Saturday, 10 September 2011

10 September, World Suicide Prevention Day

The Dark Night of the Soul

Often associated with depression, the dark night of the soul is perhaps one of the most perilous forms spiritual emergency can take, because of the danger of suicide. Reaching out for support is imperative at such times. In the UK there is an excellent non-medical facility in London for anyone who is feeling suicidal, the MayTree Foundation. You can stay there for up to four nights, with someone available 24 hours, to help you through the worst time ( Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or, in America, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255, both 24 hours a day.
       Contrary to popular belief, the dark night of the soul is not only about pain and misery. It is as much about the freshly dawning light that can break through after the totally debilitating times of the dark night. A helpful book on the subject is Gerald May’s The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth. Drawing on his clinical experience, May writes that depression and the 'dark night' often go hand in hand, in the same way that we have seen how other spiritual crises can be accompanied by psychotic-type symptoms. He considers it not helpful to try to separate them out, the important thing being to treat the depression where present and to support the 'dark night'.

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