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Thoughts of Suicide

By Tzvi Fishman
11/26/2008, 12:00 AM

Those who play down the dangers of the Internet, either are not aware of the extent of the problem, or else they simply don't care about fellow Jews. Here's an example of what I've been talking about, along with my response. Maybe you have other advise you can add to help save him and thousands of others from drowning.

Drowning in the web

Letter:

I am desperate and don’t know what to do. I can’t stop watching porn on the Internet and masturbating. Sometimes it’s the first thing I do in the morning before going off to school. After school, I hurry back to my house for more. My parents work so no one bothers me. Anyway I have my own room. It’s the same thing at night. I’m on the net for hours. I don’t have friends anymore. When I pray in synagogue, I just mouth the words. The only break I have is on Sabbath when I can’t use the computer. I walk around feeling like a criminal, knowing I have something terrible that I am hiding from everyone. After my bouts of forbidden pleasure, I feel dirty and super depressed. Sometimes I have thoughts about killing myself and putting an end to everything. 

Reply:

The fact that you have a guilty conscience is a very healthy sign. It shows that your spiritual powers are still working. They are strong enough to pull you out of your depression and addiction, but you have to work on them, to strengthen them even more. Whatever you can do in this regard, by praying to G-d for assistance, by learning Torah, by reciting the Tikun HaClalli, or Tikun Yeshuat Eliahu, by going to the mikvah as often as you can, and by following the other advice offered in many places on the jewishsexuality.com website.

Also, the fact that you still keep the Sabbath shows that your connection to Torah is still intact. With some real effort on your part, you can build it into a burning flame for G-d, instead of your for misguided passions. In addition, you can harness the same will power you use to keep off the net on the Sabbath, to help you keep clean all the days of the week. Remember, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” With G-d’s help, you have the inner power. Work on it!

You should know that you are not some kind of evil monster. The sexual urge is a natural thing. G-d created it so that people would get married and have children. When the time comes for you to get married, you will have a healthy and holy way to channel your sexual energy. So don’t get down on yourself. Everyone has hormones, and everyone falls down in this area. Don’t let your despair overwhelm you, and don’t panic. Thousands of people, young and old alike, have had your problem, and they have found the inner will and power to stop.

It is true that watching forbidden sites on the Internet and masturbation are serious transgressions, but, once again, getting overly down on yourself is self-destructive. Everyone has weaknesses and commits transgressions. Some people speak lashon hara (speaking bad about others) habitually; some people neglect to pray regularly; others aren’t careful to eat only kosher food. We are here on earth to improve ourselves in line with the teachings of the Torah. It’s a lifelong project. Like on a roller coaster, there are ups and downs. Just remember that every down has an end, and that your upswing is just around the corner.

You need a friend!

Our Sages teach that a person cannot free himself from prison. You are a prisoner of sorts, and you need help to break free from the urges you have become enslaved to. Help can come from a friend, a teacher, a rabbi, a counselor, one’s father or older brother. Try sharing your secret with someone. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. I am sure you will find an understanding ear. Two people working together are a lot stronger than one.

There are some practical steps you can take starting now. Schools all over the world are encouraging parents to install filters on their home computers. There’s an old adage that says, “out of sight, out of mind.” Tell your parents that you would like them to download a filter like other families are doing. It is also smart to get the computer out of your room. Put it in some central place where others can see you. Also stop coming home right after school. Do things with friends. Join a sports team. Take part in all kinds of extra-curriculum activities. Maybe even find yourself a part time job. Too much free time is a danger for anyone.

Of course, it is best to treat the underlining problem as well. Usually, an addiction stems from a feeling of emptiness inside. A person feels he is lacking something and seeks to fill up the void with his addiction, whether it be through gambling, alcoholism, or pornography. It could be that a person doesn’t feel loved, or that he feels distant from G-d, or that he lacks a positive image of himself. When a person discovers the inner root of his compulsion, he can begin to fill up the emptiness with positive solutions, like renewing one’s connection with parents, loved ones, and strengthening one’s connection to G-d.

Finally, don’t look at yourself as a sinner, or as a social reject, or failure. See yourself as a holy warrior engaged in a battle with the forces of evil. By overcoming them, you will not only liberate yourself, you will bring great blessing to the Jewish People, and to all off the world.

Feel free to write to us personally via the contact page of the js website. If you would like to speak to one of us at jewishsexuality.com by telephone, leave your number, or we can send you ours. Hatzlachah!