I'm not sure if you're asking for solutions or experiences, but I'll share my experience and see where this leads me...
The majority of my life has been held under the grips of a fierce depression. Full blown suicidal tendencies and panic attacks in the midst of this. I've tried twice to committ suicide - once very shortly after I left the dubs at 19 and another just about two years ago.
The first time I didn't succeed because my roommate walked in on me as I was downing a quart of vodka and a handful of sleeping pills. She rushed me to the emergency room that evening. I spent that night (New Years Eve) at the hospital getting my tummy pumped and crying my heart out to the people in little white uniforms. My parents were notified, lived 15 minutes away, and didn't even come see me. My roommate and her husband stayed with me for two more days as I recuperated in the hospital. They also saw to it that I found a counselor and a psychiatrist who could prescribe anti-depressants and provide me talk therapy. If it weren't for Tonya and Daniel Wilson I would probably be dead today.
Two years ago I didn't succeed because just as I was about to down a quart of vodka and a handful of sleeping pills, my phone rang. It was about midnight and my Sunday School teacher was calling to check on me. He said he just had a weird feeling about me not doing well and wanted to let me know he was there to help. I broke down crying and explained what I was about to do. He stayed on his cell phone talking to me until he reached my home by his car. He helped me pack a bag and I stayed with him and his wife for the next two weeks. If it weren't for Neal and Jayne Knighton, I'd probably be dead today.
I believe that suicidal feelings/thoughts is one of the worst things a human can experience. Life problems are difficult no matter what age, time of your life, religious beliefs, sex, or economic status. But when you don't have the mental and emotional facilities to cope with those life problems they can overwhelm anyone. Kenny2 said it wonderfully earlier:
I was told that suicidal feelings are the result of ones pain exceeding their coping abilities. So the answer is to either reduce the pain or escalate the ability to cope.I also believe that these coping abilities are skills. They are things that can be taught. Unfortunately, because history shows us that JW's are typically at a lower emotional maturity level than most people, which means they probably have not been taught these coping skills. That's why I think suicide rates are higher with JW's than most. Their version of coping is "wait on Jehovah". Now don't get me wrong...I believe patience and time (or Jehovah) can be a healing friend, but that doesn't help a person in the throes of anguish. It doesn't help right at that moment. What can? A hug. A friend willing to listen. A friend willing to just be there and watch tv with. Medication. Professional therapy. An email from someone concerned. A poem. A scripture. Someone praying with and for me.
My experience is that most people who are threatening suicide don't really want to die. They just want their pain to go away and they don't know how to do it.
My depression and suicidal thoughts have pretty much disappeared in the last two years. Why? I think for several reasons:
1. I allowed myself to be helped by others. Friends, counselors, God, parental figures...anyone who would voice their thoughts about my value to them. I began to realize how much I would hurt them if I took my life. Do I believe I would hurt God if I took my life. Absolutely! He would cry like nobody else on this earth. I don't doubt it. He understands my pain better than anybody else on this earth. He comforted me when I let Him.
2. I changed my thinking patterns. I was strict and yet gentle on myself. I would picture myself as a friend. Would I let myself say negative things to a friend of mine? No. Why am I doing it to myself? I started thinking positively. I started focusing on the blessings in my life. I started surrounding myself with positive people. When someone had a negative or hurtful personality I stayed away from them. I did this until I got stronger emotionally.
3. I stopped eating wheat products. Sometimes depression is a manifestation of a physical issue. With me it was a reaction to wheat gluten. I have a sensitivity to wheat gluten that does not mix well with my chemical balance. Anytime I get depressed or suicidal now it is very typically because I've eaten something I knew I shouldn't have. This is a hereditary issue...my bi-ploar father has it as well, but he doesn't stick to his diet. As a result he is an angry, bitter, rageful man.
It never really helped me when someone told me to "pull my socks up". That usually got me more depressed. I know that strategy works well for others though. I think the key is to remember that depression grips people differently. The answer to solving depression is going to be different for different people. I personally try to be gentle and encouraging as I know that works best for me.
These are just a few thoughts. I'm sure I'll add more later, but I have to run now.
Celtic, thanks for letting me think out loud like this. It's healing to me to type it you know!