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Suicide:”The Preventable Death”

February 19, 2014

Related Topics:
Cutting and Self-Harm Suicide
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What is Suicide?

“A sense of hopelessness or inescapability, combined with a pattern of poor coping, a limited tolerance, and a flight from help coalesce in some manner to form suicidal intent.” – Jeffery S. Black

Why Suicide?

  • Suicidal intent cannot be related to a single cause factor.
  • It is the overflow of a number of other unresolved problems.
  • The person is hopeless that things can ever get better, and he lacks the coping skills to continue trying. Suicide feels like a better alternative at that time – Prov 14:12.

Some Statistics:

  • In 2006, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States (33,300 died out of 800,000+ attempts), one every 16 minutes
  • Suicides outnumber homicides
  • More men than women die but more women then men attempt suicide
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death between the ages of 15-24 years
  • Half a million teenagers are reported to attempt suicide every year
  • More Vietnam vets have killed themselves since 1974 than actually died in combat
  • More than 5,000 seniors kill themselves annually

Examples of Suicide in the Scriptures:

  • Saul: for pride over losing a battle and fear of torture (1Sam 31:4)
  • Judas: for guilt and shame over betraying Christ (Mt 26:14,15; 27:1-5)
  • Ahithophel: because his advice was rejected (2Sam 17:23)
  • Abimelech: he did not want it to be known that he was killed by a woman (Jdg 9:50-55)

A Biblical Perspective on Suicide:

  • We are image bearers for God (Gen 1:27; Jas 3:9)
  • We are to honor the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19)
  • Murder is condemned in Scripture (sixth Commandment)
  • God is sovereign over all life (Job 1:21)
  • Suicidal intent is not the “unforgivable” sin
  • No human being can prevent suicide because of the free will of man to make such a choice

Suicide: “The Preventable Death”

What Can I do to Help? Know the warning signs.

  • Talk of suicide in general
  • Specific verbal statements such as, “I wish I had never been born.”
  • Preoccupation with death, terminal illness, graveyards, wills, burial plots etc.
  • Giving away of valuable possessions, i.e. pets
  • Planning for the care of dependents
  • Change in eating, sleeping, or grooming habits
  • Sudden state of euphoria following a long depression: “calm before the storm”
  • Withdrawing from others or from favorite activities
  • A lack of fear of death, taking risks

Even higher-risk indicators:

  • History of drug, and or, alcohol use
  • Victims of physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
  • Being investigated for criminal charges
  • History of depression or other “Mental health” issues
  • Those who have previously attempted suicide
  • A suicide survivor (when someone close has committed suicide)
  • People who have perfectionist type personalities
  • Those experiencing recent significant loss through death, divorce, or relationship break-up
  • Childhood history of frequent moves
  • Firstborn in families

What do I do first? Encourage the person to talk to you (Jas 1:19, 20).

  • First listen, then move from asking general to specific questions to determine suicidal intent.
  • Be aware that the more detailed the plan and the more access they have to their method of choice, the more likely they will follow through.
  • Be compassionate; consider the depth of their pain and suffering (Lam 3:22-24). Remember suicide is not so much about wanting to die as it is not knowing how to live with the problem.
  • Get their perspective: Life without ______ is not worth living because_____? (1Cor 10:31).
  • Give them hope that there is a solution to what to them seems unsolvable (1Cor 10:13). You help them or take them to someone who can help find that solution. Suicide: “The Preventable Death”
  • Help them to see any influences from outside sources (music, friends, reading materials etc.) that might be contributing to their hopelessness (Psalm 1, 1Cor 15:33).
  • Help the person realize that suicide is the ultimate act of self-love to avoid painful consequences (2Tim 3:1-2).
  • Help them see that suffering is a part of God's will to refine us in Christ, with the goal to change their focus from escape to contentment (Php 4:11-13).
  • Don’t attempt to manipulate through shame, but bring them back to God’s purposes for them (1Cor 4:14).
  • Continue to encourage them through church ministries, serving and being served (Gal 6:1).
  • Ask to determine if they are actually saved and point them to hope through the Word (Ro 15:4).

Finally, consider this…

  • Talking to someone about their suicidal intent will not encourage them to attempt suicide. Instead, it typically communicates interest and hope because you cared enough to ask.
  • People who have suicidal intent will usually not try and hide it from others – you just need to be willing to ask.
  • Trust God to use you as His Instrument of Hope to someone who needs help (Lk 10:25-37)!