- Pastor John Smith
Suicide Prevention Starts With Hope
Suicide is never the easy way out, nor is it the best alternative to living. It births tragedy, pain, and the shockwave of suicide lasts in friends and family for a lifetime. Regardless of the Shakespearian ideal or the veneer of slickly produced 52 minute episodes, suicide is never glamourous.
The Netflix show “13 Reason’s Why,” which graphically depicts events and the psychology of a teenage girl who chooses to end her life, has once again put teenage suicide back into the realm of public discussion. Its unflinching portrayal of suicide is difficult to watch, to say the least, yet that is its intention. Suicide should disturb us to the very core, and for that I appreciate what the show is trying to communicate.
However, watching it, I cannot help but think that this is so far removed from real life experience. Suicide is much darker and more heartbreaking than anything the small screen of television can ever reproduce. The events leading up to someone making the decision cannot be boiled down to some episodic ventures, but rather it is the existence of a deep feeling of being ostracized, lonely and depressed, all of which are not so easily defined and categorized. We never really know the reason why someone chooses to end their life, we can make strong guesses or speculations given their circumstances, but the question of “why?” will always remain unanswered.
One of the most challenging things that a minister can face, is counseling a family in the wake of suicide. As pastors we are looked at as men who are supposed to know the answers, yet when it comes to something so shattering, we are left with shaking our head and saying “I don’t know why.” Again, the reality of being there in that moment with a family, and walking with them as they try to piece together the reasons why, is hardly fodder for a television program.
Nonetheless, suicide can be prevented. It is not an inevitable end to some one’s life or some random act of violence that suddenly snuffs out an innocent victim. Suicide prevention begins with hope.
The Scriptures are clear that “hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Prov. 13:12). Where there is an absence of hope and all seems at a loss, it deeply affects the soul. Think about the teenager who is contemplating ending his life, where is his hope? All he sees is rejection from friends and family maybe, that his circumstances are never going to change, and that the only alternative is to end his life. That teenager needs hope—a beacon that is to pierce the darkness of what they are feeling and going through. The word “hope” is not some political buzzword, hope is everything and hope begins with God.
“Hope in God” (Psalm 42:5) the Psalmist says as he was in the middle of the darkest seasons of life. Why hope in God? Because he is love, he is there, and he is mighty to save.
God is always near to the brokenhearted and to the one, who is deeply hurting he brings in close, binds up the wounds, that we and others inflict on us and gives grace to endure. The God of the Bible is the God of life, and that is why he beckons all of us to choose it every moment of every day (Deut. 30:19). Death is never the solution. Death by its very design is meant to be tragic, even going against our natural instincts to live; death is at odds with our own nature.
I don’t know what this article is going to do, or even it is going to make an impact. It is hard to condense what needs to be said, because there is much that we can say regarding suicide. But I want to appeal to you the reader, if you are contemplating suicide, please choose life. In the name of Christ, I promise you there is a better way. You are not alone, and you are not unloved. There are people that love you, more importantly there is a God in heaven who is there, to give hope, and what he gives, never disappoints. He is faithful and him who is calling you, will remain faithful forever (1 Thess. 5:24). Reach out for help, please.
Suicide is preventable and it is incumbent upon us to prevent it. Give hope and believe in hope, for the sake of yourself and for others around you.