Leah James on Overcoming Suicidal Thoughts
Losing someone closest to you is one of the toughest things people experience. Leah James lost her mother at the age of 13 and it lead her to depression and suicidal thoughts.
She started writing poetry after her mother died, and she believes if it were not for that experience, she wouldn’t love or know God the way she does now.
Today she travels the United States glorifying Christ through her poetry. Read more and learn why suicide is never the answer.
Tell me about your childhood, what influences, positive and negative, shaped who you are today?
My upbringing was a pretty difficult one. I was raised in a single parent home in Joliet, Illinois right outside of Chicago. We were very poor and I attended inner city schools. I didn’t know we were poor though. My mom always made sure I was taken care of. When I was 13 years old my mother died. Which was and still is the worst thing I’ve ever been through. I had no one to take care of me so I had to move to New Jersey to live with my oldest sister, whom I barely knew. It was extremely hard. I dealt a lot with depression and thoughts of suicide.
When did your love for poetry and Christ start?
I always attended church so I knew I needed to find one, I found one and truly fell in love with Jesus. Before my mom died, my relationship with God wasn’t really real. I just went to church because I knew it was the right thing to do. Then I developed my own relationship with God after my mother died. Honestly, if I never lost my mother I don’t think I’d love or know God the way I do now. I also started writing after my my mother died. My sister bought me a notebook and encouraged me to write, I had no idea what I was writing was considered poetry nor did I think it would ever take me where I am now. In a way, God chose poetry to save my life. Many nights I wanted to die but instead, I would write.
How do you believe poetry saved your life?
I believe poetry saved my life because I had no outlet. No one to talk to. I wasn’t close with my family so I bottled up a lot inside. Writing poetry became my release. My notebook and pen became my best friends. If I didn’t start writing I believe I would have ended my life. God showed me, and told me, through many poems I wrote that it would be worth it and to hold on.
What are you goals with poetry?
My goals with poetry are pretty broad. I just want to invoke change and make people think for themselves. I want my poetry to bring hope to people who never had hope before. I want people to see and feel the heart of God through everything I write. Whether it is the cliche “Christian poem” or a poem about Social Injustice. I would love for my poetry to put me on platforms where I can share my testimony and experience with God.
What advice do you have for our audience who may have dealt with suicidal thoughts?
For anyone who has dealt with suicidal thoughts or currently is dealing with them, know that you are not alone. You are loved and if you hold on just a little longer things will get better. Suicide is NEVER the answer. I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust and if you have no one I would encourage you to call a suicide prevention hotline. I think it is important to tell people who have wanted to kill themselves that they are NOT WEAK and that they can handle anything that life throws their way. I believe that.