Wednesday night I guested with our youth to discuss Suicide. What prompted this talk was the recent thread of teen suicides in the Austin area and some other personal challenges in the Restoration community that I had been made aware of.
Wednesday was also part of a series the youth have been doing called “My Story” during which some of our leaders have been coming forward to share their stories of how they found faith in Christ. All of this came together as part of my story includes a struggle with suicidal thoughts that the Lord has restored in my heart for good.
I began by sharing a story that I’ve never shared before. It was one evening when I was in 7th grade. I had bad skin and bad grades and (what felt like) no prospects for a good future. I was overwhelmed by voices that were calling to end my own life and an opportunity presented itself… I was right on the edge…
I remember walking away unable to do it and even that felt like I was again a failure.
We also talked about suicide as it appears in scripture. There are a few occasions where it would appear that someone is taking their own live, often they are already mortally wounded as in the case of King Saul who is already mortally wounded when he falls on his own sword. Would Judas’ taking of his own life out of remorse be the most significant moment of suicide shown in the Bible? What about Adam and Eve who so desire that fruit that they choose death over obedience?
You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
Ever since that day, death has haunted everyone. We fear it and we romance about it.
- Suicide remains the 3rd leading cause of death for teenagers.
- 1 in 25 young people will try to end their own lives.
- Girls are 2x more likely to attempt.
I spent about 2 years as a volunteer on a crisis hotline and here are some things to look for if you suspect someone you know may be feeling haunted by thoughts…
“At Risk” means that you should talk to a parent, leader or pastor to discuss how we can intercede.
“Probable” means that intervention is no longer an option. If someone is manifesting these signs then call someone immediately!
How do we speak the story of hope into someone who is haunted by thoughts of suicide. Again, if they are “at risk” or “probable” words need to be accompanied by actions—get an adult involved right away. But where there is general depression or dissatisfaction with life, or a sense of meaninglessness, this makes sense in the Story and in my story…
Though I survived other nights like that one when I was in 7th grade, and went on to make myself a reasonably successful person, I never could completely free myself of those feelings of deep insecurity and failure. Often in my young adult life I would be overwhelmed with feelings to seek relief from the pressure and pain of this world. These feelings encouraged me to choose pretty destructive paths such as substance abuse and surface relationships.
Once again, after a significant failure, I found myself facing that same temptation for death. Like Eve in the garden, I was listen to the voices that were tempting me to take of the forbidden fruit for which I would know death. In one season like that I was having lunch with a coworker who knew the love of Jesus and the power He has to bring life out from death.
Over time, because of a gentle witness and more importantly the work of the Spirit in my heart, I was able to make sense of those feelings that were calling to end my own life. So I did it…
I ended my own life on August 21st, 1998 at 9:22pm…and gave it fully over to Christ. In Romans 6, we are shown that to experience a new life in Him, we first walk with Jesus in pattern with His death.
The feelings of suicide are distortions of the reality that life in this world isn’t what it should be for us. And that we’re incomplete, meaningless and destined toward death unless we take the offer of new and eternal life given to us in Christ, who sacrificed His own life so that we could be reborn in Him.