Love and peace to you all. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and is a time for us all to be honest about the struggles we face. While I’ve never struggled with suicidal ideation, it’s still a topic that I want to encourage us all to discuss more, if only so we can give encouragement and validation to those who need it.

To this day, I’m still mourning the loss of my former high school classmate Will, who tragically took his life in 2013, just a few months after we’d graduated. Listening to this song from Eurythmics, “Angel”, recently opened up all of those emotions for me. It doesn’t help that Annie Lennox wrote this in honor of her aunt, who took her life at the age of 57.

The music video nails, to a heartrending degree, the anguish felt by both suicide victims and those left behind. Watching the last minute of this video for me is always rough, knowing that Annie Lennox was hardly acting in this moment. Her grief and love for her beloved aunt clearly shown through, as she wailed heavenward in her lament.

I have a great deal of contempt towards the belief that suicide victims are “selfish”. Guys, c’mon. We would never tell victims of any abuse that they’re selfish for wanting to end their torment. Suicide victims are no different. Like all of us who struggle with depression, they’re in a constant, daily battle against themselves, a tormentor who they can never escape.

As “Angel” portrays so powerfully in its music video, yes, the anguish of suicide victims is felt by their loved ones. Does that make them “selfish” though? No, suicide is never the answer. There will always be hope, even in the darkest night. But there’s also no compassion in regarding them with scorn for wanting an end to their pain, a human wish we’ve all carried to varying degrees.

Let us all strive to encourage those suffering in silence a loving reminder that they are valued, and we want their voices to be heard. As others have said, we shouldn’t wait until they’ve taken their own lives before we take action.

I came across these incredibly insightful educational videos on YouTube, from the channel “Psych2Go”, and I highly recommend you all check them out!

Kate’s Story

(Spoiler Warning for the entire plot of Life is Strange)

Oh, Kate. Kate Marsh is one of the most beloved characters from the original Life is Strange game released in 2015. Max Caufield, the protagonist, does what she can to uplift Kate during the first two episodes of the game. In the game, Kate is the victim of constant bullying over a video taken of her drunk and unwittingly under the influence of drugs at a school party.

As Life is Strange is a game of choices, the player has to actively choose how far they go to help Kate. Of course, most players did whatever we could to ease her pain, such as erasing cruel graffiti left near her dorm door, and directly intervening for her.

There’s a hidden dialogue bit that players can listen to using Max’s rewind ability, that drops disturbing hints on the true personality of their teacher, Mr. Jefferson. When Kate goes to him with a plea for help, Max and the player overhear this gaslighting conversation by means of Max’s supernatural gift.

“Knock off this martyr crap!”

“Stop being so brittle.”

“Maybe this is your way of getting attention.”

Mark Jefferson, “Life is Strange”

Folks, I present to you What NOT to Say to Individuals Struggling with Suicidal Ideation 101.

Good golly, he did everything he could to gaslight her, and make light of her depression. What a monster.

I suspect that there have been many silenced voices who gave up, after their pleas for help were met with cold dismissiveness like this. There’s no empathy or compassion in calling potential suicide victims “attention-seekers”. It takes so much bravery for them to admit that they’re in a crisis. May this world learn to take them seriously.

Ugh, and unfortunately, Max/the player can make the wrong dialogue choices with Kate too, when they try to prevent her suicide attempt at the end of episode two. If the player did all they could to be there for Kate beforehand, they’ll have an easier time talking Kate out of it thanks to them earning her trust. Even then, players can still make unwittingly deadly dialogue mistakes, as shown here.

(Trigger/Content Warning: Suicide)

The last thing any person struggling with suicidal thoughts wants to hear is a warning that they’ll get a one-way ticket to Hell for wanting their pain to end. There’s no mercy in this, and it spits on everything God is as our ever-loving Father. Point blank period. Just…don’t.

