By John Waddey
One of the major social problems of our day is suicide. Suicide is self-murder. The term is from the Latin sui (oneself) and cidium (to intentionally kill). This year some 25,000 Americans will destroy themselves. It is estimated that another 50,000 deaths will be undetected or unproven suicides. Industry Week, Nov. 30. 1970. Only about one in ten who attempt suicide are successful. So prevalent has this problem become that one American in ten has had their life touched by a case of suicide. It is not uncommon to hear of Christians who have made attempts upon their own lives. Sociologists have noted that the prevalence of suicide is highest among Protestants, and that Jews have a lower rate than Catholics.
This is the kind of problem that we seldom talk about until the tragedy strikes near us. But its prevalence and seriousness demands that we think about it and arrive at a correct understanding before being faced with it. Then it is usually too late.
SOME CAUSES OF SUICIDE
That mental derangement is a common cause is undisputed. However, while many suicide cases are the result of emotional illness, not all could be so classed. Some of the wisest and greatest intellects have chosen this path. Soldiers operating behind enemy lines and spies commonly carry suicide pills to avoid capture and torture. In some societies, especially the Orientals, self-inflicted death is considered preferable to humiliation. China has traditionally allowed condemned criminals to commit suicide. It is still a live option in Japanese culture. Many important personalities who are found guilty of dishonesty or disloyalty choose death rather than to live in dishonor and be reduced to a level of poverty.
Pressures of life and business and dread of trouble are notable causes. Such can cause emotional breakdown which may lead to suicide. But even the sane, when faced with intense pain, great misfortune, disgrace, or fear of destitution choose this escape. The Philippian jailer reflects this type (Acts16:27).
Remorse and dispair lead to depression which is a frequent cause of suicide. Judas was such a case. He chose to hang himself rather than live with his guilt and shame (Matt.27:5).
Sometimes a desire to punish or hurt others by making them feel guilty or responsible for their death prompts people to kill themselves. Adolescent children have been known to do this to their parents. Aged parents sometimes follow this route. Partners of unhappy marriages have occasionally done this.
THE FOOLISHNESS AND SINFULNESS OF SUICIDE
Suicide is a flagrant violation of God’s prohibition, “Thou shalt not kill,” (literally: do no murder), (Rom.13:9). It is a self-murder. The very nature of the deed makes it impossible to repent and ask forgiveness of it. This is why we style it a sin unto death.
To kill oneself is contrary to nature. The love of life and self-preservation are two of the strongest principles implanted in man by his Creator.
Such a deed reflects a lack of trust and confidence in God. The prospective suicide obviously believes that God has failed him. The Christian’s God has promised, “I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee” (Heb.13:5). To choose self-destruction is a declaration of unbelief in such promises. The person may feel that God has been unjust in assigning his station and work in life.
Self-murder is a contemptuous casting away and destroying as something worthless, God’s precious gift of life. Such is utter ingratitude, the opposite of the thankful heart we are commanded to have (Phil.4:6).
Suicide is a refusal on man’s part to accept God’s assignment if it proves difficult or unpleasant. God expects us to be faithful stewards of whatever responsibilities He lays upon us. The Christian must be willing to “suffer hardship” as a good soldier of Christ (2 Tim.2:3). Suicide is a cowardly abandonment of a trust God has given us. We, like Paul, must fight the good fight and keep the faith even unto death (2 Tim.4:6-8).
The act of suicide is a serious injustice to family and friends. Our life is not for our benefit alone. It is given for the sake of others as well. Paul argues in I Cor.7:4 that the husband and wife mutually possess each other. To destroy oneself is to rob and injure them in the most cruel and irreparable way. It is a clear violation of the rule called golden (Matt.7:12). Surely you would not want your loved one to so deal with you.
The Christian’s body is a temple for God’s Holy Spirit (I Cor.6:19). To commit suicide is to destroy God’s temple and we are warned that God will destroy one who does so (I Cor.3:16-17). I have no right to destroy God’s possession.
Suicide violates all of those scriptures which enjoin patient endurance of trials and tribulations (i.e., Jas.1:2-4, I Pet.1:5-7) To enjoy heaven we must be faithful until death comes in its own due time. The crown of life is only for those who are faithful unto death (Rev.2:10).
No misery in this life can compare to that which the vitim of self destruction recklessly plunges into. It is to stand before God guilty of murder. It denies one all possibility of repentance. It brings the judgment of a never ending hell upon the offender.
For a man to do such a deed is to place himself in God’s place and take His prerogatives in his own hands. Only God has the right ot kill and make alive (Gen.50:19).
PREVENTIVES AGAINST THIS AWFUL SIN
Strong and constant faith in God will keep one from this desperate act. The faith building promises of Romans 8 will fortify us against the thought of such; “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmity,” vs.26; “To them that love God all things work together for good,” vs.28; “If God is for us who is against us?” vs.31; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” vs.35; “In all things we are more than conquerors,” vs.37. Read these and others and make them your strength for living.
Moderation in regard to things of this world will help to safeguard us. If we love these things too much, we are overwhelmed when we lose them. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and do not worry overmuch about the material things of life for the Father will provide what we need (Matt.6:33).
Habitual self-control is a safeguard against suicide. The intemperate person is far more likely to commit this rash and thoughtless deed. Keep working to add temperance to your faith (2 Pet.1:6). This will help you to accept all of your duties and responsibilities to life.
The continual practice of believing prayer is a powerful protective against suicide. Peter exhorts us to cast all our anxieties upon Him, because he cares for us (2 Pet.5:7). Paul promises the peace of God which passes all understanding to the man who faces everything in prayer (Phil.4:6). With this help, self-destruction is out of the question.
In addition to this, fellowship with the saints is most helpful. Since many suicides are lonely and feel unloved and unwanted, the Christian family provides those basic human needs. Saints help to bear one another’s burdens (Gal.6:2). Every Christian is needed and wanted and never lacks for meaningful and purposeful experiences.
We must accept and have total confidence in the grace and forgiveness of God to remove all the guilt and shame of sin. Despair of forgiveness is a chief cause of self murder. The grace of God continually cleanses us of all sins when we confess our sins and walk in the light (I John 1:7-9). Likewise we must believe in and enjoy the great love of God. Many who make an attempt on their life believe that no one loves them. With David, we believe, “When my father and mother forsake me, then Jehovah will take me up” (Ps.27:10).
Fear of punishment beyond the grave provides a strong defense against suicide. Catholics, who are taught that suicide means certain damnation, have a very low rate of it. It is healthy to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Matt.10:28). This will help us balance our thoughts when problems arise.
No matter how heavy the burdens, how dark the night, nor how intense the pain, let us promptly and resolutely reject the very idea of suicide. It is in no wise an option for the child of God who wants to live with God in eternity.