Suicide and Self-Harm: a Christian response
5 years ago Triangle 0
By Maddie Mondell
Triangle Staff Writer
There is a pain that finds a place inside of people’s cores and makes them deteriorate slowly. They become so tired of living; so tired of having to fake a smile to the world when deep inside they’re screaming. This is the kind of pain that drives people to hurt or kill themselves.
Suicide and self-harm can be found anywhere and everywhere. According to CollegeCrawler.com, an independent information guide for consumer information, over 30,000 people kill themselves every year in the United States. Out of these suicides, 1,000 will occur on a college campus. This evens out to be about three student suicides every day.
Nearly 0ne out of every 10 college students has been diagnosed with depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the leading cause of suicide. According to College Crawler, just under half of all students will experience at least one bout of depression that will have a significant negative effect on their lives. Fifteen percent of students meet the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression, but never receive one.
This is no exception for Christian colleges, according to Jonathan Doran, director of Counseling and Soul Care.
“Resident directors and assistants received specific training to handle this issue at the beginning of this semester. Not because there’s such an increase at Bryan, but because it’s becoming an issue at colleges across the board,” said Doran.
Doran paints a picture of what a Christian trying to help someone with these issues should look like, what the Christian response should be.
“Our response should be one that looks more like a shepherd. As someone that reaches out and helps people and cares for them in a way that helps guide and sustain them. Where we can be an instrument of healing in their life,” says Doran.
We should be open to these people, Doran said. When someone is struggling with these issues it is because they are hurting and don’t know how to express it. We are to love and care for them just as we would care for and help anyone else.
Thoughts of suicide and self-harm occur when there seems like no way to detach from the stress of society and family. Students often feel powerless, trapped, confused, like a failure, isolated, untrusted, rejected and left with no other way to escape from their own mind.
“Self-harm is such a secretive pain, so sometimes you can’t find it. But students still need help. Self-harm is a complex thing. The different reasons why vary. There isn’t really a cookie cutter response,” said Doran.
For some students on campus, it’s not difficult to imagine this kind of pain.
“It was so severe, the thought of suicide kept piling up and never being able to figure out a way to release it. At some point you realize you need to vent and I didn’t have an outlet. I didn’t feel safe talking about it so I bottled it up,” said a male upperclassman at Bryan who wishes to remain anonymous.
Self-abuse provides a tangible release for internalized conflict to be recognized. This provides a physical focal point to look at when the pain gets too confusing to recognize.
“It was the only pain that I could control and then I could hide it. It was a visible marker to focus on and not just a rotting pain inside of me,” said a female underclassman that cut herself and attempted suicide twice during high school.
Any student dealing with these or similar issues are encouraged to visit the Counseling and Soul Care Department. Students don’t have to come alone, and students who have friends that are dealing with these issues are advised to not try and handle the situation themselves. The counselors are there to help, emphasized Doran.
“A lot of recovery was found in the verse in 1 Peter, about casting my cares upon Him for he cares for me.” Said the female student. “I found purpose in being there for others; caring for others made me happy. I decided to give God a chance and let go of some of my anger.”
Note: Triangle is granting anonymity to these students because the nature of these issues is so delicate.