Church prayer lists are typically filled with names of people struggling with any number of issues. But we seldom discuss depression, mental heath issues or suicide within our congregations.
“Pastor, come quickly! He’s going to kill himself!”
Those words still ring in my ears even though it’s been many years since the night one of my church members frantically yelled them into the phone as soon as I answered.
It’s rare for a pastor to receive a call like that, but it’s becoming more common.
We can be quick to assume that people considering suicide exist only outside the four walls of the church. Yet people contemplating suicide reside within our congregations as well. Thankfully, the individual my church member was concerned about received the help they needed. But, oftentimes, people in these situations remain anonymous and unnoticed.
And as we learned recently, they even reside in our pulpits.
Pastor and author Jarrid Wilson took his own life in the fall of 2019. Just hours before, the 30-year-old posted on social media that he would be officiating the funeral service of a woman who had committed suicide.
“Officiating the funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today,” Wilson wrote on Twitter. “Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.”
Wilson, who along with his wife founded a faith-based organization to address mental health issues called “Anthem of Hope,” was open about his own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. Yet not everyone who struggles — particularly those within the Christian community — is as open as Wilson.