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Resources on Grief, Suicide and Mental Illness
By Rock Church

Information on Grief

For a Bible-based Grief Support Group in San Diego:

Information on Suicide

People who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, need to know that they’re not alone. By some estimates, as many as one in six people will become seriously suicidal at some point in their lives.

Helping Those Who are Suicidal

Reach out.

Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you can trust or with a professional. Don’t keep your struggles to yourself, let others help bear the burden. Rock Church Outreach Ministry: “After Shock”

Suicidal thinking is usually associated with problems that can be treated.

Clinical depression, anxiety disorders, chemical dependency, and other disorders produce profound emotional distress. They also interfere with effective problem-solving. But you need to know that studies show that the vast majority of people who receive appropriate treatment improve or recover completely.

If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that solutions don’t exist, only that you are currently unable to see them.

Pastors and counselors (and sometimes friends) can help you to see solutions that otherwise are not apparent to you.

Suicidal crises are almost always temporary.

Although it might seem as if your unhappiness will never end, it is important to realize that crises are usually time-limited. Solutions are found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Suicide is sometimes referred to as “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Don’t let suicide rob you of better times that will come your way when you allow more time to pass.

Problems are seldom as great as they appear at first glance.

Job loss, financial problems, loss of important people in our lives – all such stressful events can seem catastrophic at the time they are happening. Then, month or years later, they usually look smaller and more manageable. Sometimes, imagining ourselves "five years down the road" can help us to see that a problem that currently seems catastrophic will pass and that we will survive.

Reasons for living can help sustain a person in pain.

A famous psychologist once conducted a study of Nazi concentration camp survivors, and found that those who survived almost always reported strong beliefs about what was important in life. You, too, might be able to strengthen your connection with life if you consider what has sustained you through hard times in the past. Family ties, faith in God, and dreams for the future are just a few of the many aspects of life that provide meaning and gratification, but which we can lose sight of due to emotional distress.

If you know of someone who is suicidal. Do not leave the person alone.
  • CLARIFY - “Do you really want to die, or do you simply want to change the way you live your life?”
  • CONTRADICT - "Your desired outcome will not be achieved. Suicide will create more problems than it solves. Suicide creates an adverse and undesired “ripple effect” affecting others."
  • DELAY - Not necessarily solving all of their problems but to get them to the next level of care. Remove any firearms, drugs, alcohol, or sharp objects that could be used in an attempt.
  • REFER - Always assist in accessing higher level of care. For life threatening emergencies or immediate response, call 9-1-1.

Information for those who have lost loved ones through suicide

Connect with friends and family

Talk! Talk! Talk! Speak of your pain and loss for as long and as often as you need to speak of it. Get with people you are comfortable talking to.

Express your grief.

Don’t suppress, avoid or postpone grief’s expression. Tears are cathartic and cleansing and give yourself time to grieve.

Faith questions.

Connect with your pastor for perspectives of faith and suicide. A person is not defined by how they died but by how they lived. Many people who die by suicide as they last act cry out to God for His grace and understanding. When you don’t know what to think, fall back on what you do know: God is gracious, merciful and full of love and compassion.


Reflect on the good times/pleasant memories. Identify legacy issues that you would like to pass on to future generations (i.e. good traits to follow, bad traits to forgive).

Strengthen coping resources.

Stay connected with your supportive community and do the things that strengthen you and give you hope (e.g. Scripture, prayer, support group, journal, exercise, regular routines, recreation, etc.).

Give yourself time to grieve.

Don’t feel pressure to move on quickly. Grief shouldn’t be hurried. Managing the suicide loss takes time. In fact, it may take a lifetime to process. Understand that each individual and family grieves uniquely.

