their parent.

During the years I taught students in elementary school I knew for a fact which one of my them called out to me, and they knew for a fact when I called out to them.

courtesy pixabay

Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. He knows us, his sheep, so intimately he hears our faintest cry and immediately puts a name and face to that cry.

As his sheep we in turn can discern his voice and distinguish it from the noise of the world.

I think that’s pretty amazing.

courtesy pixabay

To think the King of kings and Lord of lords can pick out our voice among the multitude of voices and put a name — our name — to it is pretty special. Wouldn’t you say?

God is the one who created us. He is the one who knows us intimately and has a plan for us.

Our value and worth lies in him, the One who knows our name, not in anything we could ever accomplish on our own. His is the voice we need to listen for and long to hear.

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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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It’s Hard to be Honest Sometimes

Okay, deviating from my usual, here, but feel compelled to do so.

Ever heard it said, “The church is full of hypocrites.”? I have. Many a time. And you know what, many a time I’ve seen it to be true.

But I’ve also seen it to be false more times than not.

Here are some instances I’ve personally experienced in church that caused me to shake my head and wonder.

  • The father of one of my best friends was a physically abusive alcoholic.
  • The father of another friend died of AIDS some years after his divorce.
  • The husband of a friend sexually abused their toddler.
  • One friend spent time in prison for drug abuse.
  • One friend terminated her teenage pregnancy.
  • One acquaintance often showed up with unexplained bruises and broken bones…that wall she kept running into was her husband
  • One friend had the Bible he received at his baptism stolen from the church pew…once he left his parents’ home, he vowed never to step inside a church again.
  • One friend’s parents divorced after it was discovered her minister-father was addicted to pornography.

There’s more, but that’s more than enough.

Some of the people in the above examples were honest with themselves, God, and those around them. They turned their brokenness into healing through the power of Christ’s love. They made it their mission to educate and serve others from what they experienced and learned of God’s grace.

As I’ve said before, and I’ll say along with the Apostle Paul…I am chief among sinners, saved by the wonderful love, mercy, and grace of God through the forgiveness of my sins, by the power of Jesus’ shed blood on the cross of Calvary.

Yes, there is hypocrisy in the church. Always has been. Always will be. Just look at the Pharisees in the time of Christ to see a perfect example. But that shouldn’t keep us from being involved with a local body of believers who are just as flawed as we are. It should compel us to use our brokenness to bring Light to a world of darkness.

The difference, I believe, is in letting God take our brokenness and using it to help heal others. That takes honesty, and that, my friend, is a very difficult thing to do.

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How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You are like tombs that are painted white. Outside, those tombs look fine, but inside, they are full of the bones of dead people and all kinds of unclean things. It is the same with you. People look at you and think you are good, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and evil. Matthew 23:27-28 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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