026: Helping People With Thoughts of Suicide


What You'll Discover in this Episode:

Those who belong to Christ are not immune from thoughts of suicide and there is a likelihood that someone very close to you has struggled with these thoughts. The Bible is sufficient for every problem or situation we face and it should be used to help those who struggle with thoughts of suicide. It is not enough to offer kind words and express that you will be praying for them. God has equipped you with knowledge of His word and the Holy Spirit to help them overcome the heavy weight that thoughts of suicide can bring. During this episode, Pastor Jeff will give you some practical biblical concepts to help you counsel those that are suffering with thoughts of suicide. Armed with these biblical concepts and the Holy Spirit you have all the tools necessary to help prevent the loss of a loved one. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and anything we do to help others is as if we are doing to Him. It is not an easy task but God will give you the courage to help others see His glory and turn away from despair. 


Pastor Jeff uses the 4 L’s. These four L’s are  love, listen, launch, and lean. These simple L's will go a long way in helping people who struggle with thoughts of suicide. Check out episode 26 to understand practical biblical actions to help those who struggle with thoughts of suicide.


  • Guidelines for Talking to Those with Thoughts about Suicide:

  • Love the person. God has shown us is unending love and mercy, we are equipped to show that same love to those we counsel. We are capable of love because He first loved us and He commands us to share that love. 
  • Listen to the person. Your posture, your eyes, and your demeanor show that you are intently listening to their story. See the person through the eyes of Jesus and listen to what they have to say.   
  • Launch into an action plan. This is the most difficult aspect, we are armed with the knowledge and understanding but we need to think out a plan to help the individual with practical applications. Create a calendar of the next steps and how they should be carried out.  
  • Lean into an an action plan. Follow up with individual, seek to disciple them. Pray with them and for them always making it priority to check in on them. 
  • Check out this FREE guide for Biblical Counselors!  -----> "A Biblical Counselors Quick Reference to Suicide Prevention" <------  by Dr. Howard A. Eyrich.  This useful tool will help you gain more understanding to help those who are in need. 

Resources:

  • (Romans 15:14 NKJV) Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 
  • (James 3:9 NKJV) With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.
  • (1Corinthians 6:19 NKJV) Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
  • (Job 1:21 NKJV) And he said:
    “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    And naked shall I return there.
    The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
    Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
  • (Galatians 5:21 NKJV) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

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  • Tom Zimbelman says:

    This was a very weighty podcast, suicide is a heavy issue. Jeff is right when he observes that people often flee from someone who indicates he or she is struggling with suicidal thoughts. It’s scary and we often don’t have a clue on how to deal with, other than to say, “That person better get some help.”

    The four “L’s” described are helpful (and convicting) for me: Love, Listen, Launch, Lean. The Launch and Lean are probably the most difficult, but essential. The person struggling with suicidal thoughts needs outside help to get them in the Word strategically to change their thought patterns. That does take a specific plan, and of course a tremendous amount of effort on the part of someone to come alongside and help.
    A friend of mine, years ago when he was a young man and new to the faith, began reading several books on how to become a strong Christian man. He went through a severe depression after that and it was only when someone came alongside him and helped him change by replacing his thoughts with biblical instruction, memorizing verses. Comparing his thoughts with the Bible was the way he able to pull out of the depression. Today, he is an on fire pastor teaching others to do the same. What did it take? The Word of God, and someone who was committed to discipling him to help him through this process. It took time, effort, and Scripture.

    • Autumn C Duncan says:

      I agree with you that many people will flee once they feel that they have helped someone through the situation at that moment. I truly believe it is because they’re not sure of what to do next or don’t understand how that is an essential component of helping someone. I am so happy to hear that your friend made it through that time of their life and has turned it around to help others. Through every situation we do need the word of God and a friend to help us through it but in the case of suicide it is life-or-death. I only wish others would have someone along side them to help them through it.

