Suicide and Agency

I was out working in the yard, and felt compelled to come in and write this. Nobody reads posts on Saturday nights, but here goes…

Sunset beach When someone we love dies, especially by their own hand, there is a tremendous range of emotion. This spectrum can be represented in a culture, or even in an individual.

Over the past few days I have been watching as the world has discussed suicide, and the spectrum is not only visible, it is in full battle mode. I have read articles and seen interviews on TV and online that showcase how differently people can view a tragedy.

Some decry suicide as the ultimate act of selfishness. Some defend the deceased as a victim of disease. Some say it was a willful choice, while others say it was beyond control. Some would hold the person accountable before God, while others give them a pass.

It is a passionate and volatile discussion. And I think most people get it wrong.

Before I explain myself, let me add that my experience with suicide is very limited. I have never had a friend or family member end their life. My closest encounter was a few months after I was called to be bishop. An inactive young man in my ward killed himself, and I was immediately involved by virtue of my calling. I was with the family as they grieved, and I organized and spoke at the funeral. (My first funeral.)

It was during that difficult preparation that I learned a great deal about this subject none of us ever want to learn about, as well as a usually unspoken realization about what we might understand:

We as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are privy to modern revelation and counsel that gives us a greater understanding of life, death and agency than anyone else. This includes bloggers, TV pundits, guidance counselors, Oprah, or Matt Walsh. That greater understanding is there for us, if we search it out.

We are also privy to the Gift of the Holy Ghost, THE Comforter. No drug, counselor, or self-help book can even touch the power of the Spirit in dealing with crisis.

So here is some of what I learned – focusing mostly on the role of Agency and how it applies to those who end their own lives.

The Apostle M. Russell Ballard delved into this topic in a talk called “Suicide: Something We Know, Some Things We Do Not”. In it, he said:

“I feel that judgment for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. I feel that the Lord also recognizes differences in intent and circumstances. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth. When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.” (italics and bolding added)

The Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said: Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.”

It sounds to me like there is much more to this issue than simply saying someone “made a wrong choice.” Agency is a precious thing, yet we can get to a point where we have lost that gift.

Some reinforcement:

President Boyd K. Packer said, “The battle over man’s God-given agency continues today. Satan and his minions have their lures all around us, hoping that we will falter and take his flies so he can reel us in with counterfeit means. He uses addiction to steal away agency.”  (link)

Elder Robert D. Hales spoke at length about how Agency can be lost, and reclaimed in his talk “To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency.” (link)

I have listed four references where prophets have discussed how Agency can be stolen away through addiction, or lost through behavior, deception, and mental or emotional struggles, and how the Lord might look upon such acts.

So let me ask a couple of questions:

• Is it so hard to accept that when a person ends their life, they are not functioning with their Agency intact? Is there still a choice? Or have they reached a place where that ability is lost to them?

• Is someone who is high on drugs in a mental or emotional place where they have a clear perspective of the choices that lie before them? Or are they “mentally clouded?”

• How about a person who is mired in the darkness of depression? Can they see clearly?

• I can’t even bring myself to use the term “chose to end their life,” because I am not so sure if perception of “choice” was available to them, or not. I do not know!

Elder Ballard said, “I believe the Lord will consider each case separately and judge the circumstances of each individual. I have sincerely sought direction from our Father in Heaven to help me understand the nature of those in these circumstances. And I have come to know, as well as anything else that I know from God, that these people have a place in the kingdom of our Father, and it is not one of darkness or despair, but one where they can receive comfort and experience serenity.”

Those of you have followed me over the years know that I am a black-and-white kind of guy. But this issue gives me pause.

• I cannot in good conscience cast a stone at anyone who has gotten to that place where they take their own life. I have never walked in those shoes – even remotely.

• I cannot call them selfish, or egoist, because I am not in their heads or hearts.

• If I have a choice between justice and mercy on this issue, I will come down hard on the side of mercy.

• If anyone interprets this post as condoning suicide, or painting it as anything other than the tragedy that it is, they simply don’t understand.

Hope exists through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It always exists.

“And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.” (D&C 138:57–59; italics added.)

