Last week, a friend told me that he didn’t believe that a young person can be suicidal in this day and age until he had an encounter with someone that made him realise otherwise. With the burden I have had in my heart regarding depression and young people and almost on a daily basis talking to young people struggling with one form of emotional/mental issue or the other, the simple thing I could do was to start a conversation on mental health and to emphasize the importance of professional counselling and therapy in dealing with life issues.

I put up a status on my WhatsApp story asking people what they will do (in addition to prayer) if their friend was depressed and/or suicidal. People’s response ranged from advising their friend to seek professional counselling, reminding their friend of all the good things going on in their lives to doing all the good things their friend loves.

This morning, I heard that a corps member who should be rounding up next month committed suicide. I didn’t want to ask of the circumstances that could have influenced his death because my heart is usually not strong enough to handle these things these days. But, I do know that depression is one of the major courses of suicide.

So, I ask you if your friend was suicidal/depressed, will you know. Apart from prayers what will you do to help?

I am so thankful for the work people like Mind Happy is doing in raising awareness about mental health and teaching emotional intelligence.

It is very important that we have each other’s back and pay attention to our mental health. If your friend has recently gone through a life changing situation, do not underestimate how much this situation would have affected them even when they put up happy pictures and nice post on Instagram. Sometimes, people do not even know how much a life event has affected them because they are running away from what is going on inside of them.

If your friend hints that something is wrong or they are struggling with something, do not brush it aside because they never bring it up again.

The nice things you say about people when they die or the way we celebrate their achievements, let us say it to them even more when they are alive. A word of affirmation, support and encouragement can go a long way. Some people are never aware of the impact of their work or the progress they are making, because people around them pick on their flaws more than they celebrate them. Let us intentionally make people know that they are visible and important.

If your friend is really struggling with mental health issue, I am a huge advocate for professional counselling. Counseling provided by people qualified to do so can go a long way to help you heal from whatever maybe pulling you down.

The people God placed around us are some of our greatest assets. We should really learn to engage with the community that God has placed us in by reaching out to them for prayers and having honest vulnerable conversation with people we can trust.

Finally, my friend Gian-Angelo said something that really impacted me which I am going to paraphrase a bit.
He said, ‘’I believe we can all be of support to people around us, because we have the Holyspirit in us. Some people are really far gone and will need therapy and counseling but in most cases, people just need reassurance about the love of God and you or me just being around them.’’ So, as Christians with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we should never take for granted how our presence and words can really impact the people around us.

Let us also be kind with our words. Even when we correct or criticize someone’s actions, it should come from a place of love and with the intention to not only tear down what is wrong, but to build up what is right.

I pray that God will place us in a healthy community and surround us with godly friends that can really support us. I also pray that we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus(Philippians 4:7). Amen