The Suicide Notice

The Suicide Notice

By:  Susan Schiller  Photo Source  Click Here for An Audio Recording if You Prefer to Listen!

From the series, "Escape to Freedom: Diary of a Battered Preacher's Wife"

"So I'm sitting here with a broken heart wondering what on earth could bring a sister in Christ to a point that she would take her own life??? I don't understand??? It troubles me that she was driven to such a place of hopelessness that she could see no other way out. My heart is broken... She was gentle and sweet and loved the Lord. She had a heart for people and animals. She will be dearly missed." — Facebook status update recently from someone in my newsfeed.

Why would a happy, healthy middle-aged lady take her own life? I'd like to take you inside, behind the closed doors of a reality most people have never experienced. And frankly, most people don't want to know exists. I know this reality well and have lived it most of my life.

Having listened to the stories of nearly a hundred survivors of narcissistic and sociopathic abuse, I know from my own experience and theirs, that long-term psychological abuse, even to the level of torture tactics, can kill a normal person long before their body is dead. In many cases, illness follows, and sometimes physical death. Sometimes "suicide".  I, myself, have been severely ill, even to the point of death, at least once per decade.

Another survivor, yesterday, said this to me: "My spath (shortcut for sociopath) kept yelling at me, 'When are you going to just die!'" Many of these women fit the character profile described of the dead woman at the beginning of this post: gentle, quiet, loves the Lord, would never do anything to hurt anyone… Yet, behind closed doors they face an abuser whose clear motive is their death.

Reading through the comments under the suicide notice, of the dozens of people offering sympathy and prayers, not a single person had a clue that their friend or associate could be near the brink of death. She was attending a small Bible study group as well as an active member of her church. No one even suspected she was suffering.

Here's what I do know, for a fact. There are more women in our churches who are suffering behind closed doors than you may realize. Their deep mental and emotional bruises and scars are invisible to the naked eye. They smile, laugh, and are some of the most active volunteers. They have amazing empathy and compassion for those who are suffering.

Why doesn't she tell someone? Why doesn't she get help? Leave?

What happened in my own experience, as well as many of the survivors I have listened to, is that the longer the abuse goes on and the more the victim tries to do something about it, the greater the abuse escalates behind closed doors. In most cases, her abuser is a well-loved, very charismatic, and a charming "believer in the Lord". He may be a pastor, an elder or a deacon, a doctor, or in other ways a well-respected and admired member of her society. Once she confronts him and seeks to get help, the abuse escalates and the effects are devastating. In many cases, she becomes an accomplice to the evil, complicit with her silence.

In many cases, these victims are left with no resources. The abuser often takes full control of the finances, their identity, and in the cruelest twist of all, turns the victim's family and friends against her. The abuser's clever lies are meant to make him appear the victim. She is trapped in a web of deceit so clever even her pastor may turn against her, which is the most common scenario.

When her family and friends side with the abuser, she begins to think she's the problem. She feels devasted, ruined.

Often, this process spans many years, even decades. The venom works slowly, insidiously, and is fatal unless she escapes. Most victims never escape to freedom. Without help, the victim may choose drugs and alcohol. She may also choose suicide. She may choose to put on a happy face mask while going numb inside.

Or, she can choose Gethsemane. Death is the only way out. She is in need of resurrection and nothing else will help. Our justice system is not equipped to deal with sociopaths and neither are our churches… not yet.

"When tragedy makes its unwelcome appearance and we are deaf to everything but the shriek of our own agony, when courage flies out the window and the world seems to be a hostile, menacing place, it is the hour of our own Gethsemane. No word, however sincere, offers any comfort or consolation. The night is bad. Our minds are numb, our hearts vacant, our nerves shattered. How will we make it through the night? The God of our lonely journey is silent." — Brennan Manning

My heart goes out to the victims who remain in a cycle of deep hurt and pain. They are being dragged through hell backwards.

As a child in sixth grade, I used to daydream a lot, because our grade school lessons were rather repetitive, I thought… and I used to vividly imagine myself being let down into the pit of hell, pulling up anyone who wanted a lift out. Today, I would call it meditation. I was talking to God in the quiet of my mind, my outward body sitting at a school desk, but my inner mind exploring the vast regions of religion and philosophy. Silently, I formed the prayer, even back then as a 12-year old, that if God would use me, I'd enter hell to see if there was anyone I could help escape from the torment.

