“I want to die”
Four words that have buzzed in and out of my mind countless times over the past two decades.
At times they have drifted through without my paying much attention to them, as strange as that may sound.
At other times, it has felt like those words have been branded behind my eyes, and I’ve been unable to focus on anything other than their seductive promise of release relief. As Nietzsche once said:
“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
It might sound strange for those who haven’t experienced suicidal thoughts, but for me and many like me; the thought of suicide has been, if not a consolation, then certainly a distraction from the maelstrom of life.
And whilst they do bring short lived relief, the waves of disabling guilt and grief crash in almost as quickly leaving exhaustion in their wake.
I wish I were the only one, but suicidal thoughts affect a staggering number of people. Mind estimate that 1 in 5 of us have suicidal thoughts in our lives, with those aged between 16 and 24 the most likely to report suicidal thinking.
It’s something we have to start speaking about, because silence in the greatest ally suicide has, so we need to break it. We don’t like talking about darkness, do we?
One of the darkest days in human history is one which no-one speaks of, one on which even the Bible is silent.
The day between crucifixion and resurrection, where Jesus has died and hope is nowhere to be found.
Theologian Epperly writes:
“Holy Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection, fear and hope, pain and comfort. Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and for Jesus’ disciples.”
Suicidal thoughts have been my Holy Saturday, the times when it’s felt like hope has been buried and no light can be found. We have to talk about Holy Saturday times. We have to talk about suicidal thoughts. Because silence does nothing but increase the fear.
We have to talk about the silence and darkness of suicidal thoughts and of Holy Saturday, because it’s the only way we can welcome sound and light.
Richard Rohr seems to offer a pattern for holding the silence and the sound, the darkness and the light. He writes:
“God wants useable instruments who will carry the mystery, the weight of glory and the burden of sin simultaneously, who can bear the darkness and the light, who can hold the paradox of incarnation – flesh and spirit, human and divine, joy and suffering, at the same time, just as Jesus did.”
Jesus’ silence on Holy Saturday speaks to our own silence in suffering. It urges us to speak into the dark and silent spaces. So let’s speak of suicide, to make space for the sound of hope.