When you have depressed loved ones in your life, you want to do something that will make a difference, but the question is what?
Most important of all, do not avoid them. Find ways to show you care, such as, plan a fun activity with them, read to them, exercise with them (walk, jog, swim). Invite them to outside events or even to run errands with you. Because of their tendency to withdraw and isolate, help them get involved in activities – not just as a spectator.… Perhaps, help them find a hobby. Just realise, you may be their only lifeline of hope – and they need to stay “connected.” Do what you wish someone else would do for you if you were the one struggling with depression. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
- • Learn all you can about depression – read books, watch videos, attend seminars. “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 23:12)
- • If suicide is a concern, ask, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself/taking your life?” – they may get mad, but that is ok. “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)
- • Take all threats of suicide and self-injury seriously – about 15 % of those who are depressed ultimately kill themselves. “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters.” (Proverbs 18:4)
- • Be an accountability partner – you can say something like, “I’m with you in this, and I won’t abandon you.” “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
- • Initiate dialogue regularly – frequent phone calls, intentional contact.
- • Listen and hear their pain – listening affirms their value. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
- • Talk about depression – talking helps remove the stigma of depression. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
- • Verbally encourage them – sincerely and often. “Encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- • Realise the power of appropriate touch – a hand on the shoulder and appropriate hugs. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (1 Peter 5:14)
- • Play inspirational praise music to lift their spirits – music is therapeutic. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
- • Bring laughter into their lives – fun cards, videos, movies, and people. “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)
- • Provide “nutritional therapy” – for example, vitamins B-6 and E, calcium, magnesium, and folic acid are helpful for combatting depression. Ask your doctor. “[God made] leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
- • Help them set small, daily goals that require minimum effort – check on their progress regularly. “The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” (Proverbs 13:4)
- • Enlist help from other family and friends – be specific about your concerns. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
- • Get help from professional counsellors, who are trained and known in therapies helping the depressed.
You may ask, “How could a good and loving God allow tragedy like suicide. We may never understand the tragedy that happens when suicidal persons act on their suicidal thoughts, but we can know … “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32–33)