Greg's Weekly Word: "suicide"
I've always been a big advocate for mental health, and over the past couple of months I have heard of more and more people (in my extended network of acquaintances) who have died by suicide. Below is a reflection I wrote for the Center for Congregational Ethics' for February 10th.
If you have had suicidal thoughts, or if you've lost a loved one to suicide, please look into the resources below. Or you can reach out to me. And regardless, know that you are loved and you are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
Jason learned of Chet’s suicide on the first Sunday of his sermon series, “Responses to Pain.” Chet was one of Jason’s former youth (the favorite one, at that), and he and the church were crushed. As you can read in his book on that experience - Faded Flowers: Preaching in the Aftermath of Suicide - there is no easy way to respond to such pain…especially when it is found in scripture.
In today's passage (from Job 6), Job prays that “God would be willing to crush [him]…and cut off [his] life.” He buckles under the sheer tonnage of his anguish and misery, greater even than the weight of all the sand in the seas. In short, he wishes he was dead.
Sadly, there are people in our pews who feel the same - who see no way forward and no way out, and for whom the pain of death seems less than the pain of life. 1 in 20 Americans (about 66 million people) report suicidal thoughts. Almost 1.5 million people will attempt suicide this year. And 50,000 people will die by suicide this year. Churches are not immune from statistics like these.
What are churches and Christians to do?
Check on one another to know when people are hurting. (That goes for pastors, too!)
Don’t diminish or dismiss people’s pain. It’s ok (it’s good!) to talk about mental health.
Be informed about resources for suicide prevention and mental health (see above).
And always speak this truth: You are loved, and you are not alone. Because - along with the Apostle Paul - I am convinced there is nothing that can change it (Romans 8:38-29).