Why do I take seriously questions relating to self-harm and suicide? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Last night as I was getting ready to go to bed, I got a question sent to me for a ministry I help answer questions for. It was a question about suicide that also referenced self-harm. The person who passed the question on to me asked me if I was okay to handle it. It was hard, but yes. I was. I did.
Why is it so hard?
Let me tell you about the worst day of my life.
When I met Allie years ago, she had actually just recently before then had a suicide attempt over a guy who was a jerk to her. When I met her, she thought she could make it right with him. That changed quickly. Before too long, she didn’t care about making it right with him. She was interested in me.
So go back a few years ago. I know the date. I don’t want to tell you for my own reasons. I had just got done with a podcast. Allie and my Dad and I were going to go to the movies. I went to see her and was talking to her and she was being quiet. Something seemed strange. I told her I needed to go to the drugstore and she still seemed out of it. Then I heard her say three words that ripped my world apart.
“Nick. I overdosed.”
At that moment, everything comes crashing down. I called 911 instantly in a panic. Fortunately, there was a fire station about a mile away from where we lived. I was calling everyone. I called her parents. I called my parents. My parents lived next door and my mother ran down and jumped on the bed and begged Allie to keep her eyes open.
The firefighters and ambulance that arrived assured us she was going to be okay. They were taking her to the hospital. My Dad and I would follow in his car. Mine had recently been hit by someone and thus I didn’t have one. When my Dad said we would follow the ambulance, I had no idea how literal he meant that. We followed right behind them the whole time through intersections and red lights even.
Allie had multiple people waiting to see her in the waiting room as we had called so many people on the way. Sadly, most of them did not get to see her. I was restless the whole time wondering when I would get to see her. When the time came, I went back there. Of all the people who were allowed to be in the room, two at a time. I was the one who was there the whole time. Her mother also arrived from Atlanta and stayed with her.
I stayed that night with Allie all night long. I didn’t get any sleep. I had to sit in a chair and someone had to come in regularly and turn the lights on to do things like draw blood and other such things. I don’t remember exactly what was done, but I remember being there. The next day, my parents took me home so I could get some sleep for a little while.
I went back that evening and just stayed by her side. We knew sometime they were going to take her to the mental health wing of the hospital. It could have been that night. We didn’t know. When that happened, I couldn’t be with her. The time came that I needed to go. Allie wanted me to stay, but it wasn’t that easy. I had no car. If they took her to the mental health wing, then I would be there at the hospital all night alone with no food and no place to sleep. Not only that, Allie had done this because she felt like two friends of hers had abandoned her. If I go, will she feel abandoned?
It was a hard decision, but I went home. An hour or so later she called me. I was scared she was going to be angry with me. Instead, she said I was right. Within an hour they had taken her to the mental health wing. From there, for the most part, I couldn’t reach her. She could call me sometimes, but they were the rare times.
So I sat at home alone. Many of you know I love doing apologetics, but there was no interest. I would sit in the chair in the living room just watching TV. My mother took care of everything in the house. Also, this time, there was a lot of anger rising up inside of me.
I couldn’t imagine how Allie could do this to me. How could she be willing to leave me like this after all I had done for her? Did these friends matter more to her than me? Was she just telling me that I was no longer worth it? I’m not a good enough reason to go on living?
I remember well the next time I would see her. Allie was taking Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at the hospital. There was a long hall to get to where she was and at the end there was a set of doors with windows you could see through, a short tiny hallway, and another set of doors like that. Now keep in mind, I love Allie, but I was going to tell her how hurt I was and all manner of things. I had a lot of anger in me and I was preparing all I was going to say. It was ready.
Until I went through the first set of doors and saw her at the end of the long hallway after that. As soon as I saw her, immediately I had a mental wipe. I forgot everything I was going to say.
We walked back to the mental health wing. Allie had been allowed to go out for DBT, but soon she would have to go back. We sat on a little bench outside and did I don’t remember what. I’m sure it was talking, hugging, kissing, things of that sort. Once again, it was devastating to see her go back and know I couldn’t see her.
You have to understand that I have a deep devotion to my wife. If things are not the way I think they should be between us, it’s hard for me to function. It is a great disappointment in my life when I think that I do not please Allie. I am always striving to be her man.
A few days later, Allie was able to come home. When she was home, it was wonderful for the first month. Allie was wanting to take care of the house, she was wanting to lose the extra weight she has, she was sharing great notes on Facebook about the joys of knowing Jesus and wanting everyone to know Him, and she was open to my love and freely giving me hers. She walked with a confidence I hadn’t seen. It left me more and more inspired to make changes in my life and be a better man. Ladies. Learn this. If you have a man in your life, nothing will make that man come alive and face challenges like him knowing he brings you joy and you enjoy him.
Except one day, one of those friends she’d thought she’d lost. He had made up with her and then on Facebook he told her she was stupid and from that time on things came crashing down. It all vanished. I do not speak to that person to this day. Before we left Knoxville, I tried to make it right, but things failed miserably. I had to talk to several people to help me deal with the anger. No doubt, there’s still some of it there. Anytime I see someone hurt Allie like this, that anger comes back. I guard her with my life.
Allie also struggles with self-harm. The last time was not too long ago and it was after nearly nine months without. When I found out, I cried for two hours. When I called the crisis line, they were more convinced I was the one in crisis. I don’t care if you think I’m less of a man really for crying for my wife so much. It is an expression of how much she means to me. I had no idea how much any one person could mean to me until Allie came into my life. Today, aside from Jesus Christ, she is the #1 influence in my life.
It hurts me every time. I wonder what is going on that hurting herself brings more relief than letting herself be loved. It is incredibly painful. I am pleased to say Allie has avoided self-harm since then, but I know this is a struggle.
Because of all of this, these questions matter to me. Suicide is never anything to joke about. It’s never anything to be flippant about. It’s also never anything to be glorified and celebrated. We should not treat celebrities who commit suicide like they’re heroes. We can grieve for them and their families, and it doesn’t mean we speak of them like they’re devils, but let’s make sure we all know the action is wicked.
If Allie had succeeded, I know I had the thought going through my head that I was no longer worth it. I would have lived with that thought forever. Suicide leaves such a painful effect on those left behind. They do get to where they can function, but they are never the same.
If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, please reconsider. Get some help at the Suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Call your local crisis line also. Whatever it is, it is a temporary problem.
Especially if you are a Christian, embrace the love of Christ at this time and realize that even if He seems silent, He is there. He has not abandoned you. You never truly walk alone.
Whoever you are, your life is worth living. You also never need to hurt yourself. Christ took on enough wounds for you. You don’t need to add any more to them. You matter as someone who is in the image of God.
Please don’t make this awful choice. You have more of an impact on those around you than you know and they will never be the same. Celebrate the people who love you today.
When I get a question now about this, I always take it seriously. It matters greatly. I’ve been there. I don’t want anyone else to have to be there.