Just over three years ago, I heard a message from a well known Christian speaker. I had heard him speak many times and he is for me, one of the most gifted speakers that I have ever heard. Some of his points can be thrilling and challenging and stay in the mind for a long time. On this occasion his message was nothing like any of the other sermons and yet it was perhaps the most memorable. He spoke very honestly about his own battles with depression and even on occasions with feelings of suicide. Many people later told me that they had found his honesty incredibly helpful in their own situations. One phrase has returned to me repeatedly this past year. He said; ‘When considering suicide, it appears that it is a way of just escaping all of the pain but in reality, you simply transfer the pain to those around you’.
I have seen the truth of this earlier this year when conducting the funeral of a man that I had known who had taken his own life. He had no immediate family as such but some of his wider family had really gone out of their way to be there for him. To see their grief was extremely moving.
We have seen it played across our screens in the reactions to the tragic death of Gary Speed. To see well known figures in football weeping at the loss of a friend has been so, so sad, particularly when he had spent time with friends only hours before his death. There was by all accounts, no sign that he was anything but his normal optimistic self and yet to take the course he chose, he must have been inwardly desperate. One of his friends, Robbie Savage, tweeted, “The world has lost a great man in Gary speed I’m devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why ! Why. Why !! I’ll miss him so much x”
There are many things that I could say here, the section of Pilgrims Progress where Christian and Hopeful find themselves locked in Doubting Castle is probably more apt than anything that I could say (link here), but in truth I would just say this; if you are feeling low, depressed or suicidal, please reach out and let someone know. There really is help available.
Let us pray for Gary Speed’s family and friends at this devastating time.