January 1 2023
This month’s Pastor’s Corner is a little longer than usual because of the nature of the topic.
Suicide is such a serious issue facing our families, friends and society today that I thought it was deserving of more space. I believe you will agree after reading my thoughts and reviewing the statistics I compiled on the subject.
This is a very dark and lonely time of the year for a lot of people. While many are excited about the holidays, visiting relatives and friends, shopping and sharing time with loved ones, some are hurting. Behind the charming, warm smile is a heart that is hurting from a breakup, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, loneliness, dissatisfaction and disappointment with life in general and depression that seems to bubble up from nowhere. When faced with one or more of these challenges, the thought of suicide can arise and overtake the minds of people who seem to be enjoying the best time of their lives. Those that seem to be strong, successful and resilient.
I was saddened to hear that a well-known celebrity by the name of Stephen “Twitch” Boss had taken his life recently. He left behind a wife, three children, relatives, friends and a host of admirers. If you look at his life it appeared he had everything going for himself. He and his wife had danced to the enjoyment of hundreds recently with no signs of distress. He had a great façade, but obviously he was dealing with something that caused him to take his life at what seemed to be at the pinnacle of his career?
Suicide is a spirit and has a voice. It is one of the devices that Satan uses to destroy us. It has such persuasive powers that it can convince people to take their own lives. It conveys a message of hopelessness that leads to sadness, loneliness and depression. And without the proper intervention the person is made to believe that things are so bad that the best thing to do is end it all. Suicide will appeal to the mind of any person of any race or gender and it does not discriminate based on socio-economic status. Its only focus is to take its target out. Anyone who will listen to the voice becomes a potential victim.
When my wife of 42 years died suddenly in June, 2021, I did not know how I could live without her. I had never had a thought of suicide before in all my years of living. But at my most vulnerable point in my life, that spirit came to me and spoke as it would any person in my state of mind. It didn’t care that I was a Pastor who lived by faith and trusted in God. It saw me as a potential target and aggressively sought me. All it cared about was destroying me and ripping my family apart. LET ME BE CLEAR, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT TAKING MY OWN LIFE, BUT THE SPIRIT TESTED ME AND HAS BEEN SPEAKING TO ME OFF AND ON FOR OVER EIGHTEEN MONTHS. I recognized the trick of the enemy and resisted any prolonged conversations with that spirit. If a person does not understand what is taking place and entertains those voices of death, he/she could become a victim. The Bible tells us that our adversary walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and it also tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you. I had to resist any such thought and demonstrate my will and determination that I would live in spite of my pain. I would remain steadfast and un-moveable. I reminded myself that Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.
To some people this may seem like crazy talk, but it isn’t, it is real talk. None of us are exempted from the enemy trying to destroy us. If Satan could convince one third of the angels to rebel against God and they were in His very presence, he certainly has no problem using suicide to try to persuade us to destroy ourselves.
I lost a nephew to suicide in July of 2021 and several years prior to that, my wife’s niece committed suicide. Both relatives took their lives through the use of a gun. My nephew walked into a restroom after telling his girlfriend and friend what he was about to do and then he killed himself. My niece chose to commit this act in her vehicle in a parking lot. Her body was not found for several days. My question then and now is what could have been so bad that they wanted to kill themselves when they had their whole life ahead of them. Whatever was troubling them would go away at some point and they would have another chance to achieve their goals and fulfil their aspirations.
Here are some startling statistics to consider:
• In 2020, approximately 46,000 Americans died by suicide.
• It is the 12th leading cause of deaths in the United States.
• Every day approximately 125 Americans die by suicide.
• There is one suicide death in the United States every 11.5 minutes.
• There is one suicide death for every 25 attempts.
• There are approximately 1,149,475 annual attempts in the United States. That equates to one attempt every 27.5 seconds.
• Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of deaths in the world for those aged 15-24 years.
• In 2020, the highest rates were among whites (15.7 per 100,000).
• One male dies by suicide every 14.1 minutes in the Unites States compared to one female every 55.9 minutes.
• Over 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year.
Why do people commit suicide? There are a variety of reasons like mental illness, social factors like loneliness, financial ruin, and shame can all be triggers. The most obvious of the social factors is access to health services, psychiatrists, therapists and prescription anti-depressants. Not all who kill themselves do so after a long struggle with depression. Many take their lives after a sudden event like an unexpected death, financial disaster or a broken relationship.
More prevention is being offered through Suicide Hotlines to combat this problem. Additionally, companies are including counseling and prescriptions as part of their benefits package. However, there is still much more that needs to be done to curtail these deaths. We can all assist by supporting those who we recognize as being in distress and offering encouragement and love.
The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few. As believers we need to make sure we are spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A relationship with Him will provide the hope and strength that many need to keep living and moving forward. I know what my relationship with him has done for me and I have heard testimonies from others who said the Lord gave them “Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and the spirit of praise for the garment of heaviness”.
God will Surround, Sustain and Save us. Call on Him and He will answer.
I like what our future looks like!!