Suicide has been on my mind recently, and it’s not just because Robin Williams and Brittany Maynard have been making headlines. According to the World Health Organization, every year 800,000 people commit suicide, and, within the past month, two of those people have been my friends.
So I can say from experience, suicide sucks.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about my friends who killed themselves, my stomach lurches, my throat closes up, tears fall uncontrollably, and I go to a deep, dark place of despair in my soul. I’m sad, and I’m terrified for them because frankly I don’t know what suicide means for their soul. Since they are dead, my only hope can come from something that happens after life and that’s where things get a little hazy.
I also don’t know about you, but cute quotes and anecdotes don’t bring me out of this pit of despair. “Sending positive thoughts” or pretending suicide is a “heroic act” doesn’t make my intense pain go away.
In this time of grief, I need real hope.
Nothing else will do.
The problem is suicide happens when hopelessness takes the reigns of someone’s life to the point of death. Finding real hope in the hopeless situation of suicide seems impossible.
So how do we find hope in the hopelessness of suicide?
This question is not new for me. I grew up in a home where suicide was common. Members of my immediate family have struggled with the thought and threat for a long time, and it was even attempted on occasion. This drove me to my own personal struggle with suicide.
I remember being slumped against my bedroom wall, soaked by tears and gripping a bottle of medicine that I wanted to overdose on. You’re worthless. Your life has no point. You’ve failed too much. You’re a nobody. No one would care if you were gone. Just do it.
These were my literal thoughts. I was hopeless, and I needed hope but had none. I thought the only relief from the torment of life was to fade into oblivion.
I eventually fell asleep that night. Then I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel quite as hopeless and I trudged on through life. It wasn’t until months later that an actual, sure, and steadfast hope was introduced to me.
I believe the solution to my problem with attempting suicide is also the solution to hope in accomplished suicides: Jesus Christ.
I know that sounds cheesy, but bear with me.
Humankind was created by a perfect God to be perfect, but we sucked it up. That’s a problem because imperfect people can’t be with a perfect God, and not a single person could achieve the perfection for which we were created. Since God is really, really, really kind he made a way for us to be made perfect again so we could be with Him.
Jesus Christ came down, lived a life of perfection, died the death that we deserve for our imperfection, and then rose so that his life of perfection could be given to all who believe that he did this on behalf of imperfect humankind. In Christ, God does not see the suck. He sees perfection. Therefore, because of Christ, sucky people can be with a perfect God forever.
THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER. like ever.
The Gospel tells me that when I sin I don’t phase in and out of being a Christian. I am Christian because of Christ not because I’m good sometimes. If the Gospel depended on me, that’s not good news!
Here’s how the Gospel relates to suicide.
No doubt, suicide is a sin. The dictionary defines the act as a person murdering themselves. It is a tragedy and a grave sin no matter the circumstance.
BUT *news flash* sins don’t define us, Jesus does!
John Piper says it best, “Not a single sin, even suicide, evicts a person from heaven to hell.”
Although suicide is a tragedy and grave sin, salvation is determined by Christ’s perfection and not our imperfection.
This gives me great hope.
Though the death of a friend is almost too difficult to bear, I can have hope that there is life, peace, and comfort for my friends after death because of a great Savior.
Speaking from my own fight with temptations of suicide, don’t do it.
Seasons of darkness come and go, but don’t let hopelessness take the reigns. There is hope, and you are not alone. Despair is part of being human. Talk to someone about it like these guys: 1 (800)273-TALK
And most of all, remember there is a Christ who loved you to the point that he endured ultimate hopelessness and death so you don’t have to.
Jesus is the sure and steadfast anchor to our soul that brings hope to the darkest pits of despair.