On August 11, 2023, the Associated Press released new data about the increasing suicide rate in our country.
“US suicides hit an all-time high last year.”
The AP article said that according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 49,449 deaths by suicide in 2022, an increase of 2.6% over 2021.
That’s staggering. That’s an average of 135+ suicides per day.
“Suicide is a global epidemic”
David H. Rosmarin, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of the Center for Anxiety, has written, “Suicide is a global epidemic: according to the World Health Organization, approximately 700,000 people take their own lives each year, which amounts to 1% of all global deaths annually.
“Suicide rates are particularly high in the United States, where it is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents and young adults (under age 35).”
Again, staggering statistics — statistics that should alarm everyone. As God’s children, we understand the sanctity of life, and that God is the giver of life, and that all life is precious. Death is the consequence of sin entering our world, and all death, under any circumstances, is grievous to us and to God. And death by suicide is so very sad. It is death that should not happen — and can be prevented.
David Brooks, in his article How America Got Mean, cites, “The percentage of high-school students who report “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” shot up from 26 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2021.” Another staggering statistic. It’s no wonder that the number of suicides are increasing, especially among adolescents and young adults.
Causes of Suicide
The CDC’s protective factors include, “religious objections to suicide.” in other words, believing that all murder, including killing oneself, is a sin. However, the CDC fails to mention a significant preventative factor: the role of FAIH, specifically, FAITH in God as He is revealed in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. More specifically, faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ — in who He is, what He has done, and who we are in Him. Such faith is the most significant protective factor to prevent the despair and hopelessness that can lead to suicide.
Faith and Hope
For believers, a strong faith can give hope, even when not feeling hopeful. Faith can take one back to the knowledge of the hope found in Christ, the promises He has given them, and the joy set before them. Faith with hope can refocus the “eyes” from the here and now to better days that will come.
Rosmarin, in his article titled “Why Religious Belief Provides a Real Buffer Against Suicide Risk,” wrote of a patient experiencing overwhelming trials who had great faith in God. Her faith informed her that whatever she was going through had purpose and meaning in God’s hands. With such faith, she believed that her trials would strengthen her and prepare her for the future — both for good times and times of difficulty. Finding purpose and meaning, and trusting God to work in all things (Rom 8:28), gave her hope — a hope to “look” forward, beyond her current circumstances to the one who has promised her joy to come.
Tribulation is Inevitable, Peace is Possible, and Joy is Promised
John 16:33″These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Luke 10:20 “… rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” John 10:28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
That’s what all who consider suicide need— a vision beyond their circumstances and greater than the despair they experience — a vision, looking to the One who can give them true hope.
Easier Said Than Done
“When you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Dr. Seuss got it right. In the depths of despair, even for Christians, vision can be clouded, knowledge can be suppressed, and emotions can control every thought and action. Looking beyond circumstances and feelings might seem impossible in the moment. But that is exactly the time when the mind must take control of the emotions. The knowledge of hope must take over, and a belief in that knowledge must prevail. But how is that done?
Prepare for Despair
Rom 5:3-4 …knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Unless someone has prepared their mind before troubling circumstances occur, knowledge can easily be overtaken by feelings of fear, hopelessness, and despair. That’s why we are told to renew our minds and be transformed in Christ rather than conform to this world (Romans 12:2).
When Afflictions Come, and Despair Overwhelms, Redirect Your Thoughts
2 Cor 10:4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
When Afflictions Come, and Despair Overwhelms, Review the Works of the Lord
Gal 4:4 -7 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
When Afflictions Come, and Despair Overwhelms, Reclaim the Promises of Jesus
In John 17, Jesus bequeathed seven gifts to those who come to Him in faith: 1. Eternal life; 2) His words; 3) His joy; 4) His protection; 5) His mission; 6) His glory,, and 7) His love. [A Room with A View of Eternity – The Last Will & Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ]
When Afflictions Come, and Despair Overwhelms, Remember the Words of Paul
Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Psa 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
Hope Looks Forward to Jesus
Heb 6:17-19 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,,,
Hope Looks Upward to Jesus
Heb 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…
Hope Looks Inward to Jesus
Col 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Have Hope and Give Hope
- “The word which the finger of God has inscribed upon the brow of every man — hope.” — Victor Hugo, from Les Misérables. one of the greatest stories of redemption,
Renew your mind in God’s Word. Warm your heart in His love. Strengthen your soul in Hope in Jesus. And “be ready always to give an answer to every man who asks you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Be ready to tell everyone about Jesus, our true Hope, who offers saving and sanctifying grace to all.
- Dr. Karl Menninger (July 22, 1893 – July 18, 1990), a notable 20th-century psychiatrist and founder of the Menninger Clinic, later called the Menninger Foundation, is quoted as having said, “Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (dial 988) or go to their website: 988lifeline.org.
If you are dealing with the grief of the death of a Christian by suicide, you can find comfort in this article: Is SUICIDE an Unforgivable Sin? The answer, of course, is NO. Jesus paid for all sins on the cross, and for those who are His, all their sins have been forgiven.
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