For some, suicide crashes into their lives without warning, it tornadoes through families leaving a painful wreckage in its’ wake.
For others, suicide is insidious. It’s the flash of a thought, the ache for an end to the pain.
For still more, suicide is a reminder of the guilt and despair that lingers after a suicide attempt.
Some of the pain experienced in life can be sympathised with; the loss of a loved one, or the diagnosis of a critical illness, but all too often, people touched by suicide aren’t sympathised with.
The man who’s desperately trying to hold on, but unable to escape the the suicidal thoughts which assault him every day.
The teenager whose life ended too soon, whose family are trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of a new normality without them.
The woman in her hospital bed, trying to come to terms with the scars her arms now bear and the reality that she tried to take her own life, her family at home, wondering what went wrong.
In the face of the darkest parts of the human mind; how can we respond?
Whatever feelings may be at the forefront of our own hearts and minds; hurt, anger, shame (and these are important and valid and must be cared for) the response has to be one of compassion.
Compassion, reaching out to share in the person’s pain can bring hope in the most tangible of ways.
Compassion is what the angel who nourished Elijah on Mount Horeb and it was what empowered Paul as he spoke to his desperate jailer. It doesn’t just speak trite words of sympathy, it’s the gut wrenching cry for someone else’s pain.
It’s an expression of love – and it’s a beacon of hope.
So in whichever way you face suicide, whether personally or professionally; respond with compassion. It can be the brightest light to get someone through their darkest night.