Tag Archives: suicide

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.


  • 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

Meyer Minute Suicide in the world, those who see no other way Nov 5

This subject is vitally important and Rev Dr Dale Meyer really hits it on the head. The rate of suicide is climbing, especially in terms of middle aged people, although it is one of the leading causes of death for those under 30. Of all the ways to die, suicide is clearly the most controllable and in Jesus it is even more so. The hope of the world is Jesus and we trust what He is doing in our life. We may not like the way our life is going, we probably think we have a better plan, but we trust that in the end Jesus’ plan is much better and it always is. Rev Dr Dale Meyer is the president of Concordia Seminary, he was the voice of Lutheran Hour Ministries.
Dale Meyer

Meyer Minute for November 5

When Charles Gliniewicz was killed on duty in northern Illinois, an extensive manhunt searched for the cop killer. Yesterday: “This investigation has concluded…that this is a carefully staged suicide. He had been stealing and laundering money from Fox Lake” (Wall Street Journal, November 5; A6). Gliniewicz concluded that suicide was his only way out.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams committed suicide in August 2014. Recently his widow Susan said that he struggled with depression, Parkinson’s, and Lewy body dementia, an illness that leads to declining mental ability (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 4; A18). Again but for different reasons, Mr. Williams saw no way out.

“Death rates are rising for middle-aged white Americans, while declining in other wealthy countries and among other races and ethnicities. The rise appears to be driven by suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse” (New York Times, November 3; A15).

Whatever sad reasons lead someone to choose death, suicide goes directly against the God who gives life and promises hope (Psalm 42:11). “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). So it’s a sin against God but a sin for which Jesus died. While God only knows the eternal destiny of the suicide, we who survive can know suicide is temptation to be avoided, by you, by me, and by those around us. Easily said, but overcoming the temptation when you’re in emotional or physical despair seems insurmountable. Each of us in our individual and sometimes lonely lives needs to be in a safe place where support and love are dependably present to help us overcome the temptation. Does our family, our congregation and our presence at work and in community promote a culture that cares for the weakest? Even if we do, sin is so insidious that all of us can rely on only one guarantee.

“When the righteous cry out for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:17-19).

“When all things seem against us, to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer” (Lutheran Service Book, 915, 4). God, help us all.

U.S. suicide rates rise sharply article by Tara Parker-Pope New York Times May 2, 2013 as quoted in Leadership Journal Summer 2013

This article really hit home with me because what of suicide means to me as a Christian and especially in terms of the fact that the group most affected, is becoming most likely to commit suicide are men in their 50s, like me.

So what’s the difference? Clearly as a Christian, as a pastor, I see suicide as the final act of those who are hopeless, who see nothing else left to live for and so chose to stop.

Why men in their 50’s? Parker-Pope points out factors such as economic, availability of prescription painkillers. That might accelerate the process, but, in my opinion, that’s not the core issue. As a Christian my faith is in the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ, my hope is in Him only, not in the economy, my expectations, what other people think etc. She does go on to point out that “…it hinted that deeper issues like failed expectations and a loss of hope might be a root cause.” She quotes “Dr Julie Philips, a researcher from Rutgers: ‘The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but … It hasn’t turned out that way.'” She goes on to say that future generations will be facing the same situation.

I can certainly speak as being part of that demographic and can relate. Twenty five years ago I finally finished my business degree working for Motorola and there was no doubt in my mind that I was finally on my way to at least being a CFO for, at least, a mid-cap company. If you had told me that I would be a Lutheran pastor in York, Pa., I would probably have suggested that they might cut out smoking, drinking whatever was messing with their mind.

Middle aged men today have become all about their job, achievements, their house, their car, well you get it. That’s it, their total investment is in how they amass money/ things. I hear it constantly from men “oh yeah, I don’t need church, blah, blah,” and they will spout some inane nonsense about how they know it all, don’t need none of that, again blah, blah. The more they talk, the more obvious they don’t know what they’re talking about. But hey I will concede that the church has gone out of it’s way to make itself less relevant to men. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the job, making money etc.

In addition to not needing church, don’t need government, because they’re all crooks, doesn’t make a difference, again blah, blah. Men aren’t getting educations because it doesn’t make a difference, the only thing that makes a difference is how much money, the quality of their possessions. Men in their 50’s are statistically supposed to be at the peak of their earning, on their way to having a nice easy retirement etc, etc. The reality is that most are finding that is not going to be the case, that they haven’t achieved what they thought they were supposed to and everything that they’ve pinned their hope on is simply not going to happen. Their hope is gone, the supposed promise of the American Dream is simply not going to happen.

Let’s cut to the chase, yes of course each of us is responsible for running our life, but we need to realize that it’s not about what we ultimately do, it’s what God guides us to do. I had a certain set of expectations, but I was clearly led by God to be where I am now and there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s much more to come. It may be where I’m at, or something entirely new, but when I look back on my life I have no doubt as to who was guiding it. I’m not saying that I’m somehow “chosen” I’m not saying that I’m any kind of special case at all. I am saying that if more people, not just men, trusted in what God was doing and quit trying to live by their own expectations, they would find life to be a more of an adventure, a lot more fulfilling, more authentic and in the end? Maybe not the big bank account, big house etc. But knowing that they have lived according to God’s will, they’ve lived the life that God guided them in and in terms of living their true life, in the resurrection, they will be blessed and yes, the building treasure in heaven that Jesus makes many references to.

Space and inclination don’t permit me to get into a discussion of suicide, but it’s God who gives us life and it’s His decision what happens and when He decides to call us home, suicide is never the solution in any respect. Pride, anger, disappointment are not acceptable, but in a society where we have this idea that it’s all about us and we can do what we want, when we want, well God is simply not going to bless that.

It’s way past time for us all to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and trust in the hope and promises of the Bible, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are responsible for the conduct of our life, but that responsibility is realized when we trust in what God is doing in our life and not our own desires and expectations.