Dear Salvation Army, Not Another Suicide…

We just recently moved, or more accurately, we were appointed to a new appointment within the Salvation Army.  Every ministry is unique from town to town, city to city…this is no different.  Our ministry here in the new appointment is far different from the last.  The need within abstract poverty is significantly higher.  There is more drug and alcohol problems…and a staggering amount of mental health issues within this community.
depression
Just recently a young adult female in our soup kitchen committed suicide…it hurts me to think that no one was there for her when she needed someone the most.  She was only 22 years old.  She suffered from depression and a slew of other mental health issues.  I wish her story was an isolated incident, but I know it’s not.  I could probably rationalized it all away and say to myself “well she was already troubled” or “She was too far gone to get help and prevent her suicide“…but I won’t do that.  I can’t help but wonder if we missed an opportunity with her.  Are we missing out on a crucial life and death ministry?

I know there are no easy answers and “quick fixes” will not solve deeper issues, but we cannot afford to do nothing.  We cannot ignore this blight of humanity.

Statistics:
Affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.  (Source: adaa.org)

350,000,000 is the number of people globally who are affected by some form of depression.
70% is the The percentage by which women are more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime.
16,000,000 is The estimated number of U.S. adults who had at least one major depressive episode 2012. This made up approximately 6.9 percent of all adults in the country.
50%  is the percentage of Americans with major depression who don’t seek treatment for the mental illness.

(Source: Huffington Post)

povertyQuestions to Ponder Today:
-Can we, as Salvationists, do something to help either directly or indirectly (seeking professional help and counselors who can help)?
-What does ministry that serves those who suffer from mental health issues look like?
-Can we help to prevent suicides of those who come into our doors for help?
-Are there marginalized people in my community who suffer from mental health illnesses that I can help?
-How can we be more sensitive to the needs of those who are suffering with these ailments?

soup
I don’t have all of the answers, in fact, I have more questions than answers…but I know that we can do more.
I don’t want to just be a soup kitchen that feeds the body but does nothing to help the mind find healing.
I know that many mental illnesses are difficult to treat and even cure, but certainly we can do something…
Many displaced individuals who come for food into our soup kitchens are struggling through things like depression, thoughts of suicide, and other deeper mental issues…certainly we can work with professionals to help them.  We can’t not help.  We must help.  We could be the last stop before they consider taking their lives.

Is there a need for a mental health ministry in your corps?
Are you already doing something in your present ministry that you could share with us?
Please respond, please share, and I covet your suggestions and experiences…post them here if you can, we can help each other find workable solutions to this horrific blight on humanity.

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Prayer: Lord help us to have discernment with the people we minister to.  Help us love the unlovable.  Help us to be your witnesses of love to the downtrodden.  Guide us in doing this ministry.  We are your people first and from this flows your mercy and grace.  Guide The Salvation Army as we bring hope into hopeless situations through your power alone.  Guide us dear Lord.  -Amen.

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