    • Melissa Hermosillo says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Tom! I agree with you. This has been such a taboo in church and because of no one really gets educated in this topic, we never talk about it. People keep feeling and keep going through hard challenges. But because we are taught to not talk about it, we are scared and even feel ashamed when it is us. We don’t talk about our depression or anxiety. I pray we can break that cycle and start being open with people with our example so they can open up as well and we can all go to God for answers, counsel and mental peace.

    • Kristie Gallagher says:

      Such an amazing story that you shared. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is invest time into a persons when they are depressed but it is one of the most important things that we can do. Share our time, hearts and God’s word.

  • Kristie Gallagher says:

    With the suicide recently of the Youth Pastor from Harvest this is such a relevant and important message to listen to at this time. Pastor Jeff lays out practical biblical counseling helps when ministering to someone that is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. The first step is to love the person. Pray that the Lord would would give us wisdom to help. God has called us and equipped us through the Spirit to minister to those in need. Remind the person struggling that they are made in the image of God. He loves them and has a plan and purpose for their life. We need to listen to them, their hurts, their dreams and listen for warning signs. Next, help them launch a plan. Give them purpose through reading the Bible, doing homework, attending church and meeting with Christian friends. Then be willing to lean into the hard work to follow up with them. Set up time to disciple them, make appointments with them to go over their homework, ask what the Lord is speaking to them. Help them get involve in serving. This is such a key point. Help them get their eyes off of themselves and onto others. Serving others brings joy and purpose. Continue to pray for them and to pray for wisdom. God is faithful

    • Tom Zimbelman says:

      Hi Kristie-
      Great summary. Listening is so important. Often we want to jump in with advice without really hearing the heart of an individual or the struggle that a person is dealing with from deep within, and praying while we listen. I need to do better with that, and then follow up with the relevant Scripture.

    • Autumn C Duncan says:

      I completely agree with you! The Harvest Pastor who committed suicide really brought to light the struggles as Christians are no different than people who do not have faith in Jesus. We all can feel hopeless sometimes. I completely agree with you also about the need for them to serve others as it will be helpful to have them work through their issues they are facing.

    • Melissa Hermosillo says:

      Thank you for sharing this Kristie! Love it! I love that you said to listen to their dreams. Many times that is also a reason of frustration, that we as listeners, don’t give as much importance. We need to feel supported by others and so do other people. Know that what God has put in their heart matters and it is important to others like it is important to them, and that God is doing something in them and through them and He is not done.. may God help us be supporters of others and that we may listen to those dreams and hopes God has put in their hearts.

    • Tabitha Lee says:

      Hi Kristie!
      It is so sad the loss of a good man at Harvest. God is sovereign and will bring beauty from these ashes.
      I wish that my loved one was saved so I could walk with him through these steps. For now we remain in prayer and showing the love of Jesus to him. My trust in is the fact that he knows the truth and God is more than able to do the work in his heart that needs to happen. I may not be the tool God uses but God is not constrained by that! May we do the work that He has given us where we can and trust God to use others in the lives we are not able to reach.
      Sin is bondage. There is freedom in the gospel.

    • Charlie Colleton says:

      Amen, Kristie! Prayer is powerful, the Word of God is powerful, and intentional friendships/relationships are powerful!

    • Erin Knorr says:

      I totally agree with you that this is a really relevant topic in the culture today. I think it is important to remind them who they are in Christ Jesus, that they are made in the image of Him, are chosen and loved. That He has a purpose for their life. You really hit the point that we need them to focus not so much on themselves but rather on others, as you said it is a joy to serve others.

  • Autumn C Duncan says:

    I really appreciate this compassionate approach to help somebody with suicidal thoughts. Pastor Jeff did an amazing job giving us the “four L’s” to remember how to serve someone during a very difficult time. After losing an aunt to suicide, it made me change my master’s program, as I would not want anybody else to feel hopeless. After hearing this podcast, I feel that I would be better equipped to serve someone who is feeling suicidal. Being they’re fully for someone or as Pastor Jeff phrased it, leaning into, essential in helping somebody through this process!

