I know that by now, everyone in the world probably knows about the recent death of a famous actor and comedian earlier this week. It is a very sad situation for all of those that liked his movies and performances, his friends, co-stars, but especially for his family. That is a given for me personally, and it can be seen on social media, blogs, and throughout every medium possible today.
Let's talk about something very serious that has been brought to the forefront of lots of people's minds surrounding this death.
Death by "suicide".
What is it really when looked at from a Biblical perspective? What can Christians do to help those that might be contemplating suicide? Can others determine when someone is just right there on that edge?
I am not sure I can answer all of these questions, but I do want to study some of them as best that I can, with the word of God in hand.
I recently posted a Facebook status that read something to the effect that "suicide is a sin" and that if anyone that saw my words needed someone to talk to, needed help, or needed just a friend to pray for them, that I wanted to do all that I could. I am not a licensed counselor. I am not anyone special to talk to others about this topic. I am simply a concerned Christian.
Within just a few hours of this post, I was condemned, criticized, verbally attacked, and called names such as "inhumane, judgmental, non-compassionate, heartless, idiot (yes that was one person's thought of me), out of touch with reality, and even a poor excuse for a Christian." I removed the post due to the negativity and strife being stirred and only took to private conversation with a few of my "friends" that had decided that I was this "terrible person that they really didn't know."
Even in these conversations, I found myself defending my thoughts in a very ridiculed way. Needless to say, it was NOT the best topic of discussion that day, or the next, or even today with these friends.
However, I want to put my thoughts into better words, that hopefully will be 1. better received, 2. understood in a manner that is not condemning to anyone, 3. pointing toward the Bible in all things. So here goes...
First off, the definition of "suicide" is "the action of killing oneself intentionally." It is an action. It is real. It spans far beyond the thoughts of the heart. Now, in comparison to the Bible, God instructed Moses to deliver the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel as some of their "first laws." In this written tablet of order contained a very important commandment - "Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13)
In the New Testament, Jesus brought this same concept forward and even deepened the importance by stating that if you hate someone, you have already killed them in your heart! (Matt 5:21, Matt 19:18)
So, in a syllogism style of teaching: Suicide is killing, killing is sin - suicide IS sin. That is not being judgmental, opinionated, or even misinterpretation. It is plain and simple. The words of the Bible. The whole duty of man is to love God and keep His commandments. This is a commandment issue...not a compassion issue.
Now, let me sidestep this thought to explain something that I deem as extremely important, that a few mistook from this post on Facebook.
Depression is NOT a sin! I never said that depression is or was a sin. Please take note of this. Lots of people suffer from minor to major depression. I understand that! Depression is a very serious topic and a very serious illness. I am not discounting, judging, or condemning that now...nor have I ever. I know lots of people with variations of depression, and probably would consider that personally I get depressed more than I would like to. It happens.
This seemed to be the major sideline from the friends that I was talking with. They felt that since I believe suicide to be sinful, that depression is sinful. I believe I remember one of them stating that most suicides are people that have depression. I do not doubt that. But, they are two different elements. One is an illness, the other is an action. Suicide is not a side effect of depression (i.e., WebMD list of symptoms, treatment, side effects of depression). Depression is not an immediate forerunner of suicide either. The two are not exclusively linked to each other any more than the story that I read last night about a young man being shot to death as a result of a possible bad drug deal. Drug deals don't all end in murder...although some do, and every murder is not related to a drug deal.
Mr. Williams was quoted in 2006, posted on several websites, stating that he was not clinically depressed. He said, "No. Not clinical depression. I just get bummed out like everyone does sometimes. You know? I'm okay." He went on to talk about his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which, by the way, can be side effects of depression.
That does not mean that Robin Williams did not have any type of depression at all, nor does it mean that he did not change in the 8 years since; but, it also does not mean that he had to commit suicide. And I wish that he had not. My wish would have been that he reached out to someone and also to God instead of being known to be a man of sacrilegious comments, borderline atheism, and possibly lost on the day of his death.
That is what my post was about, not condemning or judging someone for suicide; although, John 7:24 spells out that the Bible is what judges men and we can call "sin" "sin" by that basis; but, altogether opposite. My post was about opening my heart to anyone that is hurting so bad that they feel that death is their only way to be better, offering any help that I can. Am I qualified for it? Not really medically or scientifically. The Bible is my battle weapon though, and it is well qualified. Suicide is not the answer. God says that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can bear, and that He will give an escape. Suicide is a temptation for those that can't find their way out. God has provided a way out. Otherwise, He would not be a fair God! I also want to add that I do believe that God will approach judgment with those affected by true mental incompetence differently. I may be wrong, but that IS what I believe.
I truly hope that those that misunderstood my words will read this message and understand that this is a much deeper subject than most of us will ever imagine to understand. I also truly hope that if there is anyone that ever reads this blog post that has or is contemplating suicide...please don't! God loves you! I love your soul! Others love you! Reach out to a minister, a counselor, a friend, a loved one, or even a suicide hotline. Don't make a decision that others will regret!
In Christian love,