Anna, Texas, with a population less than two thousand, has been rocked by a series of suicides and suicide attempts. Three times in a sixteen-day stretch the police responded to calls involving apparent suicides or suicide attempts. Churches in the city urged residents to gather at Slayter Creek Park in Anna on May 19 to pray for the city, its residents and for its leaders.
Sooner or later suicide becomes personal for each of us. Someone we know, or someone close to us takes their life. A number of years ago, my cousin’s husband, a psychologist with a doctorate from SMU, wandered out into the woods behind their home, sat down at the base of a tree and shot himself.
Suicide, whenever and wherever it occurs always leaves a wide swath of emotional destruction among family members and friends leaving in its wake feelings of confusion, anger, guilt and grief. Like all wounds, time helps, but the shadows of suicide never completely disappear in the lives of those closest to the victim.
Suicide is a global problem. According to the World Health Organization, the United States is 40th in the world with 11 suicides per 100,000 persons per year. In every country, the rate of suicide is far higher among men than among women.
The primary symptoms leading to suicide appear to be depression and hopelessness. Almost everyone gets depressed at one time or another. Some of the greatest personalities in history have battled depression, including Abraham Lincoln. But when depression slips into despondency and hopelessness, an irrational moment can result in the shocking headlines we read in the newspapers.
As human beings, each of us faces a difficult moment at some point over the span of our lifetime. In today’s connected world we can span the globe on our keyboard and, at the same time, not know the name of our neighbor next door or across the street. Individuals come and go in such a hurry that the support network of family and friends has shrunk in today's society and some feel they have no place to turn.
None of us can read the minds of those around us, but each of us can resolve to be a better friend, a better listener and simply be there for others. Suicide is never God’s plan for anyone’s life. God always offers a future and a hope. He can remove the guilt that often leads to despair. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Even when circumstances are darkest and the future seems impossible, God has a way forward that we cannot see. “For I know the plans 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).
If you are despondent and have had suicidal thoughts or if you know someone who is in need of help, call the suicide and crisis center for help at 214-828-1000. You can visit their site online at www.sccenter.org. Talk to your local minister or your physician. Never give in to hopelessness. There is always hope in God. (Romans 5:1-5).