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      I am sorry to hear about your aunt. The reason I got into counseling was because I realized that I wanted to help the hopeless as well.
      I sent an email with this episode attached to all the spiritual leaders within my church staff. I realized that I want to be equipped and so should our teams, church staff, and families.
      What you and I came to understand is that we have to be ready. But, many people aren’t ready and aren’t getting ready. I want to encourage you to send this episode off to whoever the Lord places on your heart too so that the equipped multiply.

  • Melissa Hermosillo says:

    Help people process their disappointment and their hurt. I loved that! I don’t know how we become so selfish with our time, words, attention and love with the people around us. We become so good talking about us, but the thing is that the people we are talking with, are also just trying to get their point across. So conversations are really just becoming heartless and with no real interaction and meaning. That happens many times in counseling sessions too.. The person is talking but in reality, as we listen, we are already planning what we are going to say, how we are going to say it, and if maybe we will get distracted and think about other things. What if we become people who will actually listen profoundly, asking more questions, looking at them, and even if we have nothing to say, keep listening and comforting them.. Help us God to be there for people and help them really process their hurt and be a vessel and speak your word when it is needed.

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      I was extremely convicted when Pastor Jeff mentioned our calendars asking if we are even able to take the time to disciple/counsel someone with this issue. We do get selfish with our times, words, and attention. We do get distracted or spend more time to preparing to speak rather than listening. These issues go into the realm of the “leaning.” We can’t lean in and help if we are distracted or too busy. I think I will have to readjust my schedule to free myself up for more counseling.

  • Ulyana Gomes says:

    Pastor Jeff, thank you for this sensitive and important topic. Recently, very close friend of ours died. And the most devastating part was for my husband that he didn’t notice nothing few days before the tragedy. It’s an absolute heartbreaking still recovering from. Thank you again for talking openly and raising this topic. I really love your 4L’s all of then so important to be equip and be able to glorify God in the middle of distress. In darkness moment of the persons life to be there and pray, pray, pray, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom even words to say. More importantly, our assurance and the assurance of our loved ones is not founded upon my own actions, but on the actions of my Savior who can save and give life. And follow God’s heart is most important that we lean on. And yes discipleship is involved a time, but God knows each of our heart. The person who struggles with suicidal ideation often needs most is a loving ear without incredulous responses or patronizing promises. And it brought up that people see in us the peace, grace, mercy, comfort, and assurance that can only come from those who find themselves firmly situated at the foundation of the cross.

    • Tabitha Lee says:

      Thank you for sharing Ulyana. I am so sorry for the loss of your close friend. I will be praying for you and your husband and the family members who are struggling to understand and hurting. You said in your post that people need a loving ear without incredulous responses or patronizing promises. Many hurting people have heard the “christianeze” statements that leave them frustrated. May we ring biblical truth in love to the table. Not our words or worldly encouragement, but powerful words of truth and wisdom from the Lord. Blessings.

  • Tabitha Lee says:

    The threat of suicide became a reality in our family a year and a half ago. There was a dark cloud of sin and the destruction that brought our loved one to this point. I can remember standing in my bathroom and praying in the name of Jesus and resisting the enemy – telling the enemy he must leave my home and this spirit of suicide was not welcome. It was time to take drastic measures.
    Pastor Jeff give for ways we can help: Love, Listen, Launch and Lean. I have added some personal notes with the ones given by Pastor Jeff.
    Love the person and pray for them and with them. Suicide is contemplative over time as they tell themselves that there is no way out of the dilemma. It was sin that drove them to that place of desperation and feeling as though there is no way out. Suicide is going against God’s way of living. We had to show grace and unconditional love of Jesus to our loved one. Praying daily.
    Listen to the person. They feel lost and without hope. We need to listen with a biblical discernment. It is clear in our family that it was sin and its destructive nature and the hiding of the sin that caused the desperation and depression. When counseling we need to listen for trigger words and phrases that discuss death.
    Launch into an action plan. So far you have loved, prayed and listened. Ask the person to make a commitment or sign a covenant agreeing not to commit suicide. In our case our family member was already cutting and it was serious. He was taken to the hospital and brought to a point of daily accountability and separation from social media and access. It is with sadness that I do not feel that this family member is saved and is still rejecting the truth of God’s Word. We continue to pray.
    Lean into the hard work of follow-up and discipleship. Though our family member is rejecting the Lord at this time, it does not mean that we do not lean into the hard work of showing love and spending time with them. Prayer for God’s work in his life is a big part of what we do.

