In the 1990s British Telecom launched a TV advertisement campaign “It’s Good to talk”. The adverts featured the late actor Bob Hoskins observing a number of phone conversations between family, friends in which he encouraged people to pick up the phone to listen and be there for people because “it’s good to talk”.
Today is World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is suicide prevention. According, to statistics every 40 seconds someone loses his or her life to suicide. In the time it has taken me to write this contemplation that is roughly 90 people.
A big part of my role as priest is to spend time listening to people, spending time hearing their story. However, more recently I have realised how important it is to be able to ask the right questions. It is interesting to note that Jesus asks a lot of questions in Scripture. Jesus’ questions were sometimes rhetorical, or challenging, and at other times he was also seeking feedback.
The story of Blind Bartimaeus is a great example of Jesus asking a life-changing question. We read in Marks Gospel there was a blind beggar sitting at the side of the road, he heard Jesus passing by and shouted out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). The crowds told Bartimaeus to be quiet, but he kept calling out, even more loudly and persistently than before. Jesus responded to Bartimaeus’s cries by telling His disciples to call the blind man over. Blind Bartimaeus jumped up and went to Jesus, and Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).
A life-changing question with a life changing answer as the blind beggar replies “Rabbi, I want to see”. The blind man had a desire, and he ran to Jesus with that desire. He did not preface his petition with a list of good works he had done or with any false humility; he simply expressed to Jesus his desire, trusting that Jesus was both willing and able to fulfill it. Jesus said to him, “Go . . . your faith has healed you,” and Blind Bartimaeus instantly recovered his sight and followed Jesus.
Some of us reading this contemplation may struggle with faith and have difficulty believing in this miraculous story. If you’re local to Christ Church Aughton and want to find out more about faith then there is an invitation to join us on Monday 14th October 7:30 pm for our new Christianity explored course. More details on our Facebook page.
Whether we have faith or not what is clear to see is the power asking the right questions can have in helping someone. So today may we take the time to ask someone we love the question that may enable them to see a bit more clearly. Let’s remember, “It’s good to talk”.
‘WAIT’ is one good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal. It stands for:
Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour
e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide
Ask: “Are you having suicidal thoughts?”
Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation
It will pass – assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time
Talk to others – encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional