by Raymond McAlister
September 2013

Almost every pastor has held at least one funeral for someone who had taken his own life. As a pastor I have been asked not to mention the details of the death during the funeral. No one wants to talk about it, at least not in public or with the family. Losing someone by death is always traumatic for a family but losing a loved one because of a suicide heaps more stress upon them.

I am not a medical doctor, a psychiatrist or a psychologist, so anything I am about to say is strictly my own opinion and is not anything professional. 

When I think of suicide I think of two words, overwhelmed and despair. There is no one reason why people decide to end their lives. Probably in most cases a person is faced with a situation they can see no other way out of. Many times suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. 

Depression is involved in a lot of cases. I am not talking about having a down time that lasts a few days that almost everyone has. I am talking about full blown clinical depression when a person has no way to get himself out of it. The elephant sitting on the chest, the mind that won't shut off so you can sleep, the loss of interest in everything and everyone, panic attacks, and gloom, doom, and despair. Advice like "Why
don't you snap out of it?" or "I think you enjoy being like this," does not help but only makes matters worse. Praying more or reading your Bible more has little effect on this kind of depression. If you have never been there you have absolutely no idea what it is like, so please don't be judgmental of the person who is in the middle of it. 

It is even possible for a person to be in this kind of depression and you would never know it because people often put on a front. I remember once asking a man how he was, and he replied, "Too blessed to be stressed." I found out later that at the time he was going through a bout with depression and had even considered suicide. You never know.

In my opinion depression is the body's natural reaction to an overload. God won't put more on you than you can bear, but you sure will. If you are there the first thing you should do is see a medical doctor and get a complete physical exam. The problem could be physical and not mental. Sometimes depression is caused by a chemical imbalance and the doctor can prescribe a medication that will help. It may be that you will need to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist to help you sort through things and find out what caused the depression in the first place. Do whatever it takes, even if it takes a while to claw your way out of it.

As strange as it may seem, sometimes the medication given for
depression may cause thoughts of suicide. If you are on any kind of medication for depression and begin to have thoughts of suicide, contact your doctor immediately.

Back to the subject at hand. When a person has been in this kind of depression for a long time they can feel trapped and think it will never end. Sometimes suicide seems like the only option to get out of it.

Some people who are not going through depression may feel overwhelmed in a situation they can see no way out. For example, a wife may suddenly leave with another man and the husband feels his world has fallen apart and life is no longer worth living. Or, a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and feels he cannot face it. Perhaps a man unexpectedly loses the position at work he has worked so hard to attain and he cannot face life at a lower social status. All of these, of course, are not true and are actually lies of the devil. When a spouse leaves, it is not the end of the world and, with God's help, in time you can be happy again. Terminal illness? God may have some incredible experiences in store for you or there may be others who need to see how a real Christian faces death. It should be God, and not you, Who determines the length of your life. Lost all your money and social standing? Maybe you needed to learn some valuable lessons.

Remember that suicide, under whatever circumstance, is done under extreme emotional distress. 

Is suicide a sin? Of course it is. The Bible is clear that we are not to take a human life. Then can a person who commits suicide go to heaven? That depends. If a person has accepted Jesus Christ, and Him alone, as his Savior, he will go to heaven even if he commits suicide because we are saved by faith in Christ and not by our works. However, that is not the end of the story. After we die all the saved will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for the things we have done since we were saved, whether they are good or bad. This is not to determine our salvation but to determine our rewards. So, if you are saved and commit suicide, you will still have to stand before the Lord and give an account for what you have done. 

If you are, or if you ever consider suicide, please take time to
consider that this is not the only way out of your situation. What you see as being a permanent situation may actually only be temporary. Stop and think. If you do not know Jesus as your personal Savior, when you take your life things are only going to get worse. There is not any situation on earth as bad as hell. Also think of the trauma, trouble, and problems you are going to put your family, friends, and loved ones through.
If you have serious thoughts of suicide call someone immediately. Call a Suicide Prevention Hot Line (800-273-8255), call your pastor, call your doctor, call someone and explain exactly what you are feeling. 

Almost every family has been affected by a suicide. If you are one of those families, there is no reason to feel ashamed of it and there is no reason not to talk about it. Remember, when a person takes his life he is under extreme emotional distress, whether you understand it or not.
Suicide usually comes from hopeless and helpless feelings. May I tell you that things are not hopeless. The most important thing is to know Jesus as your Savior and to know that you are going to heaven. God loves you so much that He gave His Son to die for you and He has a specific plan for your life. If you will check in the Bible you will find that life was not easy for the Apostles, for Stephen, for Paul or for any other person who seriously wanted to serve God. As a matter of fact, Jesus promised persecution for all who would live Godly. God may not take you out of your situation but He will be with you, will strengthen you, and see you through the situation.