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Opinion: 'Fighting the inner demon of depression and suicide'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media


It was the worst news I could have received on a fine afternoon. Just finishing my morning duties, I was feeling like life couldn't be better… until a phone call came about an incident involving my long-time childhood cousin Fred. He had committed suicide! He had taken his sports car out on the road in a rage of the moment and purposefully smashed it into a cattle truck with an explosion of fire and debris all over the road. He did the unthinkable! He took his own life in the most horrific way. 

Through the numbness I felt at the time, I thought of all the happy times we had together, growing up so close, getting married and having our children all together. But the nagging questions started. "Why?" Why didn't he talk to me or someone? What was the reason? Of course, it’s family and friends that are left to deal with the devastation… his wife, children and friends who now must go through the emotions and grief. Later, we found he did have some issues he was facing (but so do we all). He was also often depressed and more withdrawn than usual. There were signs, but nothing drastic that close ones thought needed counselling or serious help - maybe we all must be more discerning and get into the personal world of those we care for. 

 As I write this our Nation is in a ‘Suicide Tsunami’ - one of the worst in the world. 

Suicide a Significant Problem 

Recently in New Zealand, 685 people took their own lives in one year. Seventy-five per cent of all suicides are men. Rates of suicide among youth, Maori and Pacific Island people have risen dramatically. Maori men are the highest of them all, having risen by 12 per cent - the highest it has ever been. Auckland has had the highest increase in suicides at a 70 per cent increase. New Zealand has the highest death rate for teenagers in the developed world. New Zealand is in the grip of a mental health crisis. 

The numbers are horrifically high, which doesn't include attempts or suicidal tendencies in many others. For instance, three-quarters of young people that are hospitalised for self-harm are females. All these numbers reveal that suicide is a significant issue in New Zealand, and globally. Our Government is pouring $1.9 billion into mental health and addiction programmes over five years; millions into suicide services and other programmes. While the money is helpful, it does not totally prevent the problem. 

This September is designated to Suicide Prevention Awareness and September 10 marks the World Suicide Prevention Day, set aside to reach out to those affected by suicide and connect those individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. 

 Sadly because of the mental anguish and pain many suffer from suicide, people still choose death every day, even though we believe we are here to live and not die. Their lives hold no value to them. Though there is no single cause, at the root of many cases of suicide is a person’s inability to handle pain… be it physical pain, disability, mental anguish, loneliness, failure, relationship breakdown, social abuse and other factors. Hoping to get relief from the ‘Ache in the Soul’ waves of despair wash away their personality, leading globally to thousands a year making the tragic decision to terminate their life. Globally, close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.

With the recent rise of ManUp and Legacy (for women), turning many lives around for the better, we have seen many who overcome their battle against suicide and other destructive behaviours. The insights into their ‘Battle with their Demons’ has given us some valuable observations and tools to help combat this evil problem.

Spiritual Healing for a Spiritual problem 

When your body is sick, you need a doctor. If your teeth play up, you see a dentist. When your soul is hurting, you must get spiritual help! Some cases of depression and suicide are chemical or physical, and it needs to be treated by medical professionals. But most depression and suicide cases fall into the psychological and mental anguish side of things. It's on the inside of the person’s head and soul that aches and hurts. It’s unseen and not discernible to the naked eye but deep inside, a ‘Life and Death’ battle rages. The spiritual side of combating suicide is by-and-large non-existent in most Government programmes. Most often secular institutions don’t see the value of it, but maybe one of the answers to helping prevent suicide is "Spiritual"! 

The Black Dog… Depression 

Depression at a certain level can become a sure pathway to suicide. A person gets to a certain point where you can no longer be yourself. You supress who you are, and you present who you think they want you to be. It becomes a stigma, a social rejection, to want to expose your ‘mental battle’. Many are forced to wear a superficial facade on their faces to make ourselves acceptable to others. While all the time there's an ache in their soul tormenting the person’s real life. This is the reason why many can be shocked at hearing the news of a loved one who has committed suicide. Nobody outwardly saw it coming. 

 A Sure Sign... Self-Abuse 

‘Are you being victimised…by you?’ 

Often one of the first signs of suicidal tendencies is the assaults against oneself. The ‘put downs’ of themselves. Their mental condition changes, it is bleak, and they struggle to retain any positivity about themselves. Once one devalues oneself, it’s far easier to abuse yourself… to think less of you… less care of yourself… eating habits change... conversations change... all sensory systems shut down. Nothing else matters around them. They shut out family and friends as they struggle with their "Inner Demons". Self-Harm has become more prevalent. We abuse ourselves more than we care to think; drug and alcohol abuse, stress, fear, anxiety, negative thinking etc. are all forms of self-abuse which can eventually "run you down". It’s not the years of running, but the "mileage". 

 People just get "worn down by life" and the hose bursts. A check-up from the neck-up for ‘stinking thinking" may save your life. Mental fatigue that burns you out can cause you to shut down and live on the edge of suicidal tendencies. 

Act on signs of self-abuse… they can interrupt a dark pathway someone is going down. 

 Demons in ‘My House’ 

The first sessions in the highly successful ManUp programme start with the topic ‘Demons in my House’. Too many people reading this may quit here and say, ‘not for me’, but I encourage you - please read on, it may be the elusive answer you have been looking for. It certainly has been the answer now to thousands whose lives have come back from the brink of suicide, self-destructive behaviours, and hopelessness of ‘Soul’. 

 In Mark 5:1-20 of the Bible is this astounding true story of a man who was, "Possessed in his Mind with ‘Thoughts’ (Spirits) of Torment, Suicide, Anguish of Soul and Loneliness. He was living in a "Tomb of Hell". It has all the elements of a blockbuster movie! It's notable that he was returned to his "Right Mind" after certain destructive Spirits (Bad Thoughts) that dominated his mental state were completely cleared out. The conversation and encounter was between a "Qualified-Spiritual-Provider" (Jesus in this case) and a "Mentally Unsound Suicidal" individual (The Man from Gadara). 

 What takes place is on another dimension. There are voices in his head that were taking him into destructive behaviour. Thoughts that were dark entities dominating the individual's mental capacities. There is a link between ‘dealing with one’s inner demons’ and ‘a sound mind’ (right mind). When the ‘Spiritual Provider’ brought the person face-to-face with their ‘Demons’, there is the ability to exorcise these troublesome spirits from their life and to see an instant (in some cases) transformation immediately. But with others it can be breaking the mental siege and they are able to recover fully over the duration of the ManUp programme. Spirits, like thoughts are real, unseen, self-determining, can talk and are very powerful. They are invisible but again very real. ‘Unclean Spirits’ (thoughts) can drive a person’s behaviour and life. That’s why certain techniques and practises’ (confidential to ManUp Programme) bring about unbelievably positive results to the recipient.

The man in this story (Mark 5:15) had many demons in his house but went from self-harming, mental anguish to being in his right mind and living a productive positive life back in society. 

 A positive transformational community is vital for those suffering the effects of self-harm and suicidal tendencies; to be reaffirmed about who they are, re-socilaised to live again and to think more highly of themselves. 

We see unconditional love and acceptance as the base line treatment in this process underpinned by an ‘interruption’ to the dark path they are on by a deep spiritual encounter that goes beyond counselling, consultations or courses. We have seen many turned around in their lives of self-destruction to a whole brand-new empowerment to live and live well. As I said before we are here to live… not die. 

 If you need help today, I encourage you to reach out today to ManUp (0800 1MANUP) or Legacy (0800 110 582). We are here to help you!

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