It began in passing. I had dropped in to see a friend who was attending a performance, and the musician on stage began to play his guitar and sing. The melody was catchy, but the words cut to the core, speaking of leaving family, friends, life, problems, and pain behind... and encouraging onlookers to not judge for what they couldn't see. The words drew tears for me, thinking about people I knew and memories of my own life... I looked around at the audience members and wondered how many of them really understood what he was singing about - how many really understood how fragile life can be, even in someone who seems to have everything put together? Did they really understand? The performance met with rousing applause, when I would have given silence instead. That was my answer. And that began the first of my recent recollections on life and death.

It happened again in music, again a song I hadn't heard before, sung by an acquaintance onstage. And again the lyrics echoed pain and sorrow, suffering and frustration. She belted it, and inside I realized that, to her, the song was just a song. Music with a catchy beat and rhyming words, not a glimpse into the reality that stalks people who stand by us today and may not tomorrow.

The topic showed up in the news, was mentioned in conversations, and became a sudden centerpiece for discussions as people talked with me. It's not something I almost ever talk about... but it came up, over, and over, and over again. And so it's my topic now... and hopefully it will help someone here.

I used to want to die. For years I wanted to die. I felt alone, outcast, depressed, isolated, different, friendless, worthless, cursed, evil... and I felt like I had nothing good to offer the world. I believed, honestly, that while some people might have cared about me, they would truly be better off without me in their lives. They only cared because they cared about everyone... or because they had to... and if they really knew the true me, complete with sin and addiction and imperfections, even they would turn away.

Taking my own life was never an option, because I knew that it was wrong, it would devastate my family, and it would have eternal consequences (I think that was one of the most vital things I learned in Primary - suicide is a major sin that will keep you from salvation. That knowledge kept me alive. Really.). So I would curl up in a ball and cry and pray that somehow I wouldn't have to wake up in the morning and face the world again. I spent many nights simply crying for that... but it obviously never happened.

No one knew. Not my parents, or the people at school, or the people at Church, or even the people who tried to be closest to me. On the outside, I was perfect. Perfect in everything, happy, a shining example of whatever it was you needed an example for. But inside I was a wreck.

The only solace I ever found was in my personal relationship with God... but even that took time to develop, time to encourage, time to truly understand. Late at night, when the world was falling in on me and nothing could lift my hopes, I learned to turn to God and pour out my tears to Him... and He listened.

The Lord never came to me in person to dry my tears. He didn't send angels from Heaven. But every time I turned to Him and asked to know if He loved me, He found a way to tell me that He did. Sometimes it was in the wind, sometimes in the rain. Sometimes in the sun, or the clouds, or the scriptures, or a talk in Church or a message from someone in my life. No matter what has happened, I have always known that God loves me... and, for me, that makes living my life worthwhile. God loves me. He created me, and gave me everything I can't control to learn to be happy and grow to become the man He sees in me. And with Him at my side, I can do anything.

Today, suicide is still not an option. But it tugs at the back of my mind when days are dark and I wonder if I'm doing anything worthwhile, or if I'm ruining the Plan Father has for me.

To all of you who understand - who have felt pain and sorrow so intense that it seems better to give up - I share my love... and I say that you are important in the eyes of God and the eyes of the people in your life. You're important because once you smiled at the bus driver and it helped him to have a better day. You're important because you live by morals that others watch, silently and in the shadows, and because your example inspires them to change the world. You're important because people care about you, pray for you, think about you, and want you to be a greater part of their lives. And you're important because you have a story and a gift that only you have - a place in God's Plan to save His children and bring them happiness that no one else can ever fill... and that comes from your life, your struggles, your faith, your falterings, and your relationship with God. You are amazing, and you are a literal spirit child of the God of the Universe. He did not send you here to fail... which means that, no matter what has happened, He stands at your side, ready to help you move forward and find the hope and peace and happiness you need.

Hope is shining brightly on a cold November night
The moon is gone, the stars are dark, and yet there still is light
Because beneath the wind and through my pain a whisper sounds...
"My Son, I love you. And it will be alright."

A talk by Elder Ballard: Suicide: Some things we know, and some things we do not know.
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