“When I was being condemned from the four corners of the earth – I had a moment (pause) I had a moment (pause) where I wanted to kill myself – an’ was ready. (pause) What kept me. (pause) Not a scripture. (pause) What kept me (pause) is that every-time I showed up here – you were here. (crowd applauses) I would not take my life (pause) for the one mere reason – (begins to cry) my family loved me, my church loved me and regardless of what anybody says – love lifted me and carried me (crying) (crowd applauses) …. …” ~ Bishop Eddie Long
In 2010 Bishop Eddie Long was accused of sexual misconduct. Nearly six years later and in less than two minutes and eight seconds Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth church in Lithonia, Georgia, gave textbook insight into suicide in a time when the church, in general, has historically struggled to address issues of suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. In my opinion, those were the most powerful two minutes in his many years of preaching. One of his most powerful messages – all in two minutes and eight seconds. Let me tell why.
Here is what he taught us about suicide:
#1 – There is power in human relationships. Being loved by a walking, talking, breathing person can sometimes be more important than the confidence you find in scripture. And sometimes we take that for granted! To be loved by real people is a life saver! That’s why we all need loving relationships in our life. There have been countless times in my career when I’ve heard actively suicidal people say, “If it wasn’t for my mom needing me – I’d be dead” or “My children, when I look in their eyes… I just can’t leave them like that.”
If you’ve never contemplated ending your life, you may not understand this dynamic, but if you have, or you know someone that has, you will understand exactly what I’m talking about.
Love is powerful and when it is experienced in human relationships it reaches a whole new level – It has the ability to save lives! As a matter of fact, even in the bible, the greatest expression of love is found in human form. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” (John 3:16). Imagine that! God’s love expressed in human form! The theological truth that makes the love of God tangible to us. It moves Him closer to us! It makes Him real! Not some distant God who loves us from afar, but a God who comes close to us. As close as real love can reach – He became human.
So don’t take your ‘real relationships’ for granted by spending more time arguing and causing problems for each other, than you do loving each other.
#2 That Power can be leveraged as control. I am almost certain that Bishop Long meant everything he said from the bottom of his heart. He used language that many people that have felt like him use. His words give us insight into how risky suicidal ideations and behaviors are to those that are close to the suicidal person. He tells the congregation that the only thing that prevented him from killing himself was that every time he came to church, they were still there. As much as that means I appreciate how much you love and believe in me. It subconsciously says; As long as you keep coming – I’ll keep living. To his family – if you leave me; I have no reason to live. It literally puts the people that love him in position to psychology be held responsible for his decision to live or die. It holds them psychologically and emotionally captive to the expansive instability of his own emotions.
This dynamic is so common to potential suicide victims who bargain with their support system; enforcing their support system to enable their behavior, which puts their support in a situation that is symbolic to the position they themselves are in. The emotional overwhelming feeling that you are a part of a person’s decision to live or die. This puts a lot of pressure on the support and could ultimately lead to excessive and unmanageable anxiety and severe emotional instability.
So domestic violence abusers use it to control their victims. People with borderline personality disorders use it to control their environment and their relationships. Sometimes these threats are manipulative and sometimes – these threats are real. So you never really know. All we do know, is that even manipulative gestures have lead to death; leaving the support person psychologically trapped.
The truth of the matter is that the person needs more than just people loving them. They need ‘help’ that holds them accountable while addressing the psychological issues related to the ideations of suicide, which is very difficult to do alone. They need safety, not sorrow. And they need all means to their plans eliminated, immediately. Suicide is preventable and depression is treatable, but if you try to tackle it all by yourself, you may find yourself in waters to turbulent to tread.
LEROY SCOTT is a Professionally Licensed Christian Counselor, author, blogger, lecturer, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years of professional counseling experience. He has degrees in Counseling & Psychology & Divinity. He has helped develop mental health counseling offices, counseling & support group ministries, premarital programs, mentorship programs and more for the Christian Church over the past 10 years. He has treated and continues to treat victims of abuse, perpetrators of abuse, depression, anxiety, domestic violence and more. He has also provided crisis counseling to numerous mass tragedy events. He can be reached at (225) 405-5895 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For help with suicidal thoughts or if you know someone that is struggling with depression or any other mental health issues talk ‘straight’ with them about it.
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