This is one of the most difficult subjects that I have written about, but I believe that I need to try to tackle this.
I dealt with suicide as a firefighter, and I deal with it as a pastor too. Suicide is a major issue in America. Statistics from the National Institutes of Health state the following from 2016:
•Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S., claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
•Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.
•Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages 35 and 54.
•There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the U.S. than homicides (19,362).
Families across America have been touched by suicide in some way or another. If you call the VA hospital in our area, you are asked if you are contemplating suicide and, if so, directed to call a different number.
Let me stop and ask, are you considering suicide right this moment? If so, I beg you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. This is a 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week lifeline.
We have come to the point that we cannot dance around this issue. We must boldly ask people who are in crisis if they are considering suicide. If a person says “yes,” we must take this very seriously.
What about the person who is not in crisis? These cases are much more difficult to figure out. It is something that most people will not talk about. It may be time to start asking people whom we treat, counsel or hang out with whether they are contemplating suicide.
To the person contemplating suicide, let me remind you what you will be leaving behind. The first thing you leave behind are people who love and care about you. Your family and friends will have to grieve, not only your death, but also the feelings of: what did I miss? Could I have stopped this?
You are also leaving behind the life that God intended for you. I have been asked, is suicide a sin? The answer is yes. We are all created in the image of God and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We do not have the right to take our life or the life of anyone else.
I am not an expert on this subject, but I have been touched and affected by people who have chosen to take their own lives. Your life matters!
Please seek help when you are struggling. If you know of someone who has attempted suicide, the chances are great the person will keep trying until successful.
It may be necessary to remove the means that people use to attempt suicide. Sadly, people set on doing it will figure out ways to accomplish the act unless they get the help that they need.
This is a difficult subject, but we must be willing to talk about it. We need to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we need to love ourselves. God loves every one of us.