Feel free to view this segment below, which shows the loving fruits of Max/the player being there for Kate throughout the game beforehand, and choosing with wisdom and compassion what words to offer her.

Imagine the relief we all felt when we succeeded in talking Kate down in the game. Cue the tears!

Ah, I do believe some in-game background is necessary for the final dialogue option in the video above. Max/the player has four familial options to choose from, when they hear Kate mournfully state her belief that nobody truly cares about her. Two choices will save her, and two will doom her. All are dependent on how closely the player investigated the pictures of Kate’s family, and the various letters she received from them when she lets them into her room earlier in the episode.

You see, both her mother and aunt sent her horrifically condescending, vilifying letters condemning Kate for, in their “Christian eyes”, committing willful sins of sexual immorality. This, despite Kate clearly acting out of character in the video, which they chose to ignore. If the player tells Kate that her mother loves her, it nigh-guarantees that Kate will end her own life, believing that her mother thinks she’s bound for Hell.

On the other hand, the player can also read a tenderhearted postcard from Kate’s father, and oh, my heart…

“And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

-John 1:5

Katie, you’ll always be my brightest light against the dark.

hugs n’ love

Pop

Richard Marsh, “Life is Strange”

This is how God sees and speaks to His children struggling against suicidal ideation and depression. No condemnation, no scorn, only deepest compassion and unconditional love. Richard Marsh’s love for his daughter can be one of the things that saves her life if you mention him to Kate.

Max/the player gets to check up on Kate as she gently recovers from her trauma in the town’s hospital. It was such a relief seeing, as a player, just how truly happier this beloved child was!

And for added heartwarming points, when Max tries to fix the entire timeline with her powers, she finds herself back in her classroom, one of the very first scenes in the game. With her newfound knowledge, she can give Kate some incredibly uplifting words.

“Always remember that you’re not alone. I’ve got your back, no matter what happens. So do a lot of other people. We all care, we’re all here for you. You need to know that.”

Max Caufield, “Life is Strange”

Can you feel the raw empathy and compassion behind Max’s words to Kate here? This is what those of us struggling with depression need to hear in our darkest moments. So often we feel alone, but when God and others remind us otherwise, that tenderness can quickly pull us back from the brink of despair.

Remember Your Worth

We humans, in the grand scheme of time, can only see what’s in the present. Especially compared to God, whose eyes will always see beyond our reach. I can attest from personal experience that because we can’t see the future, leaving it unknowable, we can fall into a certain kind of despair. Fear of the future is like drowning, with no hope of making it to the surface. It’s a suffocating feeling, and something that we believed Will suffered from before he made his tragic choice.

When we can, we must let ourselves try to see our lives through God’s eyes. We each have a purpose, put here for a loving reason, as God intended. May this joyful song from The Prince of Egypt remind us all of this truth!

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life
Look at your life through heaven's eyes

8 years after we lost Will, and after coming to terms with the reality that I’ve also dealt with depression for a large part of my life, I think I’ve finally begun to empathically understand what he suffered. When we fight against depression, we fight a taxing war against all of the lies it tries to feed us. It’s not easy, trying to find the superhuman willpower to go to war against our own minds each day. And when our depression lies to us that it will never get better, that there’s no hope in the future, it can be understandably easy to take that lie as truth.

We may struggle with this for the rest of our lives, but we must always remember, like Max begged Kate to remember in the final episode of Life is Strange, that we’re anything but alone. God and so, so many others care about us. I know that it isn’t easy at all to speak and reach out for help. It takes an intense, personal sort of bravery to let ourselves admit that we’re not doing ok. And being vulnerable is terrifying.

But we are beloved, each of us. No lie, no matter how insidiously it tries, can overcome that God-given truth.

Peace be with you, wherever you are. You are not alone, friend.

Please don’t hesitate to call these hotlines if you or somebody you know needs help. And remember always that there’s no weakness in asking for help, only the deepest courage.

(Hotlines taken from this list.)