On average, every 17 minutes in the United States, someone commits suicide. That amounts to 31,000 deaths each year, making suicide the second-leading cause of death in women ages 15 to 44, and the fourth-leading cause of death in similarly aged men.
That’s not all: “For every person who successfully kills himself, there are 50 to 60 unsuccessful attempts. An estimated 5 million Americans have tried suicide, this in the most prosperous country in the world!”
The picture is equally bleak among young people—suicide is the number two killer of people ages 10 to 19. Each year 250,000 teens attempt to kill themselves; 2,000 succeed. In the last 20 years, the suicide rate among children ages 10 to 14 has doubled.
What about you? Ever considered it?
Do you ever think, “Life isn’t worth living. No one understands me. My family would be better off without me.” If so, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one in four high school students thinks seriously about attempting suicide in any given year—and about one third of those actually try it.
Given these facts, let’s ask a few pointed questions.
Do you know why suicide is wrong? Some people believe it’s a person’s “right” to take their own life. That is not true—believe it or not!
Do you know what “happens” to you when you die? Are you absolutely “sure” your problems will go away if you kill yourself “or will they only be getting worse?”
Perhaps not you, but someone you know, has considered killing himself. Do you know how to recognize common warning signs? Would you be able to “help” your friend if you knew he or she was in danger?
What makes people want to kill themselves? For every problem there must be a cause—a reason.
One psychotherapist wrote this in a major Canadian newspaper: “All we can reasonably say is that the act of suicide is nobody’s fault—not the victim’s, not the family’s, not the stresses of a new baby, not the new job and not even the fickle lover whose heart has grown cold toward our desperate victim” (Michael Pare, Gazette[Montreal], Sept. 16, 2000).
That is false! Perhaps it is “uncomfortable” to pin blame on anyone over a tragic suicide—but there most certainly “is” blame to be assigned! How could murder, even if at the very hands of the victim, “be nobody’s fault?”
What would bring someone to the point of feeling that “death” was the only solution to his or her problems? Though there are many risk factors the basic underlying cause for suicide is an “inability to cope with failure.”
Everyone faces “failure” in life. It’s how we “deal” with it that matters. “Failure is part of growing up”—that is, “if” we learn from our failures and move on. Even if you have made the same mistake over and over, you can still learn from it, resolve to change, and grow from the experience. Especially if you have God’s help in doing so.
For example, a guy’s boss fires him and calls him the world’s worst employee. Rather than giving up, muttering “everybody hates me” and committing suicide, if he is emotionally healthy he learns from the experience and does something about it: “He tries to improve his work ethic and determines to give his next boss more for his money.”
It is important to realize that “feelings and circumstances do change.” The suicidal person believes there is “no hope” for an end to the problems he or she faces. But the fact is that “all problems have solutions.” Emotionally mature people look for the solution and determine to turn the failure into a success. They don’t let guilt or depression overwhelm them, but acknowledge their mistakes and try not to repeat them.
The person who chooses to deal with troubles in life by “ending that life” is meeting “failure with more failure!” Ultimately they will have only “themselves” to blame for it.
Notice what the Apostle Peter said about trials and troubles in I Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Everyone has problems—they are not unique to you!
But how should we deal with them? Peter continued in verse 13 “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” This is not the typical way to deal with trials!
Christ suffered “tremendously” in His life: persecution, loneliness, and, finally, a gruesome execution! But He endured it all and actually “rejoiced” in His trials, because He knew that if He overcame them, He had an awesome future awaiting Him! He had the hope of “eternal glory” at the forefront of His mind—a stark contrast to the “hopelessness” of a suicidal person.
Note this truth: You too have a potentially “awesome future before you!” It is much more real than you probably realize.
Some may think, “Wait a minute. My life is my own, isn’t it? I can take it if I want to.” Not only is that reasoning shockingly selfish, it is also false.
Granted, some pains in life can be almost unbearable. But think for a moment about your parents, who nurtured you in the womb, gave birth to you, nursed you, watched you grow, thought about your future and your potential, took care of you for years.
It is said that the death of a child is one of the most difficult pains a parent can endure. How much more unbearably painful would it be if that death came at the hand of their own child—who apparently believed life wasn’t even worth living?
