Surviving Suicide


September is National Suicide Prevention month. Thinking my life experiences have made me somewhat of an expert in that area, I was asked to address the subject of suicide. I agreed, but not because I am an expert in the prevention of suicide.  After all, if I were an expert in preventing suicide, I wouldn’t have this story to tell. 

What I am ever so slowly becoming an expert in is knowing that the love of my God is more than enough to sustain me even through the two darkest events of my life. I buried my 39 year old husband of 18 years on July 7, 1988 and my 32 year old youngest son on December 27, 2007 — both as a result of their suicides almost twenty years apart.  

But God was faithful.

In 1988 I knew almost nothing about suicide and even less about depression and the lack of self worth that could lead to it. My husband, Scott, had a job he did well, so when he was asked to travel to Tennessee to help with the development of a new plant, I thought it was a good thing. What I couldn’t have known was that the delayed opening of the new facility, due to many different setbacks and corporate decisions, would cause my insecure husband to assume he was the cause. That wrong thinking set in motion a series of events that would end with him taking his own life.

But God was faithful.

Suddenly at 37 years old I was now a disabled widow with two teenage sons to raise. 

Wait…what, God? How, God? And, God, why? 


I didn't know the answers to my questions, but God did. He had a plan for us and through it we slowly began to live again. He sent the right person for every situation that we faced. He brought godly men to mentor the boys. He sent a friend who knew how to help me budget the finances. We all went to a Christian counselor to help us cope with our loss. We prioritized the chores like deciding the boys could mow, I could water, and the flowers would fend for themselves. 

God's Spirit was constantly nudging me toward a solution as each situation came up. My options were I could give up and give in to the grief, or I could trust and follow His lead in everything. It was and is hard, but I choose to follow Him. 

My brother came to visit not long after Scott died. He asked me what I would do now? I answered, “The only thing I know to do is trust God.” Thirty years after that conversation my brother told me that my answer had made him so jealous of my faith. He wanted to know God that way but didn’t know how. As a result, he did come to faith in Jesus Christ and is truly a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). If he had known how very fragile my faith was back then I wonder if the outcome would have been different.

But God was faithful.

The boys grew up, finished school, found careers, got married and the oldest gave me two grandsons. Truly I was blessed (Proverbs 17:6). Gabe, my oldest, went to work for UPS and still works for them today. Aaron became a high school English teacher, his life long ambition. Life was good again. 


I am convinced the enemy of our souls will never give up trying to destroy us (John 10:10a). The events in 2006 would prove that verse true. The weapon of choice this time would be false accusations against my youngest son. Lies meant to destroy the reputation of another student instead landed on Aaron, the teacher, and ended up destroying his career, his marriage, and ultimately his life.  Lies unsubstantiated, words unproven, and rumors rampant were too much to bear and Satan convinced Aaron there was only one way to end them. The knock on my door came late on a Thursday night one week before Christmas. He had suffered the injustice of it all for a year and a half and had wanted only to end the pain. 

For myself, this time around I did feel that the weight of my grief might swallow me completely and there would never be any joy in my life again.

But God was faithful. 

After a year and a half of hard grieving, God revealed to me that I was holding onto a lot of unforgiveness. I was stuck in anger and wasn’t interested in forgiving anyone who I thought was implicated in my son’s suicide. Why hadn’t his friends stopped him? Why hadn’t God stopped him? So began a hard lesson on forgiving others so I could eventually move out of anger and into the life of joy He had planned for me. 

GOD so lovingly showed me the principle that says if I don’t forgive others He can’t forgive me (Matthew 6:14-15). And He helped me understand that if I’d make a choice to forgive, then I could choose to live in His joy again. 

In Galatians 5:22 is a list of the fruit (or characteristics) we are given when His Spirit comes to live in us. One of them is joy. His joy never left me; it was just buried under all that anger and unforgiveness I was holding onto. When I was finally able to make the choice of my own will and by the power of His Spirit in me, I chose to forgive so that I could live in joy again. And so, today I choose joy!  Proving that with God, you can not only survive the loss of someone to suicide, but you can actually live and experience His joy again.

If you think someone you know is struggling with depression and might be considering suicide, please check out this previous blog post.

If you are struggling with depression, please call 1-800-273-TALK  24/7.  Don’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary situation.


Meet the author!

Debbie Jourden is a follower of Christ, Mom to Gabe, Mother-in-law to Lisa, and Grandma to Chris and Caleb. She facilitates a ladies sunday morning Bible Study, a sunday night small group, and a Celebrate Recovery Friday night small group. Debbie runs two small businesses from home in her power wheelchair. A student of prayer who learned to really pray and trust in grief after the suicide loss of husband and youngest son…she is still learning.