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  1. I just want to let you know that your post and the thoughts you shared here continue to touch people and have an impact long after that Saturday night you sat down to write them. My brother committed suicide yesterday after a very severe, years-long battle with depression. As I searched the internet for LDS teachings on this topic, I found your post here and as I read it myself and then also shared it with my parents and siblings, your thoughts and the words of church leaders you shared have brought us comfort as we deal with the aftermath of this tragic situation. Thank you for following a prompting that Saturday night several years ago and know that it is still having an impact on people as they deal with this very issue.

    1. Oh Chad. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad you found that post and that it might help you and your family – even the tiniest bit – as you process and seek comfort. My best to you and yours.

  2. Excellent piece! Elder Ballard’s quote fairly well wraps it up. And depression is more insidious than is commonly realized. The time for family and friends to seriously worry is when the victim starts thinking there is no light at the end of tunnel. This is the common thread I’ve found in 20 years of working with such patients. Thank you for this post.

  3. I have had the unfortunate experience of having 2 dear friends take their own lives. It’s been years and years but what comfort this article has given me! I wish I had it 15 years ago!

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration with us!

  4. Nobody reads posts on a Saturday, huh?

    Well…maybe…but if not, they will get around to it on Sunday, Monday..or Wednesday (in my case)…if it is of interest. Obviously this was of interest.

    Mystery Mormon Man (you can use that when you pass middle-age ;p)…even though I do not know you, I know this spirit that I see in you. I appreciate the (many) times that you listen to it. I appreciate what you do.


  5. Thank you for following a prompting to write this. The comments on here are humbling. I read through each one and have come out with a desire to give a huge hug to everyone on here.

  6. Thank you for the compassionate, merciful post. I couldn’t agree more.

    One aspect of suicide that has always tugged at my heart strings is the fact that the deceased, through their deeds, passes one final lesson to their loved ones: suicide is a viable option. They’re saying, in essence, “If things get so bad that you just can’t see a way out, here’s a way.” And it grieves me that the people left behind have to have that poisonous message fester in their minds forever.
    The atonement can help clean that out, but not everyone takes advantage of that cleansing. Some people will think about that choice, that final lesson, and they’ll eventually follow the example they’ve seen. Teaching about the Plan of Salvation is so critical in the time immediately after a suicide, to shore up the testimonies of those closest to the deceased. That festering can put them right back into the same boat as their loved one- possibly unable to “see clearly”.

    Thank you again!

  7. I like black and white. It is comfortable to me.

    The idea that we are the sum of all of our thoughts and deeds rather than we are of one deed minus the rest of our life seems very black and white. I believe we will be judged according to who we become within the bounds of our circumstances and opportunities, not just the final act of our lives.The scriptures are quite clear that our opportunity for truth and knowledge plays a big role in the final judgment.

    The part I am having trouble with is the erasing of agency and accountability because of disease, circumstances, and particularly substance abuse and addiction. I can understand how addiction can lead to despair and suicide. I can also see how it leads to abuse, abandonment, and murder.This is where the black and white all mush together and I feel like I cannot make it out. If we are not choosing to take our own lives in some circumstances, then are we not choosing to abuse and hurt other people under similar circumstances? Maybe that is true. It is good this is left up to God. Maybe when you know and understand all, it still is black and white.

  8. Don’t know if my first post came through or not. Sorry if this is a repeat…

    Very well written. I used to wonder if I was worthy of the Celestial Kingdom because I struggle with a debilitating addiction in my life. But Elder Richard G. Scott’s statement has given me great hope:

    “…the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.” Elder Richard G. Scott, “Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” October 2013 General Conference.

    I thought this was especially applicable to what you said about coming down hard on the side of mercy. Amen to that!

    Another talk from that same General Conference (October 2013) that I think adds to what you’ve said is Jeffery R. Holland’s talk, “Like a Broken Vessel.” He says:

    “Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.”

    With suicide and depression in my family history, I have always worried that my children might someday find themselves contemplating suicide. So from their youngest ages I have counseled them to “Stay and work it out.” That has become our mantra whenever life’s difficulties overwhelm us. Clinging to those five words has helped me get through many hardships in my own life. Unless we are in an abusive situation, it is almost always the right thing to do to stay and work it out.

