USA (MNN) — We’re continuing a conversation today about Mental Health Awareness Month and the U.S. suicide rate. Read yesterday’s article here. Suicide claimed over 47,000 lives in 2017, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Suicide is a crisis inside church walls as well as outside, Dean Vander Mey of Set Free Ministries observes. The self-inflicted deaths they encounter are often – but not always – connected to substance addiction.
On a daily basis, Set Free’s staff and volunteers utilize Scripture, counseling, and medical aid to help people work through suicide- and addiction-related issues. More about Set Free’s work here.
Vander Mey says local churches need to work in suicide prevention, too. Hurting hearts are everywhere, but few believers offer an introduction to “pele’ yo‘ets” – the wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ.
“If we’re going to be the body of Christ, and… God’s heart is to seek and save those who are lost, to search for the strays and to bring in [and] bind up the wounded, then – as the body of Christ – we should be doing that,” he says.
“That’s going to include prayer, but it’s also going to include action.”
Suicide prevention and you
God’s Word instructs believers to “be doers of the word and not hearers only,” as recorded in James 1. If you know someone’s hurting, first tell them – immediately – that you care and hope is readily available in Christ. Then, connect with Set Free through email, or call the ministry at (616) 726-5400 for direction regarding “next steps.”
“Love covers over a multitude of sin. Reach out,” Vander Mey recommends.
“The number one trick of Satan is isolation.”
He points to Genesis 3 as an example.
“When Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing they did was run and hide. They thought they were bad and God was mad. God actually pursued them, came into their darkness while they were hiding, and says, ‘hey, let’s talk.’”
Vander Mey also describes a process Set Free uses to help someone who’s suicidal. “[Suicide is] a spiritual, emotional and physical issue,” he begins, outlining steps the ministry follows to help a person in need.
“If a person is a danger to themselves or others, I say, ‘let’s get help immediately,’” Vander Mey says. “Get that person to the hospital because… they might need some medication to settle things down so that they can start to get out the issue.”
Once the physical crisis is resolved, “now let’s find out what’s causing all of this,” he continues.
“Let’s get to the real issue, because – usually – there’s something underneath that (suicidal ideation).”
Header image courtesy of Gabriel via Unsplash.