Prayer for those suffering from depression and who are contemplating suicide.
At its worst, depression can lead to someone wanting to commit suicide. In 2019 there were over 700,000 estimated suicide deaths worldwide(1). Since then, the world has experienced more distressing circumstances through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as worsening economic conditions and an increase in displaced people due to various reasons. These, as well as other coinciding conditions, have most likely led to the increase in the global suicide rate we have seen in the last few years.
The tragedy is that many people contemplating suicide suffer in silence. They often do not have anyone to talk to and think that no one understands what is happening to them. Mental health has been stigmatised to the extent that people are ashamed to talk about depression and anxiety, let alone talking about contemplating suicide.
Anyone within a population can be vulnerable to depression and suicide, however, there are two groups that can be considered particularly at risk.
The Elderly are most vulnerable to depression because of their living conditions, poor physical health or lack of access to family support or proper medical care. Loneliness can cause feelings of isolation, and it affects their mental health. Those with an already failing mental health, may struggle to understand why their families no longer visit them. Some elderly have no choice but to be taken care of in frail care institutions, and when they experience abuse, it might trigger their feelings of depression and anxiety as well. Depression can also develop because of cumulative impacts of earlier life experiences and specific factors related to aging.
Another highly vulnerable group is teenagers and students. Mood changes, loss of interest, and a decrease in school/work are common symptoms among teenagers as well as isolation because of social rejection and feelings of loneliness. They often feel disconnected from their peers and support systems and can become even more vulnerable to seeking to numb their conscience and pain through substance use. Learners in their final year at school can be particularly vulnerable as they consider their prospects for the future.
Teenage suicides have multiple causes including alcohol and drug abuse, unresolved family issues, loss of family members, bullying, being slighted by friends, previous attempts at suicide, feelings of hopelessness and desperation, feelings of worthlessness and no hope for the future, and surprisingly, the availability of firearms in the house (www.sadag.org).
Other spheres of society definitely face their share of anxiety, depression and a tendency to commit suicide as well.
Pray for those who are suffering
Pray for young people (especially grade 12’s), elderly people and others who, due to various circumstances, may suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.
1. Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of and lead you to reach out those around you who may suffer from loneliness, depression and anxiety. Do not assume that someone is fine by their outward appearance. Ask them about their lives and come alongside them in prayer and even practical help. Remember that people who suffer from depression, will isolate themselves and even try to avoid people who want to help them. Prayerfully persist in supporting them and completely rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.
2. Psalm 94:17-19 – Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.
If you are not living close to someone you know are alone, contact or phone them regularly. Pray that God will reveal Himself to them and show them a way out of their circumstances. Ask them how to practically help and support them. Encourage them to spend time with you in reading or listening to the Bible or some biblical teaching. We are often impatient with people who are suffering from mental health issues, not knowing that our attitudes are adding to their suffering.
3. Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is a message of hope. The hope is because of the Person of Jesus Christ. Find out whether the person you are praying for knows Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Invite them to study teachings about the life and work of Jesus Christ, and pray for the Holy Spirit to encourage and help them grow in hope and faith.
4. Philippians 4:12-14 – I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
The Church has become very inwardly focused, not always spotting the needs of others or willing to offer real fellowship and friendship. Pray for Christians to reach out and befriend lonely people, and also to consider and invite them to join their families, especially when their own families live far away.
5. James 5:16 – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Pray specifically for teenagers, Grade 12’s and other young people, that God will protect them and make family members, teachers and friends aware of their suffering. Pray that they will first turn to God for help and will also seek help from their pastor or other fellow believers. Pray that they will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit ensuring them that they are not alone, and that God is more than willing and able to rescue them from depression, anxiety and suicide.
Prayer if you are depressed
Psalms 40:1-3 – I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.
Pray: Father God, I have come to the end of myself, I have nothing left, and I turn to You to save me. I believe Your only Son, Jesus Christ, died for me to pay for my sins and to reconcile me with You as my Father. Help me, forgive my sins, fill me with your Holy Spirit, heal me and restore me. Help me to have a relationship with You and to walk with You for the rest of my life. Amen.
You are not alone. God loves you. He demonstrated His love for you through Jesus Christ.
If you know of someone who is struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts, you can give them the following details for help:
- Telefriend: https://www.telefriend.org.za/
- Contact a local congregation for help
1) World Health Organization 2023 data.who.int, Suicide mortality rate (per 100 000 population) [Indicator]. https://data.who.int/indicators/i/16BBF41 (Accessed on 17 October 2023)