The other day I received an emergency call from a friend who was feeling suicidal. I did my best to communicate with him based on what I knew his problems were and I decided to be very straight with him about the fact that he kept pushing God away because of his misconceptions about God.
Today, my friend messaged me and basically said he has a new, positive outlook on life. I know he is still in need of conversion, but I've sent him a Bible verse and told him to offer his suffering to God for the sake of others (both via text), and he didn't ridicule me for it, so that's a good sign.
I brought this up for this reason: I wanted to share how I came to realize what my distant-from-God, suicidal friend needed to hear from me and see me do. I hope you find the following outline helpful when you face a similar situation:
1) I prayed for him right in front of him at a point when I felt like I had run out of things to say.
2) I told him to stop sabotaging himself with negativity and making the same mistakes. He ended up pausing and then saying, "Tell me how to stop. Please. Because I don't know."
3) I told him that he was rejecting knowing more about God than he'd learned in childhood, or through his personal opinions.
4) I asked him if he believed in hell and the devil (even though he said he did, he still toyed with the idea of heaven or hell not really existing). But I asked him this so that I could point out that the devil was attacking him and that the devil hated God. He admitted that, since the devil hated God, the devil hated man kind as well. Even if my friend didn't fully accept God's true nature in that moment, what's important is that my friend was using logic to realize God might actually care about him.
5) I couldn't dwell on just one thing with my friend. He was always trying to find a way to justify his feelings, so I kept pushing, and I called him out every time i sensed him denying mercy or sabotaging himself.
6) Finally, I got to the point when I asked him, "Don't you want to be happy? Don't you want to be happy after you die?" I asked him this because he kept saying that he wanted to be happy, but never seemed to be abel to get ahead in life. He answered, "Yes." I also said suicide could land him in hell, where he would be unhappy, and that it was a sin to bet on God's mercy in the process of contemplating suicide.
7) After that, I had to switch gears and dig a little deeper, so I asked him, "WHAT do you WANT?" He said "I don't know... What do YOU want?" I said I wanted to go to heaven and I wanted my friends and family to go to heaven. And then he said, "I actually want to make sure my family and friends go to heaven, too." And then I said it was our job, as friends whom God most likely brought together, to get each other into heaven, and he seemed to agree with that.
8) Throughout it all, I kept deflecting his "I have no hope" attitude by making him see that, if he indeed had no hope, he would never have called me. And he was never able to deny that I was right about that. And with that in mind, I was able to get through to him and talk to him long enough for him to get through a really tough few hours.
9) I told him that i wasn't just trying to come up with smart answers to his objections, and he nodded and said, "I know." So I knew he was really taking in everything i said.
So, I told him I would help him clear up some clutter in his life, and after that we ate spaghetti!
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, pray for us!