It is with much hesitation that we publish this article. We hesitate because we know that the pain is so very real and so acute. Still, with hesitation, we offer it to you because every suicide prevention training that we have had says, “LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE.”
At the end of the article is the true story of one from our own community. It is the story of a SUICIDE SURVIVOR…not a survivor of an attempted suicide, which is different. This person has had two people very, very close to her that took their own lives. So, only read that story with a warning.
Her message is that only God has gotten her through this, and if you are considering suicide…PLEASE, LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE
After a person has taken their life we often ask ourselves, “WHY?” When we are talking with a depressed friend or family member, why is it hard to ask, “Are you thinking about taking your life?” It is estimated that for every suicide 6 “loss survivors” experience a major life disruption. So if a suicide is completed once every 11.7 minutes, at least 6 people are hurting, and experiencing a major life disruption every 11.7 minutes. We are quickly coming to the place where one of the most preventable reasons for death, suicide, is becoming the fastest growing cause of death in the USA.
Maybe an easier way to talk about a difficult subject is to look at the numbers. According to information gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and published by the American Association of Suicidology:
In 2016, the latest year we have information for, 44,965 people killed themselves.
That equals 122.9 persons per day, a rate of 13.9 people per 100,000 population.
It means that 1 person every 11.7 minutes killed themselves.
If you look at the number of males, it comes up to 21.8 per 100,000.
Suicide is the 10th ranking cause of death in the United States, homicides are 16th.
It is estimated that suicide attempts reached 1,124,125 or one attempt every 28 seconds.
More police officers and firefighters died of suicide last year than in the line-of-duty.
Oklahoma has the 7th highest rate of suicide deaths at 21.0 per 100,000.
Arkansas ties with Missouri for 14th at 18.6 per 100,000.
Pennsylvania is much lower in 27th place at 15.4 per 100,000.
New Jersey is next to last with 7.7 per 100,000.
So, let’s talk about suicide.
What can we do to reduce suicide in our country…in our state…in our families?
We can inform ourselves about suicide.
We can talk about it.
1-800-273 TALK (8255)
The vocations most affected by suicide surprised me. Farming, fishing, and forestry are the leaders in suicide rates. Studies show that those who are most isolated and have fewest people around them, are at highest risk for taking their own lives.
According to the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, the credit for the reduction of suicide in the UK has been a result of talking about suicide to reduce the stigma. Here are the headlines of the articles:
Everybody has a role to play in preventing suicide
Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide.
More police officers and firefighters died of suicide last year than in the line-of-duty.
A jarring statistic that continues to plague first responders but garners little attention.
Change of Terminology for Suicide
Mental health advocates use the words 'died by suicide' instead of committed suicide.
Suicide rates rising across the U.S.
“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,”
Suicide rate among UK men at lowest since 1981
Reducing stigma around men's mental health and encouraging men to open up and seek help when they are struggling has been beneficial.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
You may ask, “What does the Bible say about suicide?” As near as I can tell there are seven different accounts in the Bible of those who took their own lives:
King Saul – (1 Sam. 31:3-5)
Armor-bearer to Saul – (1 Sam. 31:5)
Samson – (Judges 16:25-30)
Abimelech –(Judges 9:50-55)
Ahithophel – (2 Samuel 17:23)
Zimri – (1 Kings 16:15-20)
Judas – (Matt. 27:3-4)
I have read these passages and do not find that the Bible condones suicide, nor does it specifically condemn suicide. Taking of an innocent life is condemned, and only in that sense is suicide condemned. So, does suicide condemn one’s soul to hell? I find only one unforgiveable sin, that of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I realize that different theological perspectives see blasphemy of the Holy Spirit differently, but I fail to see how suicide can be considered blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
However you look at suicide it is both tragic and complex, and there can be no simple easy “fix” to the problem of suicide.
SUICIDE SURVIVOR STORY
There is great value in understanding the statistics regarding suicide, but it is also important for us to hear a story from someone who is a suicide survivor. Please take a minute as one of our Simmons team members, Tammy, bravely and openly shares her story…
My journey started when Cody, 26 years old, took his life on Dec. 8, 2011. He was my son, a brother, daddy of four, a widower (he had lost his wife six months prior), and last but not least, a friend to many. Cody suffered from severe depression as well as addiction. He didn’t feel the need to get counseling or seek any help. He was sure he could overcome it on his own.
If you have depression please get help. There is nothing wrong with asking. Life can be really tough sometimes and people handle things very different. I know without a doubt that Cody didn’t think there was any other way out.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” | Philippians 4:13
I use this probably more that any other verse. It has always been my favorite and helped me through many trials.
Cody left behind four kids under the age of 9. They had lost their momma six month prior in a tragic accident. We (my husband and I) went through many nights of kids crying. The could not understand why they didn’t have their parents to tuck them in or talk to them.
The girls were so young. They didn’t say a lot in the first couple years. Mainly crying and asking for mom or dad was our every night thing. Of course, bedtime was our worst time since there was time to lay still and think. For several months, it was often. Then it would be a week in between. Then maybe a month. I have been asked many questions that I couldn’t even answer.
As we get closer to birthdays, I know they want so much for mom and dad to be at a birthday party and know how big they are. The boys are a bit older and had their times as well but could at least talk and ask questions. There are lots of times they just wanted the comfort of mom or dad hugs. Times when they wanted mom or dad to see their soccer game.
I know without a doubt that if Cody had been able to foresee what his kids have gone through he would have never taken his life.
As a mother, losing a child it is the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life. Having to watch your other child grieve as well has been so hard. Casey will forever grieve for his brother. They lived next to each other—life will never be the same for him. Casey’s kids were the apple in Cody’s eye as well. They miss their Uncle Cody so bad. Cody never got to meet the other two of his nieces. But believe me, they know about him. Casey and Mandi have stepped in and helped to raise his brothers kids, honestly not sure what I would do without them. They do Father-Daughter dances, ball games, bowling, as well as help get them to and from school. God placed them right where he wanted them
In between caring for grieving kids, my husband and I lost some time to grieve for ourselves on many occasions We had some counseling, but probably not enough.
In March of 2014, my husband of 34 years took his life My world once again came tumbling down. Our kids that had just settled into living with only Poppy and Grandma were devastated when they lost their Poppy. You see Poppy wasn’t only a Poppy. He was their friend. He played trains in the floor, he played hide and seek in the house, he taught them how to bottle feed calves - and that is just a few of the fun things Poppy would do with our grands!
Mike and I were teenage sweethearts and we were also supposed to grow old together.
I can’t even begin to tell you everything that happened after that, I had just lost my best friend. My husband. My kids’ father and my grandkids’ Poppy. How could we ever make it through this?
I can tell you the only way we made it was God, Our Father.
I also would like to let anyone that might be thinking about suicide to please realize that reaching out to God our Savior is the answer for anything and everything. Don’t ever let yourself think that there is no other way...There is always another way. I can assure you that if Cody or Michael knew everything that has gone on with family and friends they would rethink their decision.
Our God created you and He doesn’t make mistakes. Not even 1.
"With God all things are possible..." | Matthew 19:26
- Tammy Jenks