- (Photo: Jay Lowder)
Evangelist Jay Lowder struggled with suicidal tendencies while in his twenties that led him to put a gun to his head, finger hooked into the trigger. He would not be alive today had his roommate not unexpectedly walked through the door. Today, the leader of a Christian outreach ministry offers hope to those dealing with suicidal thoughts.
"One of the most effective preventatives for those struggling with thoughts of self-violence is the ability to connect with others who have escaped," Lowder told The Christian Post in a recent interview. "For many, hearing how my faith and relationship with Christ has healed my past struggles has provided them with courage and hope for their own personal change. Hurting people have to have the ear of those who can identify with their pain."
Lowder has been a full-time evangelist for more than 20 years. Founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries, he has participated in hundreds of community-wide events, rallies and conferences around the world. He has appeared on various national radio and TV shows in the past, and is also author of Midnight in Aisle 7.
Next week, CP will publish his full testimony about his suicide attempt. Below is Lowder's interview on his reaction to the suicide of Robin Williams and answers to related questions.
CP: Describe how you felt upon hearing about the suicide death of Robin Williams. What have your thoughts been since?
Lowder: Frustrated, angry, sickened to see such a talent go to waste and curious what his relationship was to Jesus. I asked myself questions like: Why? Was he ready for the next life? What was going on underneath the surface that caused the eruption?
Since [his death] I've asked, "What lessons can be learned? How can I play a role in helping others cope?" And I'm reevaluating my responsibility to leverage my experience to prevent others from the same fate.
CP: You have given your testimony in regards to your own suicide attempt during college to The Christian Post. How are you able to use your story to help others?
Lowder: I speak in churches, schools, prisons, businessmen, athletes [NFL players], and to people who have made attempts or are contemplating suicide as well as surviving family members. One of the most effective preventatives for those struggling with thoughts of self-violence is the ability to connect with others who have escaped. Our ministry capitalizes on meeting this need through social media, blogs, articles, interviews, addressing homeless shelters, rehab clinics and any other means by which we can interact and be accessible to those in danger.
For many, hearing how my faith and relationship with Christ has healed my past struggles has provided them with courage and hope for their own personal change. Hurting people have to have the ear of those who can identify with their pain.
CP: What are the main points you cover about suicide when talking to others? In terms of prevention? Aftermath?
(Note: Lowder gave these points in his answers by email)
Recognizing warning signs
1. Depression/unusual mood swings
2. Uncharacteristic aggression
3. Sudden use or misuse of drugs, alcohol or prescription meds.
4. Withdrawal/isolation from family friends.
5. Threats – verbal or physical.
Verbal: "I wish I wasn't born," "I don't think I want to continue living," "I wish I wasn't alive." Physical: Cutting [common among teens]
6. A person who has been through a recent tragedy or loss.
Myths about suicide
Myth: Talking about suicide should be avoided because it puts ideas in someone's head.
Reality: Communication brings healing.
Myth: People who discuss suicide are unlikely to commit it.
Reality: Research shows the majority who did so previously discussed.
Myth: Suicide only happens to certain groups like teens or terminal patients wanting to avoid prolonged pain.
Reality: Suicide can happen to any people groups.
Myth: Suicides usually happen without indicators.
Reality: There are almost always some subtle warnings through word or deed.
Myth: People who have attempted suicide and overcome their problems are unlikely to repeat and are most likely out of danger.
Reality: For many who end their life, it was NOT the first attempt.
Aftermath can and should include counseling, network of praying friends, a confidant who promises to be accessible any time day or night, finding a strong support base like family, church. Giving oneself time to grieve before trying to plug back into life.
CP: It seems like suicide and thoughts of suicide for a person are such intense spiritual battles. Can you give us your thoughts is this area?
Lowder: Jesus was very clear about darkness (evil) and light (himself). They are in opposition to each other and cannot coexist. One or the other will rule and reign in a person's life. You cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). One must be extremely cautious about their intake of wordly, un-Christ-like advice or influences. Jesus said the "thief/Satan" (John 10:10) comes to kill, steal and destroy. His greatest aim is to murder one's present and future. Satan recognizes the destruction suicide brings to entire families and communities and the detractive ideas it can plant in those left behind. This is why it becomes extremely important for those with thoughts of self-violence to pursue counsel and prayer from those who can be spiritual mentors and equippers.
CP: What would you like to add most to the nation's discussion on suicide in light of Robin William's death?
Lowder: It's important to learn how to recognize those in the danger zone and how to help them overcome those tendencies. Success and anything else outside a relationship with Christ does not bring completion or satisfaction. Remember the destruction and pain to those left behind. There is a need to be prepared for the next life.
On the Web: http://www.jaylowder.com/.