  • Alejandro Anchondo says:

    It is so important to note, as Pastor Jeff said, that suicide typically comes from when an individual has convinced them self that the only option is suicide. We have to note the spiritual warfare involved here. Not only is the flesh sinful and seeking what would seemingly relieve the pains or issues they deal with, but the Enemy is out to destroy tempting people towards this tragic sinful decision.
    I also thought it was important to note that the biggest issue is the leaning and launching. I know others have said that, but I must reiterate it. It isn’t hard to get involved, but it can be hard to stay involved. This is difficult because of the time, energy and dedication it takes. Moreover, it is especially draining to work on these things with someone because it can even lead you into depression, frustrations, and doubts. Whoever is doing this kind of counseling… needs to be filled up by the Spirit daily. The counselor needs to tap into the Lord, abide in Christ so that they can be useful in this area. If not, they will find themselves losing energy, getting frustrated with the counselee, and losing steam on the long term care.

  • Erin Knorr says:

    A great Podcast, on a difficult subject. Not a lot of people talk about suicide, and the steps to help in a biblical way. It is pretty common that when they do talk about it they typically bring up that we are to love them and to listen to them. But the later part of the ‘L’s” of launching them into an action plan and than to follow into a discipleship with them. I was thinking about this that love is so vital because out of the love for the person, comes listening to them, and than you love them so you launch into an action and than it is also the love for them that motivates you to disciple them, to pour into them. I think we sometimes forget that Suicide is a big deal, and it takes time to heal from that. I really see the benefit of discipling them, following up with them and to get them involved in the local church.

  • Charlie Colleton says:

    Wonderful, encouraging & insightful. To be completely honest and transparent, this was still tough to sit through — Jarrid Wilson (the young pastor who recently took his life) was a friend of mine that I first met 10 years ago when we were attending a young adults ministry together. Suicide is so very tragic and so hard to be able to wrap your mind around. These four L’s that Jeff gave to us are so important and we need to intentional about using them. We need to be aware of our friends and loved ones and we need to not be afraid to check in on them.

  • Pablo Valdez Acosta says:

    This lesson came in at God’s timing because we have a daughter of God in our kids ministry at our church who has been vocal about suicide and bullying. Thank you Jeff, I will begin to implement these ideas into her lessons weekly and approach the parents about setting up accountability partners and contracts.
    You are right in the area of psychologists and physicians using methods that do not heal the heart. The girl’s heart is hurt by what I believe to be the “there but not intentional father” and the need for attention for love and acceptance. it is a sad situation but this is the example of leading others to the physician and not being the physician.

    • Tom Zimbelman says:

      Hi Pablo,

      That is a heavy burden that must be on your heart, especially when you hear young people explain the difficulties they are going through at that vulnerable age. Sounds like you have a good plan, and good idea to talk with the parents about some helpful tools.
      God bless you,

      Tom

  • Melissa Hermosillo says:

    Being a victim is a choice. I loved that that was said, I don’t think we ever hear this idea. I believe it is an idea that scares us and we feel like we are condemning if we say it or even think it. People are allowed to suffer and we do not what they have been through, so why would we tell them that feeling like a victim is a choice we make? It sound harsh. We all have moments in our lives that we have felt they have been unfair and many of us live our lives being upset over a situation that robs our joy, our peace and our day to day lives. Once we take ownership that we are having the attitude of a victim, we take aim trying to figure out what we must leave behind. Processing the situation and really praying and analyzing what attitudes and ways of thinking are damaging us. The last thing is to take action. Many times we are good at planning, but not executing. If i don’t take what God has to offer me, it is my fault.. not His. We are called to live a life go gratitude and He is willing to help us if we just stop and listen for a minute.

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