Suicide…there…I said it. None of us want to use that word, there is a certain stigma attached to it. Suicide is not my favorite subject, though it is something that I have thought about before. This is National Suicide Prevention Week, and National Suicide Prevention Month, so in spite of the stigma, and though I am certainly not an expert on the subject, I’m going to write about it in today’s article.

Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013 (the latest year that all the data is in). There were 41,149 suicides in 2013 in the United States—a rate of 12.6 per 100,000 is equal to 113 suicides each day or one every 13 minutes. Suicide results in an estimated $51 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.
— Centers for Disease Control

I think the first time that I was forced to think about suicide was during a phone call when I was in my first year of ministry and my second year of Bible College. It was in the middle of the night and I had no idea of what to say. I stammered and stuttered quite a lot. Since that phone call in the wee hours of the morning I have become comfortable discussing suicide. I have learned that it’s better to get the subject out into the light of day. The fact is that a large number of people have thought about taking their lives, too many have died at their own hands, and more have attempted suicide without completing it.

I have sat with families in hospital waiting rooms, in funeral homes, and at gravesides as they dealt with the grief of losing a loved one to suicide.  There seems to be a great battle going on today between dark and light, and according to statistics, in less than the time it took you to get ready for work this morning, someone in our country has taken their life.

A textbook from the American Association of Christian Counselors says that an estimated 90% of those who complete suicide have a treatable mental illness at the time of their deaths. Major depression, Bipolar disorder, Substance abuse, Personality Disorders, Chronic or Terminal Medical conditions all raise the risk for suicide. Family history of suicide attempts and personal history of attempts also adds risk.

Suicide is not foreign to the scriptures. Abimelech took his life in a time of personal crisis (Judges 9:52-54). Samson died at his own hands for a cause that he believed in (Judges 16:25-30). King Saul avoided capture by taking his own life (1 Samuel 31:4). King Saul’s armor bearer followed the example of the King (1 Samuel 31:5). Ahithophel let bitterness and depression overcome him (2 Samuel 17:23). Job’s wife actually encouraged her husband, “just curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Job didn’t and I hope you won’t.

Depression, failure at life, and lack of hope can drive us to the brink of suicide. If you are reading this today, there can be hope. Can we talk? My phone number is 479-228-7652, and you can call anytime that you need to talk…especially if you need to talk about life and death. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273 TALK (8255) provides access to trained telephone counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’m not sure how to end an article on a subject as heavy as this one, so let me just say…see you next week?