When I was a teenager I had periods of time where I thought I was “depressed.” In hindsight, I really didn’t understand what depression was, but I knew I felt sad. There were times I even felt sad enough to consider doing something drastic to stop the feelings. I experimented with drinking and drugs as ways to forget my feelings, and I am willing to admit I flirted with things like cutting long before it was “fashionable” to do so. I am also honest enough to tell you that at times I considered suicide as the way to end my troubles and sorrows.
We are living in a period of time that many people find themselves feeling overwhelmed due to crushing financial pressures. So many people are out of work, and are struggling to pay their monthly expenses and put food on the table for their families. This is happening to people in their late 40’s and 50’s who thought they were heading down the home stretch toward retirement. They suddenly find themselves in line at the unemployment office or working at a low wage job because it is all they can get.
Marriage relationships are struggling terribly as well. It is hard to say what is driving these marital difficulties to accelerate, but what we see is that couples that were functioning before are now collapsing under the strain of daily life.
Our kids and young adults are not immune to tensions and pressures either. The problems at home between Mom and Dad, the underlying stress of the financial woes of the family, and the normal stuff of teenage life are combining to create the perfect storm of angst in our kids.
People in all these categories are considering the most drastic of solutions to their problems, suicide. Every 15 minutes someone chooses to end their life. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.
They choose suicide because they believe their situation is hopeless. They cannot see any way their circumstances will change for the better and many times they have tried to do everything possible to fix or rectify things and they simply see no end in sight. They describe being overwhelmed, depressed, miserable, sad, and hopeless.
Both David and Elijah in the Old Testament experienced such feelings and thoughts. Both of these godly men had great spiritual highs and experiences with God and they also had crushing lows. David was king over Israel and was known as the man after God’s own heart, yet he committed adultery and murder! This brought him to a place of great despair and depression as he experienced God’s hand of conviction and chastisement on him. Look at Psalm 38 to see his expressions of sorrow and depression!
Elijah also struggled with such anguish he wanted to die. God used him in a mighty way (1 Kings 18) to defeat the prophets of Baal and on the heels of such a great spiritual high Elijah ran away hopeless from the evil Queen Jezebel. He ran into the desert, and begged God to take his life (1 Kings 19).
Jeremiah, Jonah, and even Job all despaired of life at times because their misery level was so high. The things we suffer with in this life are no different in nature than their troubles. Of course, our individual circumstances are different but the solution is the same.
Hope is the solution to the temptation of suicide. Our hope is not in worldly things like winning the lottery or coming into an inheritance, nor is it in other earthly or temporary things like new cars or even people who tell us they love us. Our hope is only found in a restorative and regenerative relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the one who gives us hope in this life and the one to come. When a person has a permanent relationship with God in Christ it can (and should) change their outlook on all aspects of life. The understanding that all of this is temporary and that a perfect blissful eternity waits for us is encouraging. Knowing that the Lord uses my trials and troubles to change and perfect my character is also uplifting because it makes them purposeful. I am not being subjected to difficulties without reason, these things are intentional and allowed by God. He promises to bring beauty from ashes and to bring glory to Himself through our lives.
Suicide is never the solution to problems of any kind. If you are really struggling I urge you to get counsel, get help from someone who can lead you in the right direction- away from suicidal thoughts and toward hope, healing and help.