As an adult, 40-years later in my 52-year old body, I can say with authority that I have been to hell and back. I escaped to freedom. Not just once, but twice.

In my next post, I'm going to continue this thread, with an article titled "Reinvention through Resurrection". I hope you will join me on the journey, even if you've never been abused. Hopefully, it will provide you with a "vaccination" against abuse that you can share with others!

I'd love to share the whole story with you in my upcoming book, "On the Way Home," which I am publishing in the next few months. Register here to reserve your FREE copy! You will never be the same again… you will know your enemy. You will become as wise as a serpent, even while remaining innocent as a dove.

With all my love,


PS  The photo above was selected because the suicide victim loved animals, so this article is written to honor her life, her passion to extend mercy, and her love.

I would love to hear what you're thinking and feeling – please scroll down a little below to the comment box! It would be an honor to hear your heart!

Susan Deborah Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate her way out of hell to a rich and satisfying life. In her lifetime, Susan has served in duties ranging from home school mom – to pastor –  to full-time deliverance minister – and to Midwest regional prayer coordinator for a large international ministry. These days you can usually find Susan soaking in her favorite hot springs pool, reading a book (or several), blogging, baking bread, or hanging out with her family and friends. You can get a free copy of Susan's upcoming book, "On the Way Home" by registering here.

Copyright 2012, Susan Schiller, Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Joyce Lagana February 3, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I have to say, Sue, that I am one of those who put on a happy face and went numb inside.  I am slowly working through it all, VERY slowly, and I know the Lord is with me each step of the way.  I hear His heart as He mourns over the hurt and pain that spouses inflict.  I am blessed because my spath actually had a true conversion experience and the Holy Spirit has done an amazing job of recreating him into the image of Christ.  Unfortunately for me, the damage was already done.  Now, however, I find my former spath to be a partner in bringing me back to life, as he mourns too for what has happened. 

I often thought of myself as damaged goods, yet I knew I could be healed.  The hardest part of all of those years was my church family, who all thought he was wonderful.  There was no where to turn in the church for help. My dream is to change that.  I have set up a goal to initiate a Women's Care ministry within the church — a place of safety for women who need help and support.  Thank you for inspiring me.


Susan Schiller February 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Those who have been hurt the most tend to have the most compassion for those who hurt the most.

I’d really love to hear more of your story, Joyce… it’s quite unusual for a spath to have a true conversion, and even more special, though, that this person is helping to bring you back to life. Wow, wow, and more wow… seriously! I’ve only heard of this happening one time.

“Nowhere in the church to turn for help,” as you say, is a most damaging situation.

Yay for your dream! A place of safety, is definitely needed. First, we need “abuse-free zones” is my own thinking…. and it sounds like what you’re thinking, too. I’m so glad we’ve met. I will be praying for you!!!


Jeanne costello July 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm

I love everything you write and am so glad you have the courage to persevere and press through sometimes mountains that feel too high to climb. You are a real warrior Susan and have such a tender heart. I can't wait to read the book. Thanks for not giving up


Susan Schiller July 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Dear Jeanne,

You have been a tried and true friend who is walking on a similar journey, and for that I’m unendingly grateful. Authentic people are becoming harder to find, and you are one of the most passionate and compassionately real people there are – thank YOU!!! And thank you for the encouraging comment 🙂


Jessica Stone July 1, 2013 at 7:26 am

Oh, Sue… this breaks my heart.  To know that the very place that people need help and solace is not offering any (the church) is heartbreaking.  The fact that the "body" lost a member because she didn't have hope is very saddening.  My heart and prayers go out to her family.  This is also a good reminder that it is God we trust in first, even before His people and His church.  I think it's SO cool to hear that what you daydreamed all those many years ago is what God is using now as a ministry to others in desperate need of care.  Not that I would wish your previous circumstances on anyone – but… Romans 8:28.  I have had many of those "daydreams" in my life, too – my special needs kids and my twins – they were daydreams once!


Susan Schiller July 1, 2013 at 7:33 am

Wow, Jessica! I remember you writing about that – and immediately, I thought how your present situation is a manifestation of your previous heart’s cry! YES! That’s exactly how it all works out. We definitely have a creative imagination, and now to use it consciously to create a better future – not just for ourselves, but for the world 🙂


Sharon O'Day June 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I was lucky enough to be innoculated — I don't know when or how — to be "allergic" to most forms of abuse.  To what extent are we predisposed to accepting abuse because of what we saw, or thought we saw, growing up?  I don't have the answer, but do know how often I've been able to be one piece of rope that helped pull others out of devastating situations.  I feel blessed.


