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My adolescent son has been engaging in recurring sinful behavior that I believe might have led to a mental illness. He recently attempted suicide and his doctor believes medication is the best treatment option. I don’t know what to do. I just know I want my child to be safe. I know you aren’t a doctor, but I was wondering if you had any advice about other things we could try instead.

I know this is a really difficult situation, and I deeply wish I could be of more help. However, as you rightly pointed out, I’m not a doctor and don’t know your son’s situation, so I wouldn’t dream of suggesting changing or stopping any particular treatment.¹

In addition to working closely with your son’s doctors, I would recommend a few things:

1. Continue to pray for his salvation and repentance. Share the gospel with him and point him to Christ whenever you have the opportunity to do so, but use wisdom and be sure you’re not pushing him past what he can deal with at the moment. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the work on your son’s heart that only He can do.

2. Set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling- for you, your husband, and any other children still living at home. If your son would be willing to see your pastor for counseling – in addition to any other treatment he’s receiving, not instead of – that would probably be beneficial as well. Your pastor should have received training in counseling in seminary and can help guide your family through this situation.

3. If your pastor is unable or unwilling to counsel you (or in addition to your pastor’s counseling), you might want to seek out a Certified Biblical Counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. This is not secular counseling with a Christianish tilt to it, but counselors who have received extensive training in Scripture, theology, and counseling to help you apply the Bible to your situation as you walk through it, and help your son understand his sin and the gospel. They are very helpful, and I highly recommend them.

As I said, I wish I could do more to help. I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you. I’m taking a moment to pray for you now, and ask everyone reading this to pray for this family as well.


¹A brief note to my readers- I know many of you strongly disagree with psychological and psychiatric treatment. There are many aspects of these disciplines which I disagree with as well. However, it would be dangerous, unethical, unwise, and ungodly for me to recommend for or against any specific type of treatment in this forum. Any comments suggesting this parent should discontinue any type of mental health treatment her child is currently receiving will not be published.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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