I was fourteen the first time I remember wanting to die.  Lying in bed one night I just had an almost overwhelming desire to die.  I couldn’t explain it or make it go away, so I tried to ignore it.  I never told anyone.  But by the time I was seventeen, wanting to die was a normal emotion for me. 

When I was a little girl, my older brother told me that killing yourself is a sin and that God won’t forgive you for it.  For years, that fear was the only thing that kept me from killing myself.  I never told anyone.  Not my parents, my brother, my friends, or my doctor. 

In my quest to be the perfect pastor’s daughter, I learned how to wear a mask at all times so that nobody—even my family—would know that anything was wrong.  And when the mask would slip and someone would see my weakness or my pain, I’d explain it away and then put my mask back on.

I thought that when I accepted Christ, my life would be filled with joy and that I would somehow live above the pain, but that didn’t happen.  In fact, some of the most painful things that have happened to me have happened since I accepted Christ.  I came to realize that if Satan couldn’t kill me (which the Bible says he can’t) then he was going to do everything possible to steal my joy and to make me ineffective in the Kingdom.

God gave me an incredible support system to surround me in the first few years that I was a Christian.  They encouraged me, exhorted me, and constantly challenged me to grow closer to Christ.  During my senior year of college, I went to school full time, wrote a feature-length screenplay, and worked full time.  And the closer I got to Christ, the more people began to depend on me for their emotional support.  Most nights when I came back to the dorm from work at 1 am, I’d find people or messages or emails.  “Sarah, I need…”  “Sarah, can you…”  “Sarah, do you have…”  “Sister, I have this problem…” 

And so, one night, sitting at my desk, I decided that I couldn’t keep up the charade anymore.  I grabbed a white Kleenex, laid it on the desk, and then began to scout the suite for whatever pills I could find.  As I found pills of various kinds, I brought them and piled them neatly in the center of the Kleenex.  White pills, red pills, green pills, yellow pills.  A veritable buffet of death.  I made one last trip to the bathroom to hunt for pills and as I passed the mirror, I saw myself out of the corner of my eye.


Without stopping to think about it, I ran to the bedroom, grabbed the Kleenex off my desk, and flushed the whole mess down the toilet.

The late Rev. Tommy Tyson once said, “If you smile enough and you’re friendly enough, no one will think you’re afraid.”  And that’s been my life: one smile after another, trying to convince the world and myself that I’m not afraid or weak or inferior.  And while I’d been somewhat successful at convincing the world, I hadn’t managed to convince myself.  I hadn’t realized that Christ is my faith, my strength, and my worth.  Facing the pressures of the world by myself, I lost my hope.  Even when I flushed the pills, I somehow couldn’t find my hope.

In the years since that night, I continued to walk with Christ.  There have been other nights, even since then, that I have thought of killing myself.  But, I began to learn how to let down my mask and be more real with people.  I began to tell my story.  And like peeling an onion, layers and layers and layers of hurt and pain and fear began to peel away.  But many days, I was still aware that at the end of the day, I hadn’t really been victorious.  Really, I was just hanging onto a cliff by my fingertips.

Last July, I went on my 6th mission trip.  Our team was hosted by a wonderful missionary couple who strongly believe in the power of prayer.  One morning, as we were driving to our clinic for the day, the missionary wife reached over to quietly pray for me.  And when she began to whisper in my ear, I broke.  She said, “Sarah, you have no hope.  Where’s your hope?”  And then, she prayed that God would take away my hopelessness and heal me.  That day, thousands of miles from home, God began to heal the hurts of thirty years.

Earlier this year, I had a family member who struggled with some suicidal thoughts.  Even as I prayed for her, I thought, “Lord, would it help for me to tell my story?”  But I knew the answer before I asked it.  I told part of my story one night at a women’s Bible study at church and when I did, it was like a dam broke.  Women all over the room began to break down and tell of their struggles.  Why is it that we women of God are so afraid to ask for help and to let people see our weakness?  But that night, we did—and it was the most powerful night of ministry I’ve ever experienced in that church. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (TLB) “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.  These bodies of ours are constantly facing death just as Jesus did; so it is clear to all that it is only the living Christ within [who keeps us safe].”

About Sarah Salter


  1. It is amazing what God brings us to, and through. You have lived an amazing life, and have such a heart for others and their struggles.

    I think we are afraid, because, quite frankly, most women gossip. (Big shocker) I don’t share much with many women because I have always, always, ended up hurt. THey have told what I have said and/or made up something to go along with it.

