Suicide is. . .
“a sense of hopelessness or inescapability, combined with a pattern of poor coping, a limited tolerance, and a flight from help coalesce in some manner to form suicidal intent.” – Jeffery S. Black
That’s a dry definition of a loss that rips out the heart of loved ones left behind, isn’t it? Sometimes dry is all family and friends can handle in the wake of an avoidable and horribly tragic death. Here are quick facts to help you. If someone you know is suicidal now, get immediate help. Call 911.
Suicidal intent cannot be related to a single cause factor. Rather, it is the overflow of a number of other unresolved problems.
The person is hopeless that things can ever get better, and he lacks the coping skills to continue trying. Suicide feels like a better alternative at that time. Proverbs 14:12
- In 2006, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States (33,300 died out of 800,000-plus attempts), one every 16 minutes.
- Suicides outnumber homicides.
- More men than women die but more women then men attempt suicide.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death between the ages of 15-24 years.
- Half a million teenagers are reported to attempt suicide every year.
- More Vietnam vets have killed themselves since 1974 than actually died in combat.
- More than 5,000 seniors kill themselves annually.
Examples of Suicide in the Scriptures
Saul: for pride over losing a battle and fear of torture (1 Samuel 31:4).
Ahithophel: because his advice was rejected (2 Samuel 17:23).
Abimelech: he did not want it to be known that he was killed by a woman (Judges 9:50-55).
A Biblical Perspective on Suicide
- We are image bearers for God (Genesis 1:27; James 3:9).
- We are to honor the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
- Murder is condemned in Scripture (sixth commandment).
- God is sovereign over all life (Job 1:21).
- Suicidal intent is not the “unforgivable” sin.
- No human being can prevent suicide because of the free will of man to make such a choice.
What can you do to help?
Know the warning signs:
- Talk of suicide in general
- Specific verbal statements such as, “I wish I had never been born.”
- Preoccupation with death, terminal illness, graveyards, wills, burial plots etc.
- Giving away of valuable possessions, such as pets.
- Planning for the care of dependents.
- Change in eating, sleeping, or grooming habits.
- Sudden state of euphoria following a long depression: “calm before the storm.”
- Withdrawing from others or from favorite activities.
- A lack of fear of death, taking risks.
Even higher-risk indicators:
- History of drug, and or, alcohol use
- Victims of physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- Being investigated for criminal charges
- History of depression or other “mental health” issues
- Those who have previously attempted suicide
- A suicide survivor (when someone close has committed suicide)
- People who have perfectionist type personalities
- Those experiencing recent significant loss through death, divorce, or relationship break-up
- Childhood history of frequent moves
- Firstborn in families
Encourage the Person to Talk
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20, ESV)
Then move from asking general to specific questions to determine suicidal intent. The more detailed the plan and the more access they have to their method of choice, the more likely they will follow through.
Be compassionate; consider the depth of their pain and suffering. Remember suicide is not so much about wanting to die as it is not knowing how to live with the problem.
Get their perspective: Life without ______ is not worth living because_____?
Give them hope that there is a solution to what to them seems unsolvable (1 Cor. 10:13). You help them or take them to someone who can help find that solution.
Help them to see any influences from outside sources (music, friends, reading materials, etc.) that might be contributing to their hopelessness. Help the person realize that suicide is the ultimate act of self-love to avoid painful consequences.
Encourage them see that suffering is a part of God’s will to refine us in Christ, with the goal to change their focus from escape to contentment.
Continue to encourage them through church ministries, serving and being served (Gal. 6:1). If you have any doubt, ask to determine if they are actually saved and point them to hope through the Word.
Finally, Consider This
Talking to someone about their suicidal intent will not encourage them to attempt suicide. Instead, it typically communicates interest and hope because you cared enough to ask.
People who have suicidal intent will usually not try and hide it from others. You just need to be willing to ask. Trust God to use you as His Instrument of Hope to someone who needs help!
Be a Good Samaritan
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds,pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37, ESV).
Get help! Do you know someone who may be suicidal? Do not hesitate to call 911. Want more information about suicide? Please contact us.