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Feb27WedWhen a suicidal Sharon cried out for help, The Salvation Army answered. February 27, 2019 by Linda Leigh
Alcohol and bulimia had taken over Sharon’s life. Then, following the death of her mother, she lost all hope and the desire to live. With a bottle of pills in her hand, Sharon called The Salvation Army in St. John’s, N.L. “I wasn’t looking for attention,” says Sharon. “I was ready to go.”
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Hitting Rock Bottom
Sharon was raised in a Christian home and sang and played guitar in the church. But at 16, she rebelled. Drinking with friends went from moderate to excessive in a short time. At 19, she moved to Alberta with her boyfriend. There was alcohol and abuse. When Sharon’s family in Newfoundland and Labrador learned of her volatile situation, her father called The Salvation Army in Fort McMurray, Alta., for help.
“Two Salvation Army pastors drove me to the bus station and travelled the four-hour journey to the Edmonton airport with me, where I caught a plane home,” says Sharon. “What they did was unbelievable.”
Back home in Newfoundland and Labrador, Sharon eventually married and began working in the office of a trucking company.
“Every night after work people went for drinks, and I was right there,” Sharon says now. “Many times, my husband came home from work to find me on the floor unconscious, and would call an ambulance.”
In 2015, Sharon viewed her situation as completely hopeless with no way to change things for the better.
“I was drunk every day—and was tired of it,” she says. “I had such low self-esteem I didn’t think I was fit to live. I felt like a complete failure. So I got in my car, sped down the road and deliberately drove into a light pole. But that suicide attempt failed.”
Still suicidal, Sharon went home intending to take the bottle of pills. But in an unexpected moment of clarity, she wondered who could help her or give her words of comfort.
She called The Salvation Army.
The Choice to Live
“Help please,” she said to the Salvation Army worker on the other end of the line at the New Hope Community Centre in St. John’s. “I’m at my wits’ end and want to end my life.”
“The social services worker who took the call was understandably overwhelmed by the intensity of Sharon’s need, and asked me if I could take the call,” says Major Hedley Bungay, the executive director and chaplain there.
For the next two hours, he listened to her problems and let her talk about her feelings and thoughts.
“This was a true moment of peace for Sharon,” he says, “where she was able to let go of the guilt and the negative things in her life.”
He then called her regularly for the next year.
“Her life took on a more meaningful path of sobriety and contentment,” Major Hedley says.
“With support from Major Bungay, I turned back to God and took control of my life,” says Sharon. “I never drank again.
“The Salvation Army cared about me, a total stranger,” she concludes. “Conversations with them created a safe space for me to open up about my feelings and develop a positive outlook. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and am proof that new beginnings are possible.”
Feature photo: © Antonioguillem/stock.Adobe.com