Kate Spade. Anthony Bourdain. Robin Williams. Maybe your friend. Family. Co-workers. An acquaintance. These people all have something in common. They committed suicide. They chose to give up any happiness they may have experienced later on down the road, (maybe when things got better) because it all became too much. They chose to leave behind their loved ones, their jobs, their responsibilities, and their futures. Prematurely. Obviously, they were in an extremely dark place to accept the consequences of their action and still follow through. When you break it down and really think about it, you will realize, suicide is a very misunderstood thing. It’s also extremely multi-layered.
In the wake of tragedy, we will try to comprehend and give different reasons why these people shouldn’t have done what they did. There are many perspectives that come to the surface.
- There’s the attitude that it was a good thing. That we will miss them but because they were hurting so bad, they “deserve” the opportunity to leave this life if things get too hard. I don’t agree with that.
- Then, there’s the “life gets hard and you get depressed but you shouldn’t be so selfish…You just suck it up and deal with it” approach. I disagree with that, as well.
- And there will always be people with the idea that since it’s not THEIR son, or THEIR best friend, they ignore the growing epidemic of depression.
I want to break this down a bit today and talk about the right way we should approach suicide.
Christians have a responsibility to care. Honestly, whether we feel like it or not.
When Jesus was walking the earth He showed so much genuine interest in the well-being of others. He wanted to save them. He wanted to show them love and grace and forgiveness in a way that would enable them to live their life with more freedom and joy. He didn’t want them to be isolated. He WOULD spend time alone in prayer, but He also spent a large portion of it with His disicples. His companions. His friends.
We see clearly in Scriptures like Psalms and Job that we MUST surround ourself with genuine friends. Not faces. Not just people, or strangers, or Instagram followers. Not even just polite-and-shake-your-hand-at-church-people. I mean, calls-you-when-they-haven’t heard-from-you. Fellowship, meals together, conversations, and authenticity. And we gotta start building communtiy. Like, yesterday. Because the reason why people hate their life and feel alone, is because they are in a crowd of strangers day in and day out who don’t put in the time to build soild relationships.
Because of all the depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, many organizations are trying to raise awareness (even money) for mental illnesses. There are events, conferences, counselors, books, films, classes, etc…All to better understand the 350 million people in the world who battle these constant wars. We have the best intentions. We spend so much of our valuable effort, time, and money in order to make people understand how serious mental illness is. But the sad thing is, none of it matters. I don’t mean it doesn’t help some people. I imagine it has.
But nothing in this world will change, unless the people do.
That means, don’t just become aware; take action. Don’t just say you hate it when people commit suicide. You must actually listen to a person’s reponse when you ask if they’re okay.
So, what must we do? What’s the “cure”?
It’s no secret formula. No magic word or idea. It’s just an attitude. An attitude of investing into lives. An attitude of showing up for people. An attitude of friendliness but not fakeness. An attitude of building community.
A community of caring. So simple, yet so rare.