Written by David Seah, Singapore
Planning my route to the place where I wanted to kill myself, I cried out to God in utter desperation for the first, and what I thought would be, the last time.
I grew up in a low-income family, with my parents out working most of the time. When they were back home, they often criticized and shouted at me when I made simple mistakes, such as spilling water on the floor, or tripping and falling when out on the street.
As my parents hardly affirmed their love for me, I often felt alone, unloved, and unworthy. Even as I reflect on my childhood years now, all I can remember is how fearful, insecure, and troubled I was.
As a primary school student, I started attending a church with my family, after my parents were handed a flyer inviting them to Sunday service. Yet sitting in for children’s church felt like listening to a history lesson, and the gospel sounded like a fable to my ears.
I couldn’t fathom God’s love because I had never experienced anything close to it, not in my family, school, or even church. I often felt like an outcast, as I couldn’t fit in with the other boys around me. I didn’t know how to talk to them, because I didn’t have anything in common with them: I didn’t have cable TV, I didn’t know anything about the NBA or EPL, and I had never been on an overseas holiday before. I also thought I was stupid and incapable of picking up different sports, such as basketball, soccer, and hockey, so I didn’t know how to play with them either.
To make things worse, I grew up speaking mostly Mandarin Chinese, and didn’t have the confidence or vocabulary to converse with my church mates in English. My parents didn’t allow me to mingle with my classmates after school, so I didn’t have any friends I could talk to, or anyone to confide in.
Sometimes, these feelings of loneliness and rejection seized me so suddenly and vehemently that I would cry at the back of my classroom. I hated myself so much that I wanted to hurt myself, which I did by hitting my head repeatedly on my table and walls in class.
By the time I was just 10, I had already contemplated killing myself many times. I wanted to jump off a building and transcend into another existence upon death, where I could be smart, popular, and loved.
Yet I had an unfounded belief that a Creator was holding my life, and because of this, I should not end my life. I often walked around my school compounds, wondering about the purpose of my life, and searching for any supernatural being who could commune with me, comfort, and care for me.
Somehow, my situation changed when I entered secondary school. I was a skillful basketball player, was adept in playing the clarinet in my school band, and even had a string of girlfriends. As I started becoming more popular and accepted by my peers, I stopped going to church.
However, any satisfaction I derived from these achievements never lasted. I still experienced the same loneliness and rejection when I broke up with each successive girlfriend, and I still felt like a huge failure when I received bad grades in my studies. I continued to ponder about the purpose of my life and my search for a supernatural being, even going so far as to visit a Buddhist temple. But all my searching led me nowhere.
These feelings of loneliness and rejection ebbed and flowed over the years, but they came crashing down on me when I was 17. I was facing multiple family conflicts, ostracization from my polytechnic course mates, and was making no headway with a girl I liked. All these fears and failures so consumed me, that I saw my life as meaningless and unworthy.
So I made a plan to kill myself.
When God Heard My Cry
I intended to skip a lecture, so that I could make my way to my neighborhood, where I would go up to the highest floor of a nearby flat to jump off from.
As I slowly walked to the bus stop, I desperately cried out to the Creator I had believed in, but had never encountered.
“God, if you are real, please appear before me, or send someone to tell me that you are real, now,” I pleaded.
At that exact moment, I felt someone tap me on the back.
I turned back, and was faced with a middle-aged Korean man. He asked me simply, “Are you a Christian?”
I was shocked, and said no.
He replied, “Do you know where you will go when you die?”
I again said no. I was blown away by how this unknown Creator had answered my prayer so promptly that I didn’t even have time to catch my breath.
The man sat me down and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with me. For the very first time, I understood that God loved me so much that He gave His only Son to redeem me from darkness, to die for my sins, to cleanse me from all my unrighteousness, and to give me a new life to live in and with Him, with His love, joy, and peace.
In that moment, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. My heart leapt with joy, and my soul and mind was filled with an unexplainable peace. I went back to class, and later on, returned home, still facing the same troubles—but this time, with a newfound hope in God.
Later on, I found out that this man was from a Christian organization called The Navigators. As he continued to follow up with me and disciple me, I learned how to pray and read the Bible. I grew in my love for the Lord, and gained wisdom to handle every trial and tribulation, by His grace and with His guidance.
God also provided some friends to journey with me through my years in polytechnic, enabled me by His grace to forgive my parents, established within my family peace and harmony, and even blessed me with the ability to graduate from polytechnic, and later on, the National University of Singapore.
A New Life of Hope
Today, 13 years later, I’m no longer hopeless or suicidal, searching for meaning, fulfilment, and love, in places where they can’t be found. All praise to God, for leading and guiding me along these many years since I accepted Jesus. I’m now 30 years old, a university graduate, a husband, and a registered social worker.
I thank God for enabling me in my current vocation to help others who faced similar challenges I did all those years back, whether it’s family conflicts or suicidal thoughts, so that they can look beyond their present hopelessness.
Even though I still face difficulties in life, I no longer think of suicide as the way of escape. Because I know that God is real and He will take care of me, I can turn to my Heavenly Father in prayer and petition, read His Word for His counsel and comfort, and share what I’m going through with His people, such as my wife, brothers-in-Christ, and close colleagues.
One verse that has particularly comforted me over the years is Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then, God was speaking to the people of Israel, who were in a 70-year exile because of the nation’s persistent sin. But God promised to restore them and to give them “a future and a hope”, if they were to turn to Him, call on Him, and seek Him with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
Today, we live in a world that’s still beset with sin, which means we have to confront the consequences of sin in our daily lives—whether this looks like grappling with anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts.
Yet Ephesians 2:4-5 tells us that “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Because of that, regardless of what we might be going through or what scars of pain and hurt we might be carrying from the past, we can be assured of this: When we choose to follow Him, He is always with us and for us, to give us a future and hope in Jesus Christ.
If you’re reading this now and you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, I’d like to encourage you to:
- Call your local suicide prevention hotline;
- Speak to a trusted adult, such as a pastor, teacher, or school counsellor; or
- Go to the nearest hospital A&E, where you can keep yourself safe if your suicidal thoughts are overwhelming you.