  9. I have been suicidal, my SIL attempted it, and my BIL killed himself three years ago. You have written it exactly right. Thank you!

  10. Thank you for sharing … I appreciate the sweet spirit of your message. I have two sons who have attempted several times and a couple good friends whose sons took their lives. I only wanted to add that sometimes as a counselor I am touched with the power of the spirit to assist those who are struggling to overcome the desire to end their life and those who are surviving after or family surviving the aftermath. So, although you are correct the Holy Spirit is the comforter we need to forego judgement and pray to support and love those who struggle.
    Praise the Lord for his great gift of the atonement that provides healing.

  11. I read some of the same talks and quotes about five years ago when I knew my son was facing the consequences of his choices and actions. I feared he would not be strong enough to face the consequences and would seek escape. I was terrified. Those words, and those you shared today, gave me peace. It was an answer that seemed ultimately fair and I felt He who will judge knows my boy even better than I. It never came to what I feared it might, but I needed those answers and that peace.

  12. I have no words to express the comfort you have given. I have a daughter who struggles every day, and has multiple attempts and hospitalizations. Two years ago, we nearly lost her — 4 days in intensive care. My goal is to keep her alive. I have come to a knowledge of the atonement that I don’t think I could have gotten any other way. I am so grateful for wonderful friends, in and out of church who care about her and my anguish.

  13. We think alike. I love this post. Where are we ever told to judge in the scriptures, really? Prayer is the best thing we can do for those who take this way out – other than being sensitive to those who may need someone to lean on and talk to. Love is the answer to all ills. Thank you, MMM.

  14. I almost didn’t even read the post when I saw the subject. But I’m glad I did. Very well done brother, very well done. I don’t need to share my story, but I can say this – coming down hard on the side of Mercy is something each and every one of us need to do with each other every.single.day.

  15. My 2 favorite parts of this post: 1) “If I have a choice between justice and mercy on this issue, I will come down hard on the side of mercy.” and 2) Christ is the only one equipped to pass a judgement on those who have committed suicide. This means that I don’t have to make a judgement on this topic, nor am I qualified. I don’t know all of the circumstances nor do I understand depression.

  16. Thank you, I think you were definitely given inspiration with this blog post.

  17. Hi. My husband took his life 32 yrs ago. I was 22 and my children were 4,2,and 3 mo. To this day when I think of those times my heart is sooo sad…. for all of us. Our children, His family and mine. The biggest thing for me was I had never been subjected to such violence. Especially aimed at oneself. Over the years I prayed for him. I am eternally grateful that all of this is in the Lords hands and he knows exactly what should be done. My heart breaks for anyone who has had to go through this terrible time. There are so many questions left unanswered. The only answer that gave me comfort is that the Lord loves me and my family and we get to choose the way we handle the situation. Every event in our lives is the opportunity to turn to our Savior and believe the Love that is always there. Lean on the Lord…. it always helps.

  18. I am sad to admit that up until a few years ago, I probably felt several of the things you mentioned early on in the post. I lived unaware in my ivory tower with no personal experience with anyone (at least that I knew of at the time) who had felt the type of desperation that can lead to such an act. Then I met someone who became a close friend. On the outside he was outgoing, a gifted writer and photographer. An amazing teacher. A person who went out of his way to make people feel included and important. You would never have known to look at him the battles he faced on a regular basis, the fears he had about being good enough. The issues with health that he kept quiet from most people. And while I was aware of a few of the things he had dealt with I could not have known especially in the days and weeks leading up to his death the depth of his sadness and pain. It reminds me of a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who said, “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

    Two years ago this last Monday, my friend lost the battle he had been fighting for so long. When I received the call I was devastated. I wondered if I had called him that day, or sent him an email or a text, would that have made a difference? I remembered all the things I’d heard in the past about suicide – how selfish it was, how it was a choice, how anyone who had committed such an act would never go to heaven. I could not accept those things about my friend. I knew him. I loved him. I could not see how a loving Heavenly Father and Savior would base the entire eternal salvation of my friend on one final desperate act. It seemed unfathomable to me that all the good my friend had done in his life could be wiped away in that tragic instant. I searched and searched for some sort of comfort and understanding. I wanted to know what the leaders of the Church had said about it, not what well-meaning but ill-informed people thought about it. I was so comforted to find several of the articles you mentioned. You cannot know how I clung to those words in the days, weeks, and months that followed.

