Suicide, please, please don’t

For the suicide prevention hot line Call 800-273-8255 or you can Text 273TALK to 839863

This has been pushing on me for a while now. As a police chaplain I have had to minister to the families of a total of 4 suicides, 3 in the last 4 months. In addition it seems as though it comes up over and over. I get it, I really do. There are times when it just seems really hopeless.

As a police chaplain I have a very unique perspective in regard to a suicide. I spent 29 years in the Coast Guard, I’ve had to deal with death in so many forms. The difference between an accidental death, a person who dies after a long and loving life and the person who chooses to end their end life is enormous.

The scene of a suicide and yes that includes things like heroin overdoses, which I’ve also had my share of, is absolutely horrific. A Christian man or woman who’s had a good life, surrounded by family, friends, with the promise of Christ, the promise of new life in the resurrection, I’m not going to say it’s pleasant, it’s not, but there is an entirely different atmosphere. It’s been a good life (and that doesn’t mean it has to be great or without difficulties, every life has difficulties). The person was faithful, they lived their life guided by the Holy Spirit, I can tell the people there, there’s no doubt that person is in the presence of the Lord.

The horrific contrast to that is the death of someone who committed suicide. I’m not going to name names, or do anything that would violate the seal of the confessional (ever, God willing), but I can speak in generalities and there is nothing whatsoever pleasant or this goofy romanticism that has crept into the subject of suicide. It’s horrible. You either have a very few, sometimes 1 or 2 people survivors, and all of a sudden they have to deal with this horrific scene, that someone they cared for, in their household, took their own life. Have you ever dealt with someone who died violently? I doubt you have. Why on earth would you want to inflict that on someone, anyone, especially a member of your family? I’m not going to be graphic about it, frankly I just can’t bring myself to do it. But if you have some goofy idea that it’s somehow like in the funeral home the person who has died is in this pristine setting, you are just so horribly wrong. Finding someone who just committed suicide is a devastatingly traumatic impact on that person. They will never forget the scene they had to deal with. You want to talk about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? There you have it. Use your own imagination who is it that might find you? Do you really want to inflict that on that person?  I will answer that for you. No matter how much you may want to hurt, push back, punish someone, if you knew the actual result, you wouldn’t do this to your worst enemy. Trust me you just wouldn’t.

There are so many better ways to move on in your life, there really are, please let me or someone you trust help you. I know I’m going to get this pooh-pooh thing from people, “what do you know Jim?” But there is one thing I can offer to you. We do have one God, the only God, God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Despite the other opinions and other uninformed or others unthought out talk (and that’s just what it is), God the Father of Jesus, true God, really does love you and really wants the best for you and does not want you to hurt yourself. He made you, He really wants what is best for you. Unlike other beliefs, suicide as a Christian is never acceptable. The only exception is, as Jesus did, you genuinely directly sacrifice yourself to save another. If you’re a firefighter and rush into a house to save someone, if you throw yourself on a grenade to keep others from being killed, if you sacrifice your life to give birth (either in terms of how your life will change, or literally) then that is commendable, it is not suicide. Jesus said  ESV John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” Jesus laid down His life for all of us to give us the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. Unless you can justify hurting yourself in terms of actually, physically protecting another don’t. Please I really am begging you, don’t.

The surviving person(s) has now been handed a whole, incredible, devastating  traumatic situation that they are always, just not capable of handling. When I say that, I mean handling on so many levels. The guilt is usually devastating. You have people who are just crushed that they could have done something to prevent this. You know they couldn’t have, but they are going to feel that way and they are going to feel that way for an awfully long time, often their entire life. That person’s world has just fallen in because of this. All of a sudden they have to deal with police, coroner, funeral home and quite often they do it all by themselves or with close family. Other deaths, people will jump to serve those who have had a loved one die. Suicide? People are going to avoid helping and even in the future, discussing it with the survivors. It is still just a horrible thing to have to deal with, especially if you don’t have to, it’s not their chaos to deal with. That may be cold-hearted, but imagine if someone you knew committed suicide? You’re just not going to want to get involved. Let’s face it in today’s world, people aren’t going to get involved if they don’t have to especially under these circumstances.

As a police chaplain I’ve been called in to temporarily minister to a survivor(s). I try to with all my heart. As best I can I try to empathize with the pain of that parent, spouse, brother, sister, child. In addition to everything else they are thinking: “What is my future going to be without my husband or my parent or child? If I depend on this person, how is my world going to change?” As best as I can, I know in my heart I can’t begin to reach the depth of grief, guilt and other emotions crashing in on that person. But I also have to help this person deal with this catastrophic, unanticipated situation in another way. The reality is that the remains of a human being are in their home. They have to make a decision then and there what will be done with that person. In a lot of cases, especially when it’s someone who is young, that person hasn’t made any arrangements for their death. I have to help them figure out in a very short time how this will be handled, how this will be paid for, what has to happen in the next few days. Again why would anyone cause this to be inflicted on another person? But all of a sudden they have to make decisions like this and usually they are completely unprepared and very afraid.

I’m not some kind of expert, I’m not trying to play God, I never want to have to deal with this situation again as long as I live. All I can tell you is the immediate result of someone taking their life has incredibly traumatic effect on people who I’m sure you never intended to hurt, but they will suffer incredibly if you hurt yourself.

I have had this discussion with other concerned people, we all agree if someone came to us and said suicide was on their mind, they would drop whatever they were doing and jump through hoops to help you. I’m the pastor of First Saint Johns Church in downtown York. You can stop and visit, 140 W King St. the phone number is 717.843.8597  I will jump through hoops to do what I can. Yea, ok, it may be awkward, embarrassing, uncomfortable, but it just is nothing compared to the way it would be if you did kill yourself. You may doubt it at times, but God really does love you. He created you, He has kept you going, and He has a great promise of true life for you that Jesus died for you, so that you won’t have to suffer. I get it, life can be tough, it can be really unpleasant, you can go through a lot of needless grief. Believe it or not, I truly understand. But God is there for you. He’s given you people like me as a trained, experienced pastor to help you. He gives you great brothers and sisters in Jesus who can also help you, THEY WANT TO HELP YOU! Don’t believe it? Try me! 

As I’ve said I have had to deal with the devastation suicide can cause for people you really do care about. You really don’t want to do that. Please, there are so many people who really do want to help you work through things, please let them do it. Years from now you will look back and praise and thank God that He gave you people who were there for you. But don’t pull away, don’t isolate yourself. People do pull away from those who can help, it’s not smart, it’s not healthy, it just won’t help. I hear the bitter, fist waving all the time. Are other people at fault at times that hurt you? Yes, there are. It happens to people all the time. Do you really want to inflict that hurt and pain on others who would have done anything they could to help you? Who have been there for you? Despite everything, you know that there are people who do want to help you, to make sure you’re safe? Please let them do that, I really am begging you from my heart. I want to meet and talk with you, I don’t want to meet your grieving relatives. Please take time, pray, really reach out to God, let Him comfort you and then get hold of me, or any of the many people you know who would want to be there for you. May God strengthen, bless and comfort you in Jesus.

SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

link for “Lines for Life”   https://www.linesforlife.org/get-help-now/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw-ezKBRCGwqyK0rHzmvkBEiQAu-_-LGq6i3BjmZDuaYcm6nkxHal_BRphCkhu7Dri_QwEqKUaAuop8P8HAQ

For the suicide prevention hot line Call 800-273-8255 or you can Text 273TALK to 839863

One thought on “Suicide, please, please don’t

  1. Pingback: Suicide, please, please don’t | Pastor Jim Driskell

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