For assistance contact Rock Church Care Counseling: 619-226-7625

  • Suicide in the Bible
  • Abimelech – (Judges 9:54)
  • Samson – (Judges 16:30)
  • Saul – (1 Samuel 31:5)
  • Saul’s armor bearer – (1. Samuel 31:5)
  • Ahithophel – (2. Samuel 17:23)
  • Zimri – (1 Kings 16:18)
  • Judas – (Matthew 27:5)
Indicators of Suicidal Ideation
  • Verbal
  • Open talk of suicide
  • Talk of not being present in the near future
  • General verbal shut down / withdrawal
  • Emotional
  • Guilt, shame embarrassment
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Feelings of hostility, revenge
  • Severe depression
  • Anger, rage
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness
Behavioral Indicators of Suicidal Ideation
  • Apathy, insomnia
  • Sudden improvement in attitude
  • Poor judgment
  • Available methods
  • Clearly thought out plan
  • Giving away possessions
  • Buying life insurance
  • Putting personal affairs in order
  • Changes in personality
  • Talking about a long trip
  • Obsession with death
  • Making amends with people wronged
  • Tying up loose ends
  • Taking unusual risks
Situational – Life Events which could lead to Suicidal Ideation
  • Financial crisis
  • Sexual assault / abuse
  • Demotion / suspension
  • Loss of cherished possessions
  • Loss of mobility / ability
  • Loss of cognitive functioning
  • Change in role within family
  • Change in status
  • Buying a weapon
  • Loss of loved one by death, divorce, separation, etc.
  • Loss of money, prestige or job
  • Retirement
  • Sickness, serious illness, surgery, accident, loss of faculties or dismembered
  • Threat of criminal prosecution
  • Change in life situation
  • Success, promotion, increased responsibilities
  • Failed attempts in counseling
Covert Clues
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Change in sleep, appetite
  • Loss of energy, motivation
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities,
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, apathy
  • Deterioration of personal appearance
  • Deterioration job performance
  • Frequent somatic complaints
  • Preoccupation with negative / death

Suicide and Christianity

Is the Christian forgiven for suicide? Yes. But suicide is not an option. We do not have the right to take our own lives. Suicide is clearly wrong as an act of self-murder, though forgivable if the person was truly saved. A person’s last act in life does not define the person’s life. A person’s last sin just prior to dying does not negate the power of the Cross. A Christian is known by their fruit. Therefore, a person contemplating suicide should never consider suicide as an option as this act puts in question if they are truly saved.

Salvation is not based upon what you do. In other words, you don't have to obey any Law of God in order to become saved. This is because no one is saved by keeping the Law of God (Galatians 2:21; Romans 3:24-25). But that does not mean that you can go and sin all you want. Romans 6:1-3 expressly condemns such action. Instead, we are saved for the purpose of purity (1 Thessalonians 4:7). Our salvation is strictly from God: "By grace through faith you have been saved…" (Ephesians 2:8). Other than acting by faith in trusting and accepting what Jesus did on the cross, you don't do a thing (John 1:12-13) in order to become saved. Since you did not get your salvation by what you did, you cannot lose it by what you do.

What about the unforgivable sin? Is that suicide? No. Suicide is not the unforgivable sin. Jesus spoke of the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:22-32. The context is when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Therefore, suicide is not the unforgivable sin. In 1 John 1:9 it says, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Confession of sin and its natural result of repentance are necessary elements of the Christian's life. But, what about the sins that we do not know we commit? If we do not confess them and do not repent of them, are we still saved? Of course we are! Otherwise, we would be forced to confess and repent of every single sin we ever commit. In effect, we'd be back under the Law, living by a rule of absolute repentance of every detail lest you be damned. This is bondage, not freedom. Jesus said His yoke was light, not hard (Matthew 11:27-30). So, repentance is not the cause of salvation, but it is a result of salvation. The believer repents from his sins upon trusting in Christ and thereafter, continues to repent of further sins that the Lord reveals to him.

Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

American Psychiatric Association Definition of Mental Disorder

“A clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in a person and that is associated with present distress (a painful symptom) or disability (impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering (death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom.)”

Information on Mental Disorders

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. 57.7 million people. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

