The Suicide Epidemic and What Our Church Is Doing About It
The string of celebrity deaths because of suicide highlights the rising suicide rate. As a chaplain, I have regretfully laid one too many soldiers to rest because of suicide. After my unit returned from Iraq several years ago, we seemed to almost be laying down one soldier a year just from that unit alone. I think it is too easy for Christians to give our many cliches to those who are suicidal. “Jesus loves you too much for you to take your life.” “God has a purpose and you will be cutting that purpose too short if you kill yourself.” While there may be some truth to these statements, it is hard for us to get inside the emotions and the mind of someone who is suicidal. As Christians we too often rush to judgment against those who are thinking about suicide. I recently heard someone say that even religion is not able to stem the tide of suicides and that there is no statistical difference between those who are religious or non religious and yet have suicidal thoughts. I would respond by saying that they are right! Religion cannot help. This is where we make a distinction between being simply religious and having a true relationship through Christ with the living God. As a church, it is not enough that we merely “evangelize.” We must also equip people with the skills necessary to intervene and promote resiliency among those who are risk based upon the hope we have in God. For the last several months, we have been planning to start the Restoration Institute out of our church’s nonprofit, The Restoration Initiative. Through the Institute, we plan to offer training, conferences, and written resources that help the church to engage culture. In August, we will offer our first suicide intervention workshop (September is Suicide Prevention Month). This will be a two day workshop using the ASIST curriculum, the foremost suicide intervention skills training in the world. We hope to equip people in our church and our community to intervene and show hope when it seems as though suicide is the only alternative. More details concerning the Institute and the workshops will be forthcoming. We are in preparation right now with launching a website and preparing details of the workshop. Pray for us as we begin the Institute and as we offer these workshops that we hope will equip people with the skills needed and show the love of Christ to a hurting world. If you or someone you love is struggling with suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Remember, you are loved with an everlasting love and underneath are the Everlasting Arms.