Why I Live: Depression, Suicide and the Bible

Dealing With Suicide as a Christian

“God” I prayed one afternoon when I was fifteen, “I’m going inside to kill myself. If you love me, stop me.” How did I get to that point? I’m not sure, but there were many enemies that accompanied me along the way- loneliness, depression, fear. Depression, especially, had been with me for a long time. It wasn’t that I didn’t know God. I did. So why was depression weighing on me so heavily? First, I had to find the answers to these questions to get to the reasons why I live.

The Bible, Anxiety and Depression

Recently, I wrote about my struggles with anxiety, and how Bible verses about mental health help me deal with it. I described how being anxious affected my driving and how calming myself with scripture really did help. Although I didn’t sit down and do a scripture search on depression until now, a couple of things in the Bible did jump out at me. If you're a new believer or have never read the Bible, you might be wondering, "What does the Bible say about mental health?" The answer: more than you think. Here are some passages that are really helping me see things differently in my struggles with depression.

Elijah Begs to Die

The story of the prophet Elijah in I Kings 18 and 19, and Psalm 118:17 both really speak to me on this topic. Elijah was so exhausted and afraid after fleeing from the evil Jezebel that depression overtook him and he begged for God to take his life. That’s pretty heavy stuff, but it comforts me to see how God ministered to Elijah’s needs. Instead of beating Elijah over the head for being depressed, God let him rest and sent an ANGEL to bring him food and water! Is that cool or what?

Why I Live

Later in life, at age twenty-two, I would actually make an attempt on my life. During the months after that, when I was desperately trying to find a reason for living, I came across Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (KJV).” That became my new purpose statement, and it has really helped remind me why I’m here. I am here because God is good, even when I don’t feel good. I am here because He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11). I am here because He has a message that He wants to convey, and no one can tell that message quite the way I can. (And no one can share it quite the way you can, either!)

Here Are Some Other Things the Bible Says About Depression:

  • Think positive: Mental Health science is finding that positive thinking is
    important in battling depression. The Bible already knows this secret. Philippians 4:8 tells us to
    think on things that are good, pure, lovely, and, well you get the idea.
  • Self-Talk: I love Psalm 42:11, maybe because King David was talking to himself in this verse and I sometimes talk to myself. It asks, (in my own words) “self, why are you so down today, what’s wrong with you? Look up! Trust in God!” It’s an almost comical reminder that God is still good even when we don’t feel good.
  • God is with us: Both Deuteronomy 31:8 and Isaiah 41:10 remind us not to be afraid or discouraged because God is with us. This may seem daunting in the moment, but stop and think about this: God is holding your hand! He is walking ahead of you, leading the way.
  • God rescues us: Psalm 34:17, Psalm 40:1-3 and Psalm 3:3 tell us that God hears and delivers, gives us a firm place to stand, puts a new song in our mouths, and lifts up our heads and triumph. He protects us. But what about when God doesn’t protect? What about the bad things that happen, the wars and shootings and killer viruses? The Bible answers these questions too.
  • When trouble comes: John 16:33 says that we will have trouble in this world, but to be encouraged, because Jesus has overcome the world. I Peter 4:12-13 says not be surprised when we find ourselves being persecuted or in difficult situations, but to actually respond joyfully to those situations because Jesus is working in us and is being lifted up.
  • He comforts us: Also, God comforts us in these difficult situations. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 actually calls Him the God of all comfort, and says that He, through Jesus Christ, comforts us, so that we can, in turn, comfort others.
  • When we fail: The Bible also acknowledges that we may fail and that may cause depression. In Psalm 37:23-24, we see the words “though he fall.” Even when we fail, He will not leave us in our failure, but will pick us up, dust us off, and put us back on track.
  • Nothing can separate: Finally, the ultimate reason not to be depressed: He’s got us! The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wow!

Back to Younger Me

As I headed inside that day when I was fifteen, I hadn’t gone far when the wet nose of my energetic puppy, Danny-boy, assaulted my senses and his playful bark distracted me from my morbid thoughts. Some people would say it was a coincidence, but I know better. While I wouldn’t suggest putting God to the test like I did that day, He used one of His creatures to minister to me and keep me going one more day. No, it wasn’t the last time the thoughts would plague me, but I’m still here. If you’re struggling like I was, please get help. I did. And on the flip side of depression and suicidal thoughts are the promises of God’s word to those who love Him. Here’s just one of them- “You will show me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

Jessica Seale is a writer and a caregiver from rural Tennessee who wants to encourage others through her blog Beautifully Broken.  It is a place where she shares what she’s learned about brokenness and inspires others to look at it differently.

Finding our identity in Christ keeps us on solid ground. God gives meaning and purpose to life.  A Hope Coach is here to talk about faith and purpose with you. 

If you or a friend need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, for free confidential, 24/7 help. For a list of crisis centers around the world and additional help, please visit the suicide prevention resource page.

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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