    We, as women, constantly tear each other down. It is a multitude of reasons, but mainly boils down (in my opinion) to jealousy…always wanting to appear better than another. A better looker, worker, Christian, wife, Mom….friend….

    Our women are hurting and are afraid to reach out to each other because we always get burned. It is very sad.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Kimae, I think that for me, the factor was that we (my brother and I) grew up believing that everything we did reflected on our parents. If the church folks were displeased with us, then they could (and sometimes did) ask us to move. I hated packing up and leaving all of my friends, so I learned to fake like everything in my life was perfect, even when it really wasn’t. It was a very immature way of thinking, but years of practice made it instinctive to me.

    Another big factor for me has been the “shame” factor. Guilt is when you feel that you’ve DONE something wrong. Shame is when you feel that you ARE something wrong. When I was 8 years old, I went through some incidents of abuse that made me feel ashamed. I was living with the shame, but at the same time, hiding it (even from my parents). It was like living in a pressure cooker. The best analogy I can think of is a line from a Rich Mullins song where he says, “It’s so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart.”

    God gave me an analogy yesterday. He said, “Sometimes, when a child is scared or hurting, they’re so busy screaming and crying that they don’t notice that you’re there holding them and healing them.” Yep. I’ve been there. And now, I’m learning to stop screaming and crying and look for God to hold me and heal me… And sometimes, that includes reaching out to others and asking for help.

  3. Oh sweet Sarah. I do believe we have had this very conversation before, girlfriend. 🙂 You know I can relate.

    Though I never have had suicidal thoughts, as a fellow “PK”, (Heeeey, represent!) I understand the whole mask-wearing charade all too well. And as you know, I still struggle from time to time with the “I’ve gotta make everything look okay on the outside because it’s not okay to need help” insanity. It is a lie straight from the pit of hell!

    As I have learned over the years, God has created us for relationships, both with Him and with others. We must rest first in Him, but then also rest in the arms of our brothers and sisters in Christ when we are hurting. Satan wants to isolate us and get inside our heads in order to perpetuate the lies. The lies which create separation from the One who wants to heal us and the ones who want to pray for, love and support us.

    I’m not going to lie, it is still hard for me to allow myself to reach out to people for support. But I am better at it than I used to be. I am SO grateful to God that He intervened and prevented you from harming yourself–you have been an incredible blessing to me.

    Love you, friend! Thank you for always sharing from your heart.

  4. Barbara says:

    I think I recognize those lyrics.. Struck down but not destroyed, and we are definitely blessed beyond the curse. I for one an certainly glad that God never lets us down no matter what. And glad you didn’t go anywhere, don’t know what I would have ever done with out you… Thank God for you everyday..

  5. Eliza Garrison says:

    Sarah, read and listen with your heart; Romans 8:1-2(NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those (you) who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life – giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death!! Amen?

    I am not a PK kid! I have been abused by some family members. BUT, The power of God has and continues to deliver me from condemnation and learned behaviors.

    Philippians 4:8-9 (CJB) In conclusion, brothers, focus your thoughts on what is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, on some virtue or on something praiseworthy. Keep doing what you have learned and received from me, what you have heard and seen me doing; then the God who gives shalom (peace) will be with you!!

    Matthew 11:28-30 Read it Sarah, For God says, for my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light!! I love you.


  6. Lovely testimony that, and so powerfully written. No matter how many times you tell a story like that, it still takes courage, and I believe God rewards that.

    Keep it up, there is beauty and truth on this blog.


  7. Sarah,

    We have parallel lives…I promise. As a woman prayed over me at a ladies’ retreat…saying “the black cloud that has always hung over your head is lifting tonight” God began to heal me. He healed me from over 30 years of crying myself to sleep every.single.night.

    That line from Rich Mullins about it being so hot in my soul I swear there must be blisters on my heart…that song was my anthem while I was in college.

    Today, as I share my story, He’s giving me a new song…one of praise to my King and many will see, hear and believe because of it.

    Thank you for your heart for women…they are hurting and He wants to heal them.

    I think we’re sisters separated at birth.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    It is good to hear that you open up. I still have not been able to. Many people look up to me especially family and close friends making it hard to tell of my aches, let alone hurts. Getta take it I guess. Good for you.

  9. So glad God and His angels kept you from doing the unthinkable that night….

    You are wonderful Sarah.

    Don’t let anyone or any doubts make you think differently.

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