Suicide; A Loss of Hope Part 3- It’s Personal

In Part 1 of this post I wrote about the challenge of hopelessness and how it can lead to suicidal thoughts and even suicide itself. Part 2 explored the Biblical and traditional Christian views of suicide, ending with the understanding that God is always on the side of the suffering and the victim. Part 3 is a more personal reflection on my own challenges with suicidal thoughts as a teenager and why I made the choices I did.

I would never say that suicide is right or ok, it is not. I look for a day when all people are so filled with the love of God, and hope for their precious God-given life, that there are no more suicides. But the false “Christian” approach of fear and condemnation does not help bring us closer to that day.  Telling someone not to commit suicide because they will go to hell makes very little difference because most people contemplating suicide already feel like they are in hell.  Telling the family or friends of a suicide victim that their precious child or parent, cousin or sibling is in hell does not bring hope and the love of God, it brings fear and sadness and pain.  We must understand that as Christians all we have to offer is faith, hope and love.  A disciples duty is not to judge, it is to suffer with and show the suffering the way back to life. If you are a parent talk to your children about suicide, give them the wisdom of your years. Do not believe the myth that talking about suicide will make it happen. Just the opposite is more likely true. Suicide thrives in secret. If you know of someone contemplating suicide, do not keep silent or keep their secret.  If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a suicide prevention hotline, call a social worker, pastor, teacher or other trained person. Get help for your suffering friend or family member.  You may not be able to solve their problems but you can give them light and share your hope for their life.

When I was presenting this program in Rehoboth I was told by one of the participants that “we talk too much about love and grace, we need more judgement.”  While I respect his right to have an opinion it is not an opinion I share. We can never talk too much about grace and love, because that is what saves us, it is who we are it is Christian DNA. Without the grace and mercy and love of God none of us has a chance.  I speak as one who knows this dark path. When I was in 10th grade I seriously contemplated suicide. I got to the point of making a plan and starting to implement it and I sat and thought about what the end of my life would mean. For some reason the words of a dear youth leader came into my mind. Just a week before he had given me a passage of scripture that would forever change my path; Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” Good News Bible. It occurred to me that I was worried about things in my life that might never come to pass. I was sure that the rest of my days were going to be filled with the same pain I was feeling at that moment.  But something about that passage of scripture made me stop and think. “Today does not have to be the last day of my life, there is a tomorrow, and another after that. Each day brings new opportunities.”  Standing at the bottom of a deep, dark pit I saw a small ray of light and that light became my guide to come out of that place.  Until you have stood in that place you can never know the darkness and hopelessness it brings, but I am here to be a witness to the light and the possibilities of life.

I want to end this piece with a word directly to all those who may be contemplating suicide.  Please remember this, you have been created by a God who loves you more than you can ever imagine, no matter what you may have done or the problems you might have God loves you. You were created as a one of a kind gift to the world and sometimes it takes time to know how that gift will be shared. There is nothing in this world that is important enough to kill yourself over, no amount of money, no girl or boy, no problem that is more important than you.  Although the way may seem dark and your troubles overwhelming please reach out to someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). Know that there are professionals who can help you deal with depression and addiction, know that there are people who are praying for you every day, whether you know it or not.  These people want you to live to know your full potential, so that you can feel the joy of life again.  I have stood in a place similar to where you stand and my message is simple, there is more to your life than one day, one week or one month and nothing is worth taking your own life. Your potential is unlimited, and the possibilities for your life are endless.

About fatherjeremy

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Oregon. I am currently the rector of Christ Church, Lake Oswego, OR
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