On September 10th, millions of hashtags like #suicideprevention and #yourlifematters flowed through fiber and satellite to let people who struggle with mental illness know they are seen. It was national suicide prevention day.
But that’s not all it was, at least for one young wife and her two beautiful boys in California, it was a day of mourning.
I’m still shaking off the heaviness I felt after hearing that Jarrid Wilson (husband, father, author, mental health advocate, and pastor) had taken his own life. I barely knew Jarrid, but on September 5th, he sent me a DM (Direct Message) on Twitter.
He included some information I could use to advocate for Anthem of Hope, a non-profit organization he co-founded to support others facing depression and anxiety.
At 9:58am on September 10th, I posted about Anthem of Hope. By noon, I saw the news that the night before, Jarrid took his life in suicide.
I opened my DMs, and his message sat at the top of my inbox. I kept staring at it, lost in what it was speaking to me about his life, which looked so perfect from the outside. I ached over a home that would forever feel the void of a tragic disappearing act. I cried for Jarrid and for his family as if I know them. But I don’t.
I hear people say that talking about depression and anxiety will make it better. And I believe wholeheartedly it’s the first step to healing. But Jarrid talked about it openly, so often, and it didn’t make him okay. That’s hard to face.
I’ve been there
The first time I experienced serious depression was in the wake of the four months Sarah and I spent in the hospital with our son, Bowen. He was born with a severe congenital heart disease.
I certainly don’t have all the answers on mental health, depression, and anxiety. Which is one reason I’ve been on anxiety medication for years. It’s hard to understand why someone can’t snap out of it until you’ve been there.
The stigmas that still cloud this issue are why I don’t really talk about it much publicly. Yes, I know God can heal. I also know He can use doctors to help and community to comfort. But as it is with life on this earth, it’s complicated. Yet faith allows us to press into what loss can help us gain in light of eternity.
This is what else I know. The life of Jarrid Wilson mattered. It mattered so very much. I grieve for him and the loved ones he left behind. The great joys and the accomplishments of Jarrid’s life will be celebrated, as they should be.
But this tragic end of suicide reminds us that it’s time.
It’s time to wrestle with our faith through hard places and be OK with not getting all the answers we are fighting to get.
It’s time to take a proactive posture, one of empathy and encouragement, toward those struggling with anxiety and depression.
It’s time to kick lousy stigmas surrounding mental health out of our churches and communities, and provide safe places for people to be fully known. To create spaces where they can receive truth in the context of love, not shame.
It’s time to remember that even Jesus, who was without sin, wept as he suffered loneliness and despair.
Copyright © 2019 Matt Hammitt. All rights reserved.
Matt Hammitt is Grammy nominated musical artist, speaker, and author. His book Lead Me: Finding Courage to Fight for Your Marriage, Children and Faith, releases February 2020. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @matthammitt. And online at Matthammitt.com.