In 2015, I first wrote of my love for People magazine and it’s long-standing position as my “Favorite Guilty Pleasure”. You can read the original confession here. It comes to my house free every week (it started as an airline miles for mags thing and has continued to be the gift that keeps on giving) and it provides me a mental vacation from the sometimes more challenging books and Bible studies I may be consuming. Then I always pass it on to a friend who shares the same affection for this light-weight fare, but who also doesn’t love it enough to pay for it.
This issue, however, was not the fluffy time waster to which I have grown accustomed. This issue broke my heart. Not because I had any kind of personal connection to the cover stars, but because of the devastating rate at which I hear of a new suicide now. Just last week the centers for disease control released a report showing that suicide rates went up by more than 30% in half of the United States between 1999 and 2016. Experts are “struggling to understand why numbers have risen so dramatically.” Based on these two stories alone we can deduce that money, fame, prestige, celebrity nor even adventure can make a person happy. It’s a hard thing to study, but contributing factors are often isolation, job stress, relationship problems, addiction, mood disorders and anxiety.
My friend Stacey, a Licensed Professional Counselor, gave me the following analogy: Suicidal thoughts are like standing on the 100th floor of a skyscraper that is completely on fire. People down on the street are saying, “Don’t jump!” But you are standing in a building of flames and at least if you jump you avoid the torture of being burned alive. To truly “save” the person, we can’t just dissuade him/her from jumping. We have to run into the building and put out the fire. In plain speak, we have to offer hope.
As believers in Christ, we have the hope the world needs. Satan is the father of lies and an accuser who is constantly telling us that we are hopeless, that no one loves us and that no one can help us. But in Jesus, we find unconditional love, purpose, truth, abundant life, and acceptance. And maybe most importantly, we have hope. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3 NASB. In Him we know that our present suffering won’t last forever. We know that He can work ANYTHING we experience for our good (Romans 8:28). We know that one day, through Jesus, all evil will be abolished (Romans 16:20). And we know that “He will wipe away every tear…and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain;” Revelation 21:4.
I don’t mean to over-simplify this issue. I’m not naive enough to think that Christians never kill themselves. And mental illness is very real and very complex. But I do know that there is always hope and there is always help. Focus on the Family has a free hotline at 1-855-771-HELP (4357) staffed by licensed professional counselors offering guidance from a biblical perspective. As does Hope for the Heart Ministries at 1-800-488-HOPE (4673). Both can also provide a list of Christian counselors in your area for continued care and follow up. For urgent assistance around the clock, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. The local church is also a great resource to find help for you or someone you know who is struggling.
It’s a big battlefield out there, but we serve a VERY BIG GOD. Offer hope. Tell others about Jesus.
“For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Love the burning building analogy. How true – “We have to put the fire out.” Thanks for giving us more tools to do so!
Exactly, Lauren! Jesus is the only answer this world would ever need, and the Church needs to wake up again to her responsibility, and make Him known. God is watching. May we not be found wanting. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you.
Blessings to you, Boma.
Debbie Wilson says
The burning building analogy helps to understand the pressure they feel. The father of lies still seeks to destroy. Thank you for sharing hope.
Thank you, Debbie.
Jeanne Takenaka says
Lauren, as one who lives in a community where MANY teens have taken their lives over the past few years, I can second you in that this is a very real, very devastating thing. Your words are so right. Hope is an important thing for people to hold onto. And your analogy of the burning building brought the mindset to life for me.
You’ve given me some thoughts to ponder. Thank you for writing gently about a difficult topic.
Thank you for your kind words, Jeanne.
Andrew Budek-Schmeisser says
I’m sort of at another end of this, Lauren. I’ve got pancreatic cancer and a bleak outlook, and people are telling me to look into assisted suicide (legal in my state).
I’ll never do it. Folks don’t understand that even hen things are dreadful and fixin’ to get worse, there’s still joy in life. The ending doesn’t have to be happy; grace abounds, if we take hat’s freely offered and quit trying to manufacture our own.
Oh, Andrew. Such a good word. I want you to know I continue to pray for you and your wife – since we first met in the blogosphere. Thanks for keeping in touch.
Tea With Jennifer says
Great post, as a registered Clinical Counselor, I too see the side that your friend does.
It is a very difficult issue especially for those who are experiencing hopelessness but there is hope while there is life… life giving hope found in God’s love…
Debbie Kitterman says
Lauren, this is such a great post. I completely agree with you. We have what the world needs, hope and Jesus! I like your counselor friend, Stacey’s analogy. Thank you for sharing and writing about this and for sharing the phone numbers for people to get the help they need. We are neighbors today at Holley’s. Blessings
Thank you for reading and sharing, Debbie.
Linda Stoll says
Lauren, this is an urgent subject and an important post.
Let’s continue to offer hope together …
It’s so needed. Thank you, Linda.
Thank you for writing about this, too. So have I (at https://lovehealme.blogspot.com and https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com). I feel this issue is so critical to address, and it’s so important for those of us who know what it’s like to tell our stories and offer hope and truth. God bless you!
Thank you, Heather!
Donna Reidland says
It is sad that so many people lack hope, even people who seem to have it all by the world’s standards. I think we have also become a society that expects to be happy all the time and when we have times of sadness, loneliness, or emptiness, we want and expect instant relief even if that means ending our own lives. All the more reason to offer people the hope that only God can give.
So true Donna.