This post was triggered by the sudden passing away of Ricky Rick, so soon after the suicidal death of another icon, Patrick Shai last month. My heart goes out to his family and the broader artistic community. According to the World Health Organisation “ Every 40 seconds a person dies by suicide somewhere in the world.” In South Africa there are up to 23 suicides recorded per day and an estimated 20 more attempted suicides according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. It is possible that you or someone in your circle of acquaintances has been afflicted in your life by this unfortunate phenomenon.

By God’s grace, I have never been pushed to the edge of the cliff in my life where the thought of suicide ever crossed my mind. Not having been at the point of no return yet, I will be the first to refrain from any form of judgementalism and preconceived notions. I came to the realisation that individuals who committed suicide or contemplate to commit it, are not necessarily ‘’ bad” people. My contention is that they did not even really wanted to die. They have simply reached a point where they have by far exceeded their threshold to cope with their current pain and misery.

Suicide is complicated and happens for various reasons. In our day and age, we live rushed and feverish lives to a point of severe burn out and then our sanity goes. There are also economic pressures exacerbated by Covid-19 where businesses are closing down, some people are losing their jobs and others cannot cope with the rising costs of living, unmet expectations in relationships, mental and physical abuse, being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, failure in one or the other endeavour, low self-esteem to name but a few. In most cases, depression is the top contributing factor. Some people can get so overwhelmed by their current reality and are frantically searching for answers. They reach a stage where they start believing that these problems cannot be solved at all. Every suicide or suicide attempt is a desperate cry for help. Our lives are moving at such a frantic pace and if we do not sharpen our sense of self-awareness, we might not even pick up this cry for help from those around us. 
There are certain realities in life that we can simply not wish away. The following are some pointers to help us maintain the right perspective:

1. Banish your pride and do not be afraid to reach out to someone and ask for help. The potency of a thought, is in its secrecy.

2. Live a balanced life and do not burn your candle at both ends. Never compromise on meaningful recreational time for yourself to recharge and replenish.

3. Recognise some of the warning signals that can lead to suicidal tendencies very early and urgently initiate corrective action eg. lethargy, lack of focus, withdrawal from key relationships, hopelessness, insomnia, mood swings, preoccupation with thoughts about death and unwarranted guilt.

4. Maintain your spiritual health at optimal levels. Deep on the inside, you are a spirit being created in the image of God. His presence indwells you and His divine providence is constantly available in the darkest moments of your life. You will have to be regularly in touch with your Creator through prayer, worship, meditating on the Word and fellowship with other believers.

5. Surround yourself with the right people that will infuse you with energy and hope as opposed to the parasitic ones that will drain you and drive you over the cliff of despair. Nurture those key friendships in life; isolation can exacerbate the onset of depression where you start feeling lonely and labour under a perception that nobody cares for you.

6. Establish a partnership of accountability with a small group of people you can trust. It will create a safe space to unload any potential issue that impedes progress in your life for correction, direction and momentum.

7. Develop your sense of awareness about those people that are in your immediate sphere of influence. Reach out to them with sincerity by regularly asking them about their well being – Are you OK? In what way can I assist in this situation? This will help you to pick up suicidal tendencies timeously. Take it seriously and be willing to help rather sooner or later. Be a good listener without being condescending and enlist appropriate professional help if need be. By genuinely serving others, their progress will infuse you with hope and push your dial towards higher levels of optimism about life.

For those that are crying out for help, may I encourage you to be bold by taking the first step to make yourself known for who you are in an honest and transparent manner to those close to you. There are just too much at stake and some people’s future is dependent on you making the correct choice. It might seems that you’ve reached a cul de sac in life and suicide is the logical option. If you just seriously reflect about the people around you, I can guarantee that there will be someone who sufficiently has your best interest at heart and who is prepared to walk that extra mile with you. Above all, your Creator undoubtedly cares about you. He promised us in Jeremiah 29 : 11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

There is hope!

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