Help! My Friend is Suicidal Interview

April 17, 2013

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The BCC Author Interview Q & A with Bruce Ray

As part of our BCC vision, we want to help you to get to know gifted Christian authors and their books. This week we’re highlighting Bruce Ray as he talks about his new e-Book Help! My Friend is Suicidal, which is part of the Help! mini-book series edited by Dr. Paul Tautges.

BCC: “Bruce, thank you for joining us. Please tell our readers how you got started as an author.”

BR: “I have always enjoyed writing, but I never seriously thought about writing a book until I was taking a class taught by Dr. Jay Adams in the early 1970s. I was very dissatisfied with the introduction to psychology and counseling that I had received in college, but I couldn’t identify why until I read Adams’ groundbreaking book Competent to Counsel (1970). That book, and subsequent titles written by Jay, radically transformed my thinking about psychology and pastoral counseling and cemented my confidence in the Word of God for personal ministry.

He challenged us as young pastors to take biblical principles and flesh-out their application to contemporary issues for today’s world. With Jay’s encouragement, I took a series of messages that I had preached on biblical principles of child-rearing to my congregation of young parents and it became Withhold Not Correction (first published in 1973). Jay Adams wrote the introduction. He jotted it down in his own handwriting on some cards while traveling that I still have among my prized possessions. That same year I wrote a booklet on abortion for Delaware Right to Life titled The Helpless Die Young.  More recently, I wrote Celebrating the Sabbath.”

BCC: “What motivated you to write about suicide?”

BR: “I am pastor of a church, and with the church’s support and encouragement my primary outreach into the community is as a police and fire chaplain. For almost 25 years I have been responding to every kind of call you can imagine, including suicides, homicides, traumatic deaths and unattended natural deaths—hundreds of deaths. I have learned a lot about suicide and suicidal subjects from my experiences in the field. For several years I have been speaking to emergency responders, pastors, pastoral students, Christian counselors and church members about critical incidents and suicides. I have often said that someday I wanted to write a book on suicide.

After I taught some sessions at the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD), my friend Jim Newheiser took me seriously and passed my name on to Paul Tautges. Paul asked me to write two books and gave me a deadline. HELP! My Friend is Suicidal deals with suicide prevention and intervention. The second book, HELP! Someone I Love Has Committed Suicide” will deal with suicide postvention, or what happens to those left behind after a suicide.

BCC: “What factors do you think contribute to suicide being such a widespread problem?”

BR: “The intentional undermining of biblical moral and spiritual values, especially the devaluing of human life since the approval of abortion in 1973, has created an atmosphere of acceptance and permission for both suicide and euthanasia. Sin always produces dissatisfaction with life and there have been a lot of dissatisfied people in the history of the world who have chosen to end their own lives. Today, however, there are forces at work to normalize and even popularize suicide as a courageous act of personal freedom. Some would romanticize suicide, but the “survivors”, the loved ones who are left behind, don’t see it as romantic, popular or normal.

Historically, the church and most people have found suicide repugnant because it is against God (an assault on the imago dei, Genesis 9:5-6); against Scripture (“You shall not murder” Exodus 20:13); against society (affects the whole community, Thomas Aquinas); and against nature (against the will to survive). Still, proponents are gaining ground with two States having passed physician-assisted suicide laws. I expect to see changes in police and emergency medical service responses to suicidal subjects in the not-distant future, as long as those persons are not deemed a threat to anyone other than themselves.”

BCC: “How does Jesus provide hope and help for people who are thinking about suicide?”

BR: “It may surprise you to realize that suicide is actually more about living than about dying. Suicidal subjects are unhappy with their lives. It’s not so much that they want to die as that they don’t want to go on living as they are. There is something that they want to be different, but they don’t know how, or are not able, to make it any different. Not wanting to live this way and wanting to die are not the same. The suicidal person’s dissatisfaction presents as depression: they have lost hope. The gospel is good news that is all about hope… and about living.

We need to remember that one major purpose of the Scriptures is to give hope (Romans 15:4). The Bible calls us to live in hope and to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Instead of being afraid of people with mental issues and suicidal ideation, and avoiding them, we as Christians need to learn how to engage such people in love and really listen to them, offering biblical solutions to the things that trouble them.”

BCC: “How do you hope your e-Book will be used?”

BR: “Much of the Christian literature that is available on suicide is written for counselors and pastors, not for the people in the pew who are in the trenches on a daily basis interacting with friends and coworkers who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. I wanted to write something that not only pastors and counselors could use, but would also be helpful to people with suicidal friends and could even be given to those friends to read themselves. I wanted something small and inexpensive enough to freely give away. I also want it to be portable and easy to give away to others (though only available now as an e-Book, the printed version is coming soon). The mini-book series is perfect for that purpose. I pray that God will use this book to save lives and, even more importantly, to draw sinners to himself to the glory of Jesus Christ.”

BCC: “How can our readers get their own copy of Help! My Friend is Suicidal?

BR: “The e-Book is immediately available from Amazon.”

BCC: “Thank you, Bruce, for introducing our BCC readers to this new biblical resource on dealing with suicide.”

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