Susan Schiller June 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Yes, indeed, you are one who is pulling people out of the storms… you are a strong beacon of freedom and hope, Sharon!


Yetunde June 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Thank you Susan, for this article. Only God can truly know what goes on in a person's mind. So many are hurting and contemplating suicide every minute for various reasons.

I lost aiend a few years ago, she was a strong believer but she still committed suicide. The painful thing was that her children saw the Police helicopter lift a body out of the lake behind their house but they did not know at the time that it was their mother.

I often wondered what drove her to it, but I remember that in the months leading to her death, she would not pick up her phone and if she did she "was busy and promised to call back" but never did.

Eventually we found out she was having a really tough time in her marriage.

Its sad to say but suicidal thoughts even happen in the church.

In my downtimes during my marriage and even after, the thought did cross my mind but I quickly check  myself that I would definitely not make heaven if I did and also "why would I do that to my children?"

I pray that whoever is a victim and has such thoughts will reach out to the "right person".

May theLord heal all those suffering right now. Amen



Susan Schiller June 30, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Your heart of compassion shines, Yetunde… it’s hard to understand the circumstances and thoughts that drive some to despair. The story you share speaks to me… that I should pay more attention when someone just “drops out” of communication, even with her friends. Thanks so much for sharing, Yetunde… hugs!


Sue Glashower June 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm

This made me realize how outward appearance can be so decieving and you never know what the person you sit next to in church every week may be going though silently. A great reminder to be a compassionate friend to those in need!


Susan Schiller June 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Very true, Sue… thanks!


Carolyn Hughes June 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm

There is so much here that I can relate to Susan. Your passion to help others through their pain and despair is so evident here. Thank you for the way you reach out to others and show them hope and healing.


Jenny Shain June 27, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Thank you for getting these stories out there. Too often these hurting spouses are buried under false smiles in our very own churches every week. We must be able to listen to them & empower them. Walking with them down this long road


Lydia June 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

I look forward to reading your next instalment in this series!

Growing up I was a preacher's kid. We had a few ladies in our church who fit your description quite well (although as a kid I had no idea what was going on at the time). One of them finally left her husband after decades of abuse. It took her a very long time to put the pieces of her life back together, but in retrospect I'm amazed that she was able to get away from him. He dominated and terrified her and their children for so many years.


Susan Schiller June 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

Lydia, your experience says it all… how you’re amazed she was able to escape at all, and how the process took years. I would love to hear more of her story  – I will check out your link – thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! I will Tweet again when the next chapter is published 🙂


Lydia July 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I just now saw your response, Susan. I'll call the woman I knew "Anna." 

Anna's husband was a well-respected man in the church who did a lot of work behind the scenes. The family lived over an hour away from the church. Now I wonder if they chose a church so far away from home to discourage anyone from getting too close to them.

The wife was extremely quiet, solemn, and withdrawn. It was really hard to get to know her, and after she finally left him her mental health became pretty fragile. With medication and counselling she slowly improved. She even started laughing and joking around occasionally, which was something we'd never seen her do before.

Their kids were teenagers when we first met them. They were unusually quiet as well*, although I eventually befriended the two youngest ones. After their father had been out of the house for a few years they shared a few stories about what he'd done to them. 

This is not to say that a quiet personality is a sign of abuse! But this family walked on eggshells. In retrospect I can see how they measured every word and gesture as if they were made of gold. That's not emotionally healthy. 🙂

The whole family has slowly recovered, but I still see their emotional scars. One of her kids ended up becoming a victim of abuse in their own marriage, another one struggled with drug and alcohol issues for many years (although this one is stable now). 

Your book is sorely needed. 





Susan Schiller July 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Dear Lydia,

I bless your heart of compassion, to see Anna's plight… even years afterward, understanding it better. I'm glad her family is recovering, but what you describe… her daughter becoming a victim, wow… it fits the whole scheme of how it works.

All of our stories combined, can make a difference, I believe… thanks so  much for taking time to write Anna's story here! And thank you for your encouraging words about my book, too, because it's the hardest thing I've ever done, next to escaping.

Thanks so much, Lydia!


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