Some young people commit suicide in a misguided effort to “alleviate” their parents’ problems. But their grisly action is “guaranteed” to have precisely the opposite effect! One doctor said that a person’s suicide invariably leaves “family members, friends and colleagues to deal with an almost unfathomable kind of loss, as well as guilt” (Kay Redfield Jamison, “Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide”).
The suicidal person must get his mind “off himself” and think on this for a moment. What parent “wouldn’t” ache with the most grievous loss and “guilt” over being unable to prevent their child from taking his own life? What true friend wouldn’t feel they had deeply failed that person?
Truly, suicide is the most “selfish act” a person can commit!
But the reasons why it is wrong don’t stop with your family and friends. You must also realize what God has invested in you and what you throw away in a suicide.
The great Creator God is the “giver” of all life. “Life” is the most precious, thrilling, exhilarating possession each of us has! It comes with challenge, adventure, opportunity, sorrows and joys, successes and failures—and, most importantly, incredible potential beyond description! God is supremely generous in granting you this special gift.
But while life is a free gift, it does come with some rules for its use!
Imagine you have received a brand new car from your parents—no strings attached. And yet, if you fail to insure it, or if you break traffic laws or get in a wreck, that gift can be suspended or taken away altogether!
Life is like that. There are laws that, if followed, will lead to many rewarding, fulfilling and ongoing “years” of life! But if they are broken, you are sure to suffer. “All” suffering and pain comes as a result of “broken law.”
It is easy to see this principle in the case of a physical law, like gravity: If you “break ” the law of gravity by jumping off a high building or bridge with nothing to stop your fall, you will suffer a debilitating or fatal collision with whatever lies below.
God ’s “spiritual” law, the law of love, encapsulated in the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20), is the same way: “If you lust, steal, lie or otherwise break any of the commandments, you are guaranteed to suffer!”
The plain, clear teaching of the Sixth Commandment is, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). That includes killing one “SELF!” God “forbids” it! Even “trying” to do so—in fact, even “dwelling” on thoughts of suicide—is breaking the spirit of this law of God!
That is the real reason why suicide is wrong!
Any way you look at it, suicide is a tragedy. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the person who makes that wrong choice. However, it is possible in many cases to spot someone who might be leaning in that direction—and to get them help before they make the ultimate mistake.
Can you recognize someone who may be suicidal? This is a very sensitive subject.
The kinds of things that might get someone thinking about suicide include: “depression, delinquency, drug abuse, social problems like a break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or social isolation, families disrupted by death, especially suicide, divorce, abuse and parental neglect.”
These kinds of traumas can begin to lead a person to feeling “hopeless about the future” which is the “real danger sign” that someone may be contemplating suicide. As said before, the suicidal person sees “no hope” for an end to his or her problems.
Some specific things that suggest suicide risk: “The person may withdraw, stop eating, have no energy, or develop an unusual preoccupation with death and dying, or firearms. They may give away their CDs or other personal possessions. Many suicidal people try to hurt themselves.”
They may say things like, “Goodbye, you won’t see me again”; “life isn’t worth living”; “I wonder who would come to my funeral”; “Sometimes I want to go to sleep and never wake up.” Or they may come right out with, “I think I’ll kill myself.” Don’t take such statements as kidding around. The person could be trying to send calls for help, even without realizing it consciously.
If you suspect someone you know might be at risk, it is important to get a trusted adult involved immediately. Tell your friend you are concerned about him or her. It would be a good idea, if possible, to send your friend a copy of this post.
The real tragedy of suicide is that it is an act of “hopelessness.”
But if you know the reason why God made you, if you are educated in what God wants to give you, if you understand what your future is, the awesome potential God has placed within you, there is “so much to hope for! So much to look forward to!”
Yes, the world has a lot of problems, and things can look pretty bleak. But it won’t be like this forever. At some point in the future God is going to step in and begin to rule the world with justice, mercy and righteousness!
And He needs “help” in doing so—from people who are practiced at “overcoming“ problems and trials, who have learned how to think beyond “themselves” and their own “selfish” concerns, who are willing and ready to work for the good of “all people”, using God’s spiritual law as their guide!