Suicide - Lessons from the Bible on winning the battle

Suicide - Lessons from the Bible on winning the battle


Sunday, September 08, 2019

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“We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.”

— 2 Corinthians 4:8,

( New International Version)

WHAT'S on the outside more often than not masks the inner man.

Many suffer with prolonged feelings of worthlessness, leaving them to ask: Why bother? Why should I go on?

The thought of death seems so real — little wonder, many have contemplated or attempted suicide.

In Jamaica, some 50 people annually — more males than females — have resorted to suicide over the past few years; not to mention many whose daily struggle it is to stave off this silent killer.

People, though, who try to kill themselves, the experts will tell you, do not really want to end it all. They just can't find a reason good enough to keep on living. In other words, the inner suffering creates such a powerful reason to die that it has clouded the will to live.

Have you been plagued by similar thoughts of suicide or worthlessness? Well, you are not alone in this fight for life, and the Bible, the Word of God, the Giver of life, offers practical advice in moments like these.

We must fight on:

Because change is the only constant

Suicide has been referred to as a “permanent fix to a temporary problem”. It may be hard to believe, but as troubling or uncontrollable as one's circumstance may seem, the suffering may be temporal — things can change for the better.

Faithful men and women of old witnessed unexpected changes in their circumstances. So, do not give up!

Moses, referred to as the meekest man in all the earth, begged: “If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me.” (Numbers 11:15). The prophet Elijah, at 1 Kings 19:4, stated: “I have had enough, Lord, take my life,” while the upright and blameless man, Job, lamented: “Why did I not perish at birth?” (Job 3:11)

These, based on the aforementioned, are feelings common to humans but, interestingly, not only did the circumstances of these servants change for the better, but in ways they just did not foresee.

This may just be true for you, too.

But suppose it were true that your circumstances cannot change. What if you suffer from a chronic illness or a tragedy that cannot be reversed, such as the loss of a dear loved one or a break-up with a partner? You may not be able to change the situation, but what you can do is change the outlook on the situation.

By agreeing that there are things you cannot change, that, in itself, may encourage a more positive view on things.

“All the days of the afflicted are bad,” says the Amplified Bible at Proverbs 15:15, “but a glad heart has a continual feast, regardless of the circumstances”.

With that in mind, you are more inclined to seek out ways to cope rather than resorting to drastic measures, allowing you greater control over what seems uncontrollable. And, never forget to tackle the issue a day at a time, for Jesus cautions: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33) Fight on.

Because help is available

Depression is that deep pit out of which it is usually impossible to climb by yourself. A helping hand is needed.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that, “Studies have consistently found that the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide — 90 per cent or more — had a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Often, however, these disorders had not been recognised, diagnosed, or adequately treated.”

What, though, are the avenues available for help?

The first is prayer. This is not just a psychological crutch on which to limp or a last-minute, desperate resort. Prayer is real communication with God, who implores us to “cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Try talking to God today, and endeavour to hold on to prayer as a channel of communication available to you anytime, anywhere. Many have found real comfort from drawing closer to God in prayer. Psalm 34:18 tells us that “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Secondly, talk to people who care. As lonely as you may feel, your life does have value to your friends and family — some of whom may have expressed this to you. A friend may just be able to give you wise advice. We are reminded at Proverbs 11:14 that “Where there is no wise guidance the people fall, but in the multitude of councillors there is victory.”

A listening ear or “a word at the right time” can, indeed, be priceless, described as “apples of gold in carvings of silver”, at Proverbs 25:11.

Thirdly, and not to be overlooked, is the need for professional assistance. Suicidal thoughts or feelings of worthlessness often signal, as we have seen, the presence of a mood disorder such as clinical or some other depression of sorts. Get in touch, urgently, with a physician noted for treating these mood swings or disorders.

Openly discuss your feelings and do not be afraid to do so. You should never feel ashamed of an emotional disability any more than if you had a physical one.

Depression is referred to as “the common cold of the mind”, which means anyone can get it. But the good news is it can be treated.

Matthew 9:12 quotes Jesus as saying: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

Fourthly, get needed rest. The wisest man, Solomon, counselled: “Better is a handful of rest, than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6). This text has long echoed the sentiments of the medical field, that a lack of quality sleep can exacerbate difficult circumstances and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance.

Therefore, rest and get the strength to fight on.

Because hope lives on

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1) is a statement we are forced to agree with, as none of us can escape being touched by a tragedy in one form or the other, that may occasion these unwanted feelings.

Our emotions may toss and turn us like a boat in the turbulent sea, but hope exists in the Bible's message, one that acts like an anchor that stabilises us. Take the time out to read this message of hope and comfort as seen at Revelation 21:3-5, Psalm 37, Isaiah 41:10-13 and the famous Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 5-7, and prove that the “Word of God is alive and exerts power, and is sharper than a two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of marrow and their joints, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Be determined, therefore, to fight and overcome feelings of worthlessness.

Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD) is a minister of religion who lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

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