  • Anxiety Disorder - Approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year.
  • Social Phobia - Approximately 15 million American adults age 18 and over, or about 6.8 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have social phobia. Social phobia begins in childhood or adolescence, typically around 13 years of age.
  • Specific Phobia - Specific phobia involves marked and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. Approximately 19.2 million American adults age 18 and over, or about 8.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have some type of specific phobia.
  • Mood Disorders - Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder. Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.
  • Bipolar Disorder - Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  • Suicide - In 2006, 33,300 (approximately 11 per 100,000) people died by suicide in the U.S. More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.
  • Schizophrenia - Approximately 2.4 million American adults, or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older in a given year, have schizophrenia.
  • Panic Disorder - Approximately 6 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 2.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Approximately 2.2 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 1.0 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have OCD.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.
  • Eating Disorders - The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. In their lifetime, an estimated 0.6 percent of the adult population in the U.S. will suffer from anorexia, 1.0 percent from bulimia, and 2.8 percent from a binge eating disorder.
  • Personality Disorders - Personality disorders represent "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it."4 These patterns tend to be fixed and consistent across situations and are typically perceived to be appropriate by the individual even though they may markedly affect their day-to-day life in negative ways. Among American adults ages 18 and over, an estimated 9.1% have a diagnosable personality disorder. Several more common personality disorders include:
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder - Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by an individual's disregard for social rules and cultural norms, impulsive behavior, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others. Approximately 1.0 percent of people aged 18 or over have antisocial personality disorder.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder - Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by extreme social inhibition, sensitivity to negative evaluation, and feelings of inadequacy. Individuals with avoidant personality disorder frequently avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed, humiliated, or disliked. An estimated 5.2 percent of people age 18 or older have an avoidant personality disorder.

1 in 5 U.S. adults suffers mental ills (Jan 19, 2012)

By Steven Reinberg Health Day Reporter 
THURSDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News)

Nearly 46 million American adults have had a mental illness in the past year, a new government report shows. Almost 30 percent of those aged 18 to 25 experienced a mental illness, twice as many as those aged 50 and older at just over 14 percent. And more women than men suffered a mental illness in the last year (23 percent vs. nearly 17 percent), according to the report released Thursday from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). "We all know people who have had a depression or an anxiety disorder, maybe something more serious like a bipolar disorder, but this is a pretty big number," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies. "This is only the second year where we have done this as a separate report and the findings were not significantly different from last year," Delany noted, so there are not enough data to see a trend. The reasons why so many people are suffering from these problems cannot be easily summed up, he said. The recent economic downturn may be a factor for some, he said. "But these conditions are multifactorial -- there are genetic issues, there are biological issues, there are social issues and also personal issuers," Delany explained. A lot of people who are not receiving treatment for their mental illness, he said, cite lack of insurance as the main reason why. "There are people who know they have a mental health problem, but aren't interested in getting care," he added. "We know with the appropriate use of medication and with good treatment people can recover and go on to lead very healthy and productive lives," Delany said. The new report defines mental illness as having a mental, behavioral or emotional problem based on criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard reference for mental illness. The report excluded developmental and substance use disorders. According to the report, some 11.4 million adults suffered from serious mental illness in the past year, which is defined as an illness that affected a person's ability to function normally. Mental illness doesn't just affect people, but also takes an economic toll -- about $300 billion in 2002, the researchers said. Mental illness also accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other illness, including cancer and heart disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Highlights of the report include:
  • About 39 percent of those with a mental illness received mental health services.
  • Nearly 61 percent of those with severe mental illness received services.
  • 8.7 million Americans had suicidal thoughts in the last year.
  • 2.5 million made plans to kill themselves.
  • 1.1 million attempted suicide.
  • ·People who abuse drugs or alcohol had higher rates of mental illness than others (20 percent vs. about 6 percent).
  • One-fourth of those with serious mental illness were substance abusers.
  • 1.9 million 12- to 17-year-olds had a major depression in the past year.
  • ·Teens suffering depression were twice as likely to have a drug problem than teens who did not have a major depression (roughly 37 percent vs. 18 percent).
  • Dr. Ihsan Salloum, director of the Addiction Psychiatry and Psychiatric Comorbidity Programs at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said not only is the number of people with mental problems staggering, but so is the unmet need for care.
  • "There is a gap between the need and how many people reach treatment," he said. "Mental illness is a treatable problem, and the outcome is as good as any chronic medical problem."
  • Given the number of people with drug and alcohol problems who also have mental problems, those with a substance abuse problem should also be screened for a mental problem, Salloum said.
  • "If someone has a severe mental disorder and an addiction, it is imperative to take care of both problems, because the two problems feed on each other causing a bad outcome," he said.
  • And with the number of young people with these problems, the focus should be on prevention, Salloum added.

More information

To learn about mental health, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.