Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Email 9 - 19 April 2007 : About temptations to suicide and a book entitled “Broken Mind”

Dear friends,

Thanks again for your prayers for me. Thank God for His mercies in keeping and strengthening me. I am better generally and able to rest in total between 4 to 6 hours every night. I am still up very early every morning, usually around 4am or 5am, with racing thoughts. Thank God that after my devotion, I have been enabled to share my thoughts with you and some friends via email and also develop my website, which are very therapeutic to me. Thank God that one overseas reader of my website found that my symptoms are similar to that of his young daughter who also suffers from other mental condition. God willing, he may be flying in to Singapore to seek medical and counselling help as the help he tried to source our in his own country have not been effective in helping his dear daughter and her condition was worsening with suicidal tendencies.

Thank God that this Friday morning, I will be able to go to TTSH to be followed-up there by the psychiatrist for my medication purposes. I think the doctor probably need to adjust the dosage of my medications as I seemed to be experiencing still a mini mania episode as I am sleeping lesser than I normally do and waking up with racing thoughts. Thank God that I have some avenues to verbalise my thoughts and cope with this mini episode. Thanks for your kindness and patience in reading my emails. I hope I don’t weary you with them!

Thank God the 3 books I ordered recently have arrived yesterday. I read some partions of a book entitled “Broken Minds” by Steve and Robyn Bloem, and found it very very encouraging, informative and very vivid in describing the suffering of a person with severe clinical depression. I have typed out some excerpts to share on my website under ” 4) Books on Depression a) Broken Minds” :


One part that I like to preproduce here to share with you is the battle of the sufferers to take their own life which is a temptation I often have to fought in a severe depressive episode. I believe other brethren suffering from similar condition struggle with this too. Steve described in a very vivid manner the great temptation that overcomes him and other sufferers and called it “A Sin of the Broken Spirit.” He shared his own distressing experiences and God’s grace in preserving him from suicide. He also provided a list of the strongest reasons he had given to convince himself not to commit suicide. This will be helpful to anyone who is contemplating suicide during a severe clinical depressive episode or those with suicidal thoughts for some reasons. It may be helpful to carers of such sufferer in his attempt to dissuade him from taking his own life and I trust it will be helpful to any pastor or elders in ministering to such a one with a broken spirit.

“A Sin of the Broken Spirit

Looking at the cold statistics, we cannot forget that the numbers refer to real teenagers and young people - individual men and women of all ages - for whom daily existence has become so awful that self-destruction is preferred. Many of these people are married with young dependent children, just as I was when suicide seemed so appealing. So the human cost goes far beyong the people who die. The dying are parents, spouses, siblings, and children. They have coworkers and fellow students and teachers. They play in the park and shop at the mall. When they die by their own hand, they leave a lot of emotional carnage among the living.

The reason so many mentally ill people commit suicide is not that they are uncaring of others or morally bankrupt. They fall prey to a disease that poisons their minds. Their mood is utterly dark and alone, and a shadowy doorway beckons as the only escapte from hell. Suicide has been called a movement away from the pain. Scripture in fact recognizes the unbearable pain that leads to the temptation to suicide. Proverbs 18:14 states, “The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?”

Grace alone answers the question, and it comes in different forms to bear the broken spirit through tribulation. Acccording to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. That is true of all tempations, but we still fail to resist and do yield to sin. The difference with this sin is that, heinous though self-murder by a Christian may be, it is the sin committed by a broken spirit.

It could shock some to read that a young Christian father and husband, ordained to the gospel ministry after graduation from a conservative, Bible-teaching institution, could seriously be tempted to suicide. After entertaining such thoughts, shouldn’t I be disqualified forever from the ministry? If you believe that, then you must in fairness say that no man who has ever broken any of the commandments is qualified. Humans from a broken world are the only sort God calls to lead His church. To be human is to know, and occasionally fall victim to, temptation. Most are not faced with a temptation to take their own lives. My personal struggle with that temptation has been a tough one. By God’s grace, I have never actually attempted suicide, but in the midst of a severe depressive episode, the temptation to do so remains a formidable fiery dart in the Devil’s arsenal.

According to 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to resist. Too often God’s gift of grace in trial and temptation is presented as a grace that alleviates suffering so that the believer can bear it. But it may be that He does not change the struggle but gives strength of mind to bear up under it.

Some counselors do not appreciate the depths of struggle and are quick to condemn. In so doing, they can help Satan push a believer toward suicide. The King James Version offers an apt translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 : “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded…” The Greek here literally means “small souled.” A clinically depressed person does feel, as I sometimes have felt, feebleminded. I think we get the meaning in this verse turned around. We comfort the unruly and save our harshest warnings for the weak.Extracted from pages 56 and 57.

Put on the Armor

We should instead be helping the feebleminded to put on the armor of God so that they can stand against Satan. In the batle against temptation to suicide, the helmet of salvation and the breastplate of righteousness take on particular importance…….Extracted from page 57.


In the person contemplating suicide, the brain has been thrust into a swamp of sadness, where God seems to be either angry or missing. It is hard to fight Satan-stirred emotions when the mind does not seem to work, when the spirit is broken, when all positive feeling is gone.

In such times, God provides others who can come alongside. Pastors on the front line here, for they often are the ones who hear the depressed person’s last call of despair. We’ve already seen that doctors also encounter these cries. Professionals in the field of ministry and medicine need to be familiar with the indicators of suicide. Anyone who is ever in a counseling role needs training in how to talk to someone who is entertaining thoughts of suicide.

But anyone can suddenly find himself or herself in conversation with a suicidal person. If so, some general principles can help:

If someone does bring up such thoughts, encourage the person to talk openly and honestly about them. This person is already thinking about it and may already have a plan.

Any truthful deterrant you can give is appropriate.

Since the person may not consider suicide to really be “murder,” it is wise to gently remind of the sixth commandment….

… A nurse wrote, telling real stories of unsuccessful suicide in which the survivors ended up

seriously disabled. ….

The thoughts and others like them were a potent restraint. Here is a lists of the strongest reasons I have given to convince myself not to commit suicide.
- It is a sin and would bring shame to Christ and His church.
- It would please the Devil and would weaken greatly those who are trying to fight him.
- It would devastate family members and friends, and you may be responsible for them following your example if they come up against intense suffering.
- It may not work, and you could end up severely disabled but still trying to fight depression.
- It is true - our God is a refuge, “and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Ps.
9:10). God, your Father, will deliver you through what you are facing. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:10 that God “delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.”
- Help is available. If you push hard enough, someone can assist you to find the help you need.
- If you are unsaved, you will go to hell. This is not because of the act of suicide but because all who die apart from knowing Christ personally will face an eternity in a far worse situation than depression.
- If you are a Christian, then Jesus Christ is interceding for you before the Father, that your faith will not fail. He shares your afflictions. Psalm 56:8 says, “Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”
- God will keep you until you reach a day when your pain will truly be over. Wait for God’s time for that, not your own. According to Revelation 7:17c, “God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” After going through some awful things, Paul was still able to say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom.
8:18). Extracted from pages 58 to 60.”

Do visit my website when you free to read up more on the excerpts especially on the effect Steve’s illness has on his wife, Robyn and their other family members. If you are able to obtain the book, it will make a very good resource material to help you in your pastoral counselling to God’s suffering children. I highly recommend this book. I have not read the whole book but have found what I read so far very informative. I identify with many of Steve’s struggles but realized now that by God’s mercies I have been spared many pains and sufferings he has gone through.

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragements. May we continue to live for God’s glory.

In the Lord’s mercies,

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