Kay's Blog


Free + Above | World Suicide Prevention Day

Growing up in church we didn’t talk much about our problems, much less about emotional problems. If we did, it was mostly in hushed whispers, and we said things like “She had a nervous breakdown.” I never knew what a nervous breakdown was, but I knew it was something I didn’t want to ever happen to me or to someone I loved. And nobody – absolutely nobody – talked about suicide.

But then suicide knocked on my door and I couldn’t pretend anymore that it didn’t exist. A sweet neighbor who found herself in the middle of an unwanted divorce left her suicide note on my front porch. I made frantic calls and left notes on her locked gate to let me know she was ok. But later that day the call I had been dreading came; she had shot herself and was not going to survive.

Years later suicide drew even closer as the husband of my dear cousin, a wonderful, warm and caring pastor of small churches in Texas, took his life when the shame and guilt of financial difficulties and a secret alcohol addiction overwhelmed him.

Then suicide came to my family. My funny, creative, loving and severely mentally ill son, Matthew, killed himself after decades of pain and suffering. His hopelessness almost became my hopelessness as I went down into the depths of catastrophic grief and loss.

Major depression and anxiety were present for my neighbor, my cousin’s husband and for my son. Fear and dread of perhaps a bleak future colored their thinking until they couldn’t see any other way out. Depression is not only hard to live with, it can be lethal.

With millions of people around the world living with varying levels of depression – including me – we have to get better at disclosing it, talking about it, seeking help, and continuing to offer hope to each other. Communities of faith can embrace those suffering with mental illnesses, offering solace, comfort, practical help and unconditional love – especially when depression doesn’t go away.

I have the utmost respect for people living with depression and anxiety – those who continue to trust Jesus and follow him even when it seldom feels good. Let’s admit it – when you feel good, it’s fairly easy to trust God and believe that He is in control of the details of your life, and to have hope that pesky problems will resolve themselves quickly. Praise and worship songs stir your emotions and you lift your hands in joyful abandon. But when the dark thoughts of doom, despair, anxiety, and fear become your constant companions – even though you’re doing everything you know to do to feel better – trusting God, believing better days are ahead, and retaining hope become epic feats of courage and endurance.

We honor military heroes – rightly so, because they are willing to offer their lives for the good of our country. But there are other heroes, mostly unrecognized and unsung, who get up day after day to face the deafening roar or the toxic whisper of depression that taunts them to give in; to end it all. There are beautiful heroes who refuse to surrender their joy to the voices that never stop reminding them of their brokenness, their perceived failure and unworthiness. These brave men and women have much to teach us about faith and trust and mostly, about HOPE.

So don’t hide your struggle, please. Instead, teach the rest of us how to live courageously even when it doesn’t feel good. We need you!

If you or someone you know is having thoughts suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For additional resources please visit KayWarren.com/Suicide.

Posted by Kay Warren with 4 Comments
4 Comments
Blessy Jose on October 12, 2016 3:11am

Thank you for being vulnerable. Most often, I feel helpless , when I see loved ones struggle with depression. I have learned to pray and surrender my anxious thoughts to Him who knows it all. Are there any resources I can use to provide practical help to people struggling with depression?

rebecca mcgahee on November 17, 2016 10:16pm

Hi, my name is Rebecca. I lost my son to suicide September 29th. I've been posting thoughts and feeling on Facebook because, well, I don't blog. But I have an extreme desire to tell my friends, family, and anyone who will read my post that no matter my pain and disappointment, in my son Colton, or God, He is worthy to be praised! We too struggled in dealing with Colton's mind tormenting him. We begged him to get help but he wouldn't. He felt he could handle it all on his on. I'm not even mentioning all the praying, interceding and anointing with oil that was done on behalf of him! BUT God is still good and He's the giver of all good things and even if I falter which I know I will....I will serve Him and give Him His due honor! In fact I dare say that since this has happened I have sinned more then ever before and yet at the same time felt a closeness to the Lord than ever before. His grace is sufficient this I'm finding out daily.
I would love to meet you some day! My dad is actually Rick's first cousin. Small world right? I've met his dad years ago when he came to Texas to visit his sister, my grandmother, Annie May Warren-Willingham. He even came to hear my husband preach. but like I said that was years ago and we were just babes ourselves. Anyway thank you for your candor and raising awareness. May God continue to bless and keep you!

Ashley Mcintosh on November 18, 2016 9:39pm

Thank you for your words they encourage me my 13 year old was diagnosed with bpd it has been such a struggle some days i'm angry depressed i want to give up i know my father in heaven i spend time in his word
He is the lifter of my head but the struggle is there i feel alone in our struggle i press on i believe i hold on but some days are just so hard depression grips her and at times it grabs ahold of me. Your words are soothing to my soul.

Laura Mercadante on December 9, 2016 2:32pm

Hello Blessy, Kay's website has a page specifically dedicated to resources regarding depression. You can get there from the Menu drop down, select "Mental Health" under "Initiatives" and click "Depression" in the word bubble. Or visit kaywarren.com/depression. Hoping that you find these resources helpful!