    This week has not been an easy one as the anniversary of that day came and went. I wondered then, as I wonder now if there is anything I could have done that would have changed the outcome of that awful August day. I cannot say that I will ever know the answer to that question on this side of the veil. I have to believe that my friend has found the hope and the peace that he had lost when he left us. I have to believe that I will see him again and that he will be well and whole and that the trials which plagued him during his life will be a thing of the past.

    You could not have known any of this when you followed the prompting to write and post this tonight. You could not have known how I needed to hear someone remind me again of the tender mercies of a loving Father to ALL his children.

    Thank you for sharing this tonight. I truly needed it

  19. Since I’ve been a member of the church I’ve looked on suicide without simply thinking that it was an unpardonable sin. God is the only one who really knows us, as you said, and the stress on our minds is a disease that can’t be seen by any medical test. But the suicides that make me really concerned are what are referred to as copycat suicides by young people. The peer influence and desire to be noticed is such a strong pull. Maybe we need to address the issue more strongly with our YW/YM.

  20. Exactly the compassion trying to argue it with pure logic fails at. Thank you for seeing with your heart!

  21. Your bullet points are spot on, Brother MMM! I am a psychiatric nurse and have spent the past 4 years working with people immediately post-suicide attempt or those that were interrupted in the attempt. It is an intense and humbling work, one that shows me over and over how very clouded these peoples’ minds are when they reach that point. Upon admission, every one of my patients truly believes that they are worthless and their families will be better off without them.

    I am grateful for my testimony that everyone has divine value and purpose here on the earth. It is a beautiful thing to watch meds kick in and see miserably sick people begin to get a glimmer of reality and feel hope again. By the time they are ready to go home, my patients are recognizing many of the positives that their illness was preventing them from seeing.

    It is very clear to me that anyone suffering from suicidal ideation/depression/anxiety is not choosing this trial. I am so glad we have a Savior and loving Father who understands each of us completely in all our circumstances.

  22. I’ve been in the hospital twice to stop myself from experiencing suicide. I’ve also tried once and been unsuccessful, and just 10 days ago I was in that place again, figured out a method, and then decided to sleep instead. Haven’t really recovered from that, yet. I have a son who has been hospitalized twice, and now is just trying to kill himself slowly with alcohol. I have a daughter who has been hospitalized twice, and hangs on day by day. I once had an LDS doctor who told me that people who experienced suicide walk around heaven saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. I have done enough of that on earth. My daughter’s boyfriend experienced suicide last year. At his service, his pastor basically said that he was a sinner, there was no redemption for him, and that he would rot for eternity. So much for seeking comfort in religion. His mother has not even begun to recover. When I have been in that place where I want to die, all I can think is what a burden I am on my family, how much better off they could be without me dragging them down, and how maybe the physical and emotional pain I feel could stop. Usually when I feel that way, I am blessed to feel so tired that I cannot move, thus keeping me from being able to do anything. I have never allowed guns in the house, because I think that would make it too fast and easy to die. For many years, I had to keep all the meds locked up, so that my sick children could not use them – but then I used them, and was very surprised to wake up the next day, although it took many hours before I could start to talk or move my body. People try to tell me how blessed I am, that I am a child of God, etc. It means nothing to me when I am in that hole. They also try to tell me how I should think and what I should feel. Had to leave sacrament meeting last Sunday, because I could not stop crying after one of those conversations, with a well-meaning sister, in the foyer before the meeting. Went home and slept then, too. after praying that I wouldn’t hurt anybody on the way home, because I was too upset to drive safely. I do know that I would have been dead long ago if I hadn’t joined the church 30 years ago. I also know I would have been dead before now if I hadn’t moved 3000 miles from my abusive husband eight years ago (temple marriage doesn’t mean much if both parties aren’t working on it all the time). I know that this is rambling and weird, but this is a small piece of what a depressed brain looks like. When people die by suicide, most people talk about how they can’t imagine how someone could do that. I totally get it. Makes absolute sense to me. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have nothing but compassion for people who can find no other way but to die.

