Last week, a friend of mine committed suicide. Those are difficult words to type. Many of us at Southview knew him and consider him a friend, and this has been a challenging and difficult week as we seek to process what he did.
Right now at Southview, we’re in a series of messages called “Overwhelmed.” When we planned this series last fall, we planned for messages on being overwhelmed by the “perfect parents” around us, on being overwhelmed by anxiety, and on being overwhelmed by depression. We had no idea what this week would hold.
This Sunday, I’ll be speaking on a topic we didn’t plan to discuss – suicide. I want to walk through what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about this topic. In recent days I’ve seen a lot of things being said online that are unbiblical and unhelpful, and I want to teach about what the Bible says on this very difficult topic.
We don’t talk a lot about suicide and depression in the church today. And I don’t believe that’s right, because it affects so many people. There has been a stigma, a sense of judgmentalism, around this topic, despite the fact that so many have encountered it among those they know. I’ve heard so few sermons on this topic, so little teaching about something that affects so many.
- 37,000 people will take their own life this year.
- Once every 15 minutes, someone in the US takes their own life.
- Once every forty seconds, someone in the world takes their own life.
- The greatest number of suicides happen with white males age 45-64.
- Suicide is now between the second and third leading cause of death for those age 15-24.
- The leading cause of death by suicide is clinical depression.
- Almost everyone has at least a distant experience with suicide in their extended family or circle of friends, if not closer.
It is normal at times like this to have questions. I know that questions, thoughts, and emotions have been running through my mind during the last 4 days. That’s normal. But my goal as a pastor is to help us look at and interpret our experiences through the lens of Scripture – to examine what God says about our circumstances and what happens in our world – and allow what He says to influence and direct our thoughts, our words, and our feelings.
Leaders, we can’t and shouldn’t avoid the tough topics. Especially when addressing them could bring hope to someone who’s struggling today.