Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: Thoughts after a Suicide

A young man committed suicide last weekend. He was a freshman student at our community college, a football player. I didn’t know him. Two of my good friends taught him in their classes. They say he appeared reasonably happy—maybe a little quiet. He came to class and did his schoolwork.

Other students liked him. One said to me, “He was crazy.”
Another told me, “It was a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

It is too late now to talk to my students about it because the semester is over. But I would like to tell them some things, if I could. Maybe I'll tell the new ones next semester.

No matter what his reasons were, his death is tragic—a tragic waste. His family and all the other people who knew him must feel very upset about his death and guilty about not being able, ultimately, to help him.

No problem is ever worth committing suicide—nothing.

If at any time someone tells you he is thinking about killing himself, believe it. Know that this person is crying out for help, even if he appears to be kidding.

Take it seriously. An actual suicide attempt is a desperate cry for help.

Don’t just try to talk her out of it. She may agree with you and even promise not to hurt herself. But remember that suicidal people are unstable. She may mean to keep the promise—and then fall apart and shoot herself that very night. Therefore, tell somebody who can do something about it; don’t keep it a secret.

If you begin to feel depressed, overwhelmed, and unable to function, talk to someone you trust—a teacher, a parent, a good friend, a pastor. Don’t put it off.

Try to remember that whatever bad situation you are in, it isn’t the end of things. Time brings change. You won’t always feel this way.

God is the great healer of your heart. He wants to hear from you a heartfelt cry for help. The Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). And Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

A good thing from the Bible to memorize is this: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). That means God created everything, including me; the things of the world are chaotic, but “in him,” I can make it through the chaos.

How does that happen? If I know him and go to him often and love him, my heart will know a deep, sweet peace, no matter what terrible problems may come my way. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

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