    1. Jen, I am concerned that you are still too much in that hole. Who are your support people? It sounds to me like you are not in a safe space. Do you still have your hospital’s crisis number? I am glad that you paused after deciding on a method. Now we need to find the next step to keep you safe. Please let me know that you have someone local to talk with.

      1. I have a good LDS former bishop as my counselor. I have all the crisis numbers. I have a closed group on Facebook that I can talk to that got me 80 replies and lots of prayers and offers to talk the week before last. My bishop came to see me! (first time I have had a bishop in my home for over 7 years!). I have a couple of friends, but I don’t talk to people much when I am in the hole – don’t want to bother them, crazy thinking. One daughter lives with me, and another daughter lives across the parking lot from me. I try to stay away from them when I am in the hole, too. Latest bad time was because ALL my supports that keep me housed looked like they were going to disappear instantly. Was able to communicate my concerns, and we have a tentative solution for about 1 1/2 months. Hopefully something more permanent will come along before then. Best I can do for now.

    2. Hi Jen! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. It is my hope and prayer that you will see that you are needed! I see the effects of suicide everyday with my sweet niece and her small children. Their daddy thought they’d be better off without him…how mistaken he was. Your family needs you. Hang in there sweetie and press forward! I hope and pray you will find peace and be comforted! The Atonement is for ALL of us. The Savior knows your struggles. You are NEVER alone or forsaken…I promise! 🙂

  23. I was in college when my brain unleashed every weapon it had against me. There were a lot of bad decisions made (and that I am finally finding peace with knowing that my agency was altered if not taken away altogether). Finally I decided I had to escape. Fortunately, my boyfriend realized something was wrong and called me. It took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, but he managed to talk me down.

    Thank you for your lack of judgement.

  24. I agree 100% with your conclusion that we can’t know the specifics of any individual case. I recently lost a good friend, and through the Spirit received comfort that he was not accountable for the way he left this world, so I know firsthand that such cases exist.

    From my own personal experience, I also know that the other sort exist. At one point, when I was dealing with the worst shocks I hope I’ll ever be dealt in my life, I was presented with a choice, and was in a frame of mind to rationally consider both sides. It’s one of the most profound tests I’ve ever faced, but as tempting as it was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself or face my Father if I ended my life. If someone looking on tried to judge my state of mind and my own accountability for such an act, they could only have learned the truth through personal revelation.

    So no, we can’t judge these cases. All we can do is comfort our fellow grievers to the best of our ability, send our heartfelt prayers out in behalf of all that suffer, and if we get the opportunity, act on the promptings we receive to rescue someone that needs it.

    P.S. I’ve not discussed my experience in anything like a public forum before, but based on the comments I’ve seen here in the past, I expect I don’t have much to worry about.

  25. You nailed it. My brother committed suicide 17 years ago. The first reference you shared brought us much comfort. Thanks to personal revelation I know my brother is fine. I know he is ministering to our family through the veil. I know that our Savior’s atonement covers this and peace can be found. We don’t have all the answers but we do know our Savior understands and balances justice and mercy.

  26. AuntSue
    Thank you, My husband had two cousins, brothers, that took their own lives. Different times in their lives, different circumstances. But both deserved only compassion and love.

  27. My dad committed suicide when I was 17. I made several attempts of my own between the ages of 12 and 29. Somebody who has clinical depression is in an altered state of mind. I work the mentally I’ll now.

    I was going to write on the subject myself, but it hit too close to home. That and I was very upset about some people’s comments.

  28. I hope I am not a nobody because I read your post this Saturday nite. It expresses all I have learned and felt about suicide because the subject is close to home for me. I appreciate the links for I am sure there are times when I will need to read them once again.

