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Local pastor opens up about how mental illness and Christianity can coexist

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Do spirituality and suicide prevention belong in the same conversation? WHNT News 19 recently spoke to one local pastor who wholeheartedly believes they should be.

"I think that God made us that we're emotional beings," explains Steve Lacy, a teaching pastor at the Madison Campus of Willowbrook Baptist Church. "We're physical beings and we're spiritual beings. It's kind of a triad. I think all three affect the others."

Lacy recently preached a sermon titled, 'Where is God when I'm Depressed?'

"Depression is a God given emotional state that is meant to safeguard us emotionally the same way pain safeguards us physically," shared Lacy during his sermon in June.

As a minister, he's helped many people struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide.

"If someone is depressed, you want to say, 'Have you thought about taking your life?'" says Lacy. "A key thing is asking, 'Have you thought how you would do it?' That's kind of a turning point. If something has actually thought through those processes, you really need to get them to a professional right away. There's the adage that people who talk about it don't really do it, that's actually not true."

Lacy acknowledges that for many, there is discomfort with the idea of discussing mental illness, especially when it co-exists with Christianity. However, he believes it's necessary. Lacy says being open to the help of a mental professional doesn't mean you're shutting God out.

"If you're with a professional and they say you may need to take medication for a while to reset, don't fight that," says Lacy. "You need someone else to be the instruments of your life. When it comes to the suicide itself, as a Christian we connect to God. It's not what we do that makes a relationship with Christ, it's what Christ has done."

Pastor Steve Lacy's beliefs are rooted in deeply personal experiences with depression, mental illness and suicide. He shares them, along with his journey to a place of hope, in our upcoming suicide prevention special.

Watch 'SPEAK Up: Taking Action to Prevent Suicide' on Saturday, August 25th at 6:30 p.m. It's part of our ongoing partnership with the Huntsville Hospital Foundation for the SPEAK Initiative. SPEAK stands for Suicide, Prevention, Empowerment, Awareness and Knowledge.

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