September 2020 – “These are unprecedented times,” warned an international group of suicide experts in a medical journal commentary in The Lancet Psychiatry. “The pandemic will cause distress and leave many people vulnerable to mental health problems and suicidal behavior.”
Pandemic? What about the riots and chaos of CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) in Seattle and similar violence in other major cities? What about the 2020 election? What about people’s personal experiences in this chaos? What of media influences such as 13 Reasons Why, which idealize Suicide?
Depression affects 20-25% of Americans during a normal year. 2020 hasn’t been normal. Yes, times are tough, but people are tougher. Or are they? The answer is, sometimes yes, sometimes no, even when speaking of one individual.
For instance, the prophet Elijah had a great victory with God. Yet when Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, he ran away in fear. When he stopped running, he prayed, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life for I’m no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4b, CSB). He rested instead, and God provided good food with more sleep along with a reality check about who He is and Elijah’s situation from His perspective (1 Kings 18:20-19:18).
Even prophets of God can feel like giving up.
The cost of suicide
National Suicide Prevention week is September 6-12, 2020. Suicide is a worldwide issue with one person committing suicide on average every 40 seconds.
Unfortunately, numbers about suicide can seem impersonal. But each number represents a real person. Columbia University research indicates the average American knows 600 people; thus, one person’s suicide has a far-reaching effect that can harm, haunt, and hurt decades later.
The following statistics on suicide in the U.S. are an eye-opening revelation that presses on the heart. They hide the tears, the questions, and much more.
• Overall, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.
• The nation has an average of one suicide every 12 minutes.
• For ages 10-24, suicide is the No. 2 cause of death.
• Twenty-two U.S. veterans commit suicide per day at a rate 1.3 times higher for men and 2.2 times higher for women versus those who have not served in the military.
• Suicide among males is four times higher than among females with males representing 79% of all suicides.
• Females, who are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide three times as often as males do.
• Suicide attempts have survivors – an estimated 250,000 each year.
• More than one in three people who die from suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time
• There is one suicide for every four suicide attempts among the elderly.
While the above statistics from the Jason Foundation, save.org, and Veterans Administration are sobering, they can’t express the anguish of losing someone to suicide or the anguish of someone considering suicide.
It should not seem odd that those who are weary of the grind of life seek the church. After all, Jesus said, “Come to me, you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The verses following remind all to take His yoke and learn from Him, to find rest for their souls. For those afraid of the discipline of the yoke, He added, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light (v. 30).”
Jesus provides more than just hope and help beyond these tough times. He offers eternal life.
Find hope, victory over suicide
▶ National Suicide Hotline: 800.273.TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
▶ Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:
• 888.388.2683 (24-hour prayer line)
• goingfarther.net (life issues tab)
▶ nami.org (National Alliance on Mental Illness)