Greetings in Christ,
“Out of the depths I have cried unto Thee, O LORD, O LORD, hear my voice.” Psalm 130.1
Recent celebrity suicides have been in the news causing one to wonder why these folk who appeared to have it all going their way took their own lives. Reports also detail a disturbing rise in suicide rates across the nation as well as in several European countries. Again, questions are raised as to why people in some of the wealthiest nations find life too challenging to bear.
For far too long we have been unwilling to talk about suicide and the factors that lead up to a person ending their own life. Add to that the guilt and shame the survivors experience and it is not surprising that we still are uncomfortable talking about it.
Christians who believe that each person is created in the image of God it is an act of love and charity to openly discuss suicide and to address the factors that lead up to it. Like the psalmist, many people live their life in the depths of emotional and spiritual pain. Life for them is often so challenging that the thought of struggling through another day is so painful that they would rather not go on. Depression and other emotional illnesses are often at the root of suicide. It is important to begin regarding all emotional and psychological illnesses as illnesses. A person who is depressed can not just ‘get over it’ any more than a person with high blood pressure will that disease away. For far too long we have treated emotional illnesses as a moral failing and not a disease. Like all diseases, it has to be diagnosed and treated.
As Christians, we also need to try to comprehend that nearly everyone is carrying a burden that is a challenge for them to bear. They may on the surface appear to be doing well, but underneath things aren’t as good. We often cannot change the circumstances of another’s life but can be there for them. We can listen, really listen to what they are saying. It may not be easy for them to put into words what their struggle is like, but to have someone take the time to hear them is an important step toward helping them get their life back on track.
Of course, if someone actually threatens to harm themselves, that is the time to act. If the danger of self-harm seems immediate do not leave the person alone until medical help can be obtained. Call their doctor, the local law enforcement or EMS and get them to the ER.
The vast majority of suicides can be avoided by another person taking the time to truly care about the one who is struggling. It won’t solve all their problems, but it will provide them with someone who believes their life is valuable.