True Stories about Suicide and Ways to Prevent It
A few years after the painting Lost and Found was released by the artist Greg Olsen, the real young man depicted in this painting felt more “lost” than “found” and, after battling depression, decided to take his own life. He had been a friend to the artist’s son, who began wishing that he could go back and be the person to sit on the bench with his friend and talk to him, to tell him he was loved, to tell him he was needed on the earth.
Suicidal thoughts often occur when a person feels alienated from others, when they feel relationships never materialized for them, and when they feel like people would be better off without them. When that is coupled with depression, anxiety, and the hopeless thoughts that things aren’t going to change for them, the idea of taking their own life can enter the picture.
Sometimes, the best suicide prevention is sincerely sharing with a troubled person how much they are loved and needed. They need to feel that their circle of family and friends need them and that the world would be worse if they were no longer a part of it. Sometimes struggling souls don’t even need words. They just need someone to sit with them on their bench. They need to feel loved and valued. Elder Ballard counsels us not to judge these children of God but to reach out. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to heal people, … but we can have an impact in guiding people to some of the resources out there.” He reminds us that we can be one of those resources. “There is nothing more powerful than the arm of love that can be put around those who are struggling.”
In addition to having someone sit with them on their bench individuals contemplating suicide need professional help, and as Elder Ballard said “we can have an impact in guiding [them]” to appropriate counseling and medical resources. If you or someone you know is in a life threatening emergency or in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911.
For additional LDS resources on this subject, please visit:
LDS Family Services provides counseling services and resources for individuals and families facing social and emotional challenges.