Tonight I am going to teach a much needed study at the youth group, the title of this article. Working with youth and young adults, I realize that many of them deal with suicide issues (either their own or their friends). The Bible is useful for every aspect of life and suicide prevention is no exception. I want to teach what the Bible says about the subject, and most important, how to prevent it from happening. Have you ever confronted suicidal thoughts? Have you ever known friends who threatened suicide? If you did not know how to respond then I pray that this lesson will help prepare you for the next time.
Here are some stats on suicide from 2005.
- 32,637 (officially, probably many more unofficial)
- Men are 4 times more likely than women to commit suicide
- The most at risk group, 65 + years old
- Second most at risk group, 15-24 years old
- Escape from shame (Abimelec)
- Bad decisions in life (Samson)
- Lack of courage (Saul)
- Irresponsible (Saul’s armor bearer)
- Things do not go your way (Ahitofel)
- Cowardice (Zimri)
- No hope for redemption (Judas)
Here are some of the feelings that people have before committing suicide:
- No hope
- Drug dependency
- Controlled by anger
I would like to share 7 steps to prevention, all from a Biblical perspective.
I. Take the threat seriously
Many times we think that people just want attention when threatening suicide, and many times that may be the case, but as children of God, we must take the lives of others very seriously because God takes life very seriously.
16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4)
God takes a relationship with us very seriously. He waits for us to draw near to Him so that He can help us. If we have drawn near to Him then we should take life and relationships with others very seriously, especially when someone mentions suicide. That is usually a cry for help which we will see in the next point. Take is seriously. Do not joke around or take it lightly.
29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10)
Do not insult the person by not caring or by not taking the threat seriously.
II. It is a cry for help
By sharing the desire to commit suicide the person is crying out to you for help.
23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. (Exodus 2)
God hears when people cry out for help. He does not turn a deaf ear. When you hear someone mention suicide, it is more than likely a plea for help. Do not turn a deaf ear. Do as God does and answer the cry for help. Do not be indifferent.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, And be gracious to me and answer me. (Psalm 27)
God shows grace or mercy to us by listening to our cry for help. If someone is crying out for help in the form of suicide threats, take it seriously, recognize it as a plea for help, and spend time listening to that person. They probably feel isolated and like no one cares about them. You be the one to show that you care by listening to them.
12 “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry ; Do not be silent at my tears (Psalm 39)
2 Hear my prayer, O God ; Give ear to the words of my mouth. (Psalm 54)
Do not be silent to this plea for help. Being silent means turning away and pretending like you did not hear or see anything. As a child of God, you are obligated to help those who are in need (that is what God did for you, when you were an enemy of His, He came and made a way for you to come back to Him). Answer the call for help by listening to the person and then doing what you can to help.
26 “There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help, And through the skies in His majesty. 27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms ; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, ‘Destroy !’ 28 “So Israel dwells in security, The fountain of Jacob secluded, In a land of grain and new wine ; His heavens also drop down dew. 29 “Blessed are you, O Israel ; Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, Who is the shield of your help And the sword of your majesty ! So your enemies will cringe before you, And you will tread upon their high places.” (Deut 33)
God does not just hear our cries, He does not just take them seriously, He comes to help when we cry out to Him and He wants His people to be like Him.
“You shall not see your countryman’s donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up. (Deut. 22)
God values life and we should too if we are His children. If we see a need, especially where life is involved, then we are obligated to help. If we hear someone who threatens suicide then we need to do what we can to help save that person’s life.
10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you, to possess it.’ ” 12 To the Reubenites and to the Gadites and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, ‘The LORD your God gives you rest and will give you this land.’ 14 “Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall remain in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but you shall cross before your brothers in battle array, all your valiant warriors, and shall help them, 15 until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise .” 16 They answered Joshua, saying, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. (Joshua 1)
The two and 1/2 tribes had already received their land as an inheritance. They could have rested and enjoyed what they had earned but God taught them through Moses to help their brothers gain their inheritance first and then enjoy their inheritance all together. As believers we are to be the same way. We are not to be selfish and worry about ourselves only. We are to worry about the people around us, helping them whenever we have the opportunity and the means. When someone threatens suicide, that should drive you to want to help that person, to take action for the good of that person who is in need. After you take the threat seriously, recognize the plea for help, listen to the person, and decide to help then you need to follow this advice . . .
V. Do not leave the person alone
If you are not physically present with the person then do what you can to get that person with you or go to that person. If the distance is too great then get someone you know in the area to pay the person a visit. The person who considers suicide should not be left alone.
VI. Tell your pastor or church leader
14 Is anyone among you sick ? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord ; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5)
Thoughts of suicide is a form of sickness, mental sickness. You need to share with your pastor or leader in the church so that he can help you in the situation. If the person who is considering suicide attends a local church then you need to share this with his or her church leader as well as with your own. Pray for the person as the pastor or church leader gets involved, that the advice from the Word will help. There is one more thing that you must do . . .
VII. Fully dedicate yourself to help
Do it immediately. Do not wait one second. Call the right people. Call the person and help him or her get out of this irrational state. Once the primary actions have been taken then you need to get involved long term. This person obviously trusts you or he or she would not have appealed to you for help. The Bible tells us we are to make disciples by teaching people how to study and live by the Word of God. Take that person under your wing as a disciple. Meet together on a weekly basis to study the Bible together, to pray together, to keep each other accountable. Get involved in the ministries of your local church so that you can avoid isolation and depression as well as suicidal thoughts by serving the Lord in the form of serving others. You can make a difference in a person’s life the same way that God made a difference in your own life. Are you ready and willing? It is a high calling but it must be answered by those who claim to be the children of God.
P.S. If the person is struggling with the following feelings:
- No hope
- Drug dependency
- Controlled by anger
The Word of God has the answer:
17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. 20 He keeps all his bones, Not one of them is broken. (Ps. 34:17-20)
11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1) in order to be in His shadow, He has to be right above you and very close to you
30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) In order to take on Jesus’ yoke, the one that you were under must first be broken. He breaks it for you so you will no longer be controlled by anything but His love.
Controlled by anger (Romans 6) The entire passage talks about how we are no longer controlled by sin once we come to Christ. He sets us free from the power of sin and we are able to say no to sin and temptation moment by moment. Anger will not longer eat you alive because you now have power over it.