  29. As someone who reached a point 39 years ago when death and the unknown seemed vastly preferable to the reality I was then experiencing, I am grateful for the LDS friend who saved my life and shortly thereafter baptized me. I am also grateful for the greater light and knowledge we are given. I have deep compassion for those who fight the urge to die, as well as for those who lose the battle, because I have been there. I have one child who is much beleaguered by the Adversary, and who fights for life multiple times each day. Only Heaven knows how this will play out. I am grateful for the Atonement, which has healed me of depression and PTSD. I am so blessed.

  30. Having had a bout with depression and not even what could be classified as a serious one, I have tremendous sympathy for someone that lives for a time in that deep darkness. I am a very go-getter person and it took everything I had just to get up out of bed in the morning because my kids needed me to support them. Every minute at work was hard to concentrate on the task at hand. This is certainly one trial that I feel I have learned a tremendous amount of empathy for others.

  31. As someone.who has survived a suicide attempt, I can only say it was through God’s grace. I should not have survived, but because of His countless miracles I did. I saw my aunt in an NDE. She had committed suicide. She sent me back with a clear message that suicide was not the answer. At the time of my attempt I was addicted, I was homeless, my family had forsaken me. I felt despair, depression, and utter hopelessness. I can empathize with those who go down this path. I am just ever so grateful to still be here. To have the experiences I have had, and all the blessings (not least my children) that have followed. Thank you for your message MMM.

  32. If you had ever suffered with severe depression, you would know that it is a disease, just as Cancer is. There is a chemical imbalance in your brain that needs to be fixed. When a person suffering with depression reaches the point of suicide- it seems completely rational. It gives them peace. Their brain is clouded and not working the way it should. Bruce R. McConkie in the beginning of that quote defines suicide as a conscious choice. With disregard for the people around you. Its not “suicide” when your brain is not stable. If you have never walked on those shoes, you dont get to make a judgment on someone who has done it.

  33. Saw your post on facebook. So, very very good. In October, it will be 28 years since my mother took her life. I was 19. It was the greatest tragedy of my life. An exclamation point at the end of a sadder than normal childhood. Elder Ballard wrote his article one year after she died. It was a great source of peace to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  34. Unfortunately, due to my previous career, I have been in a position where I have dealt with this topic multiple times. It was especially painful when I was overseeing the YSA in our stake and had to try and answer the questions of a young woman whose fiance had taken this route.

    I admit that as a young man after seeing the devastation that my uncle left on his family, I fully believed that this act was the most selfish that a person could take, and deserved all of the punishment that could be handed out by the Lord. Over the years I have come to realize that very seldom does another person realize the anguish of a soul who is considering this option. there are those who make “attempts” as a means of getting attention, but that is a completely different problem. There are those who honestly can’t see any way out of the darkness and are hoping that the Lord will be merciful…or worse yet, that there is no God and that all will end.

    Having been acquainted with the current center of media attention since my missionary days, it is reiterated to me how difficult it is to see the signs of an anguished soul who puts on a nonchalant face so easily. I think it is important to not only pray for them, but also for ourselves, that we realize that we have priesthood leaders to turn to when life gets to be too much for us.

  35. I liked this post. I’ve had 3 relatives commit suicide already. I deal with depression quite a bit and deal with the “mental cloudiness” that can at times lean dangerously towards suicide. But having the gospel in my life and the knowledge that there is more after this life- that keeps me going even if nothing else does. I wish everyone who struggled with darkness in their mind could have that same knowledge and hope.

  36. I unfortunately have had a bit of experience with this topic. You’ve done a great post here. Elder Ballard’s talk is also a book of the same name. It helped me greatly when my best friend died.

  37. Thank you for the thoughtful words. I have a relative that murdered his wife and then killed himself. I had to pray about/for him several years before I could be anything but repulsed when I even saw his name. Then someone shared his photo with me. When I see it I try to connect with him, praying that my heart will be softened and not be judgmental. I keep thinking the atonement is the atonement, for me and everyone else.

    1. Heartwarming to see there’s people with Christ like attributes like forgiveness and refraining from judgement…also, sorry for ur loss.

  38. Well written and needed to be said. Thank you for shedding some light on a dark subject.

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