At Journey, we’ve talked about it before, but in this time of the current pandemic, I think it needs to be spoken about again. What is it? Suicide.
Jim White writes that according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1999 to 2018 the suicide rate in the United States surged by 35%. It is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. The greatest increases have occurred since 2006.
These rates have risen across almost every age group and for both males and females, with males remaining the most likely to die by suicide. In 2018, the suicide rate was 22.8 per 100,000 males. This is nearly four times the rate of women. But the rise of suicide among women is greater. Between 1999 and 2018, the rate among men grew by 28%, but among women, it grew by 55%.
The Bible is clear: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NIV). And the reason is simple—life is sacred. The fact that every one of us was created in the image of God means each of us is of infinite worth and value. Taking it upon ourselves to end life is an act of defiance against God. This includes murdering ourselves. It is a violation of the sixth commandment. It is never God’s dream or desire. This is why the stunning increase in suicide rates should be alarming to all Christians.
Still, suicide is not an unforgivable sin, nor something that automatically commits you to hell.
People struggling with suicidal thoughts are in need of Christ-like compassion and help. Within the Christian community, where openness and grace should flow the richest and deepest, where the masks are meant to come off, and safety offered to all, acknowledging suicidal thoughts and deep depression should not be taboo.
There is the idea among some that people of faith shouldn’t be depressed. As a result, depressed people have been riddled with guilt, have hidden in shame, and have been afraid to surface in order to get the help they need. This should not be so.
Depression and a strong, vibrant faith are not automatically at odds with each other. Throughout Christian history, men and women who have been deeply committed to Christ have been gripped, sometimes mercilessly, with depression.
An article by American University states: “Millions of Americans are staying home and away from others to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Doctors and researchers agree this is a necessary step. But they’re also concerned about what this isolation could do to those already at greater risk for suicide. . . In addition to the increased isolation, many Americans are losing their jobs or seeing their businesses shut indefinitely. That means increased financial stress for tens of millions of people.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please reach out to your Journey Church family so that you might be connected with resources to help. We love you. We care for you. There is hope in Christ.
Or if you would prefer to remain more anonymous, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
You are not alone.