If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24 hours a day at 988.

While not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the day I was ready to end my life, it is especially significant in September, during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

When I was 21 years old, my greatest fear wasn’t dying; it was living.

There is an incorrect stereotype of someone who will commit suicide — weak, irrational, ill, uneducated, impoverished. I fit none of these.

I came from a suburban, middle-class, Christian family. From the outside, no one would have guessed I would be at risk, but suicide is a pandemic that affects the young and old, rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian. No one is immune.

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I found myself depressed and unemployed. After losing my car, my job and my girlfriend, I felt hopeless. All I could see in my life was failure. I hated the man I saw in the mirror so much that I began to scream at my own reflection. Like many, I turned to substance abuse as a means of escaping. 

It was a painful season during which it appeared more unreasonable to just exist than it did to die. I contemplated the actions for months before one day, desperate for a way out, I found myself crouched on the couch, my white-knuckled hand holding a pistol.

Call it luck or divine intervention, but at that moment I heard the sound of gravel crunching under car tires in the driveway, which caused me to put my gun down and look out the window. To my surprise, it was my roommate arriving home early from work.

I later came to find out his dad decided to reward him for working so hard and gave him the remainder of the day off — something that had never been done before. I thought to myself that either this was the biggest coincidence of my life or there just may be a God. To this day, I believe it was the latter.

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While this unexpected arrival of my roommate is what initially saved my life, many individuals are not so lucky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, suicide claimed the lives of 45,900 Americans in 2020, making it the 12th-leading cause of death in the United States. 

I have come so far since that dreadful day, and as I think back on what could have been, I can’t help but think of all I would have missed out on had I gone through with that deadly deed — my beautiful wife, my three wonderful children, my life-giving career as a full-time evangelist and the many blessings I have since experienced.

This is not to say my life is perfect. It is far from it. I have experienced many highs and lows, yet I now know life is worth living.

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When in the throes of depression and suicidal thoughts, one doesn’t realize suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting any worse; it eliminates the chances of life getting any better.

For someone in this situation, hope can never be stressed or repeated too much. It is what every troubled person is looking for. 

I can almost guarantee there is someone in your life who has considered ending his or her life. You might not know it by looking at their social media accounts. You might not even know it from surface-level conversations, but I guarantee there are signs that if you look close enough, you will see.

Like me, perhaps all they need is someone to interrupt their day with a phone call, text or unexpected visit to know that someone in their life cares. 

Jay Lowder is founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and author of “Midnight in Aisle 7.”

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 988.

Crisis hotlines

  • Utah County Crisis Line: 801-691-5433.
  • Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000.
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988.
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386.

Online resources