A hard to write article about a hard subject: #SuicideIsNotPainless.
that suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
and to another give my seat
for that’s the only painless feat.
~ “Suicides Is Painless”, Lyrics from http://artists.letssingit.com/mash-lyrics-suicide-is-painless-kdv9zd1#ixzz3T5rj4Mm1
According to Wikipedia, the lyrics for “Suicide Is Painless” was specifically written for the movie MAS*H under two conditions. The first was the name, as it was specifically for a faux suicide scene. The second was that it be the “stupidest song ever written”.
I think it succeeded. Suicide is all about pain. It is seen as a way out of pain, but in reality it creates even more pain.The past couple of weeks, I have read and heard so much about suicide. Even just this evening, I read that sports figure “Ray Rice ‘I Understand Why People Commit Suicide‘”. Recently, a Missouri politician’s son carried out suicide. Of course, it doesn’t seem that long ago that Robin Williams had taken his own life. It is just proof that money and fame don’t solve all of your personal problems. In fact, they can aggravate existing problems, which in due course creates new ones.
There is no doubt that the number of suicides is alarming. In 2005, the number of suicides was twice the number of homicides. If that isn’t alarming, as of 2012, “Suicide Now Kills More Americans Than Car Crashes“. It has become such a social problem that social media giant “Facebook Wants to Use Its Interface to Stop Suicide“.
Sometimes, it hits closer to home. The first wife of one of my cousins took her own life several years ago, and a brother of the same cousin was killed on railroad tracks, which may or may not have been intentional.
Just a week ago, I learned that a friend’s son took his own life, which is particularly hard, as he was a very young man with the rest of his life ahead of him. It is hard enough when someone is old and sick, but at least it is understandable when one knows they are dying anyhow. When it is someone young, no matter the problems, it is never easy.
I won’t lie. I don’t want to write this. It’s bad enough that Americans have a funny way of not looking at and not dealing with death. It is almost as though ignoring it will make it go away. However, when it comes to suicide, the resistance to dealing with it is three times harder.
Suicide can cause all sorts of questions for the survivors. Many of them are phrased as “Could I…” or “Should I…?” Could you have done something different? Should you have seen the signs?
The truth is that those questions are never easy to answer and can never truly be known. Would, could and should are all well and good for normal events, but dwelling on them will not bring the person back. It’s not like you want to believe that someone near you can, let alone want to, take their own life.
While those questions can never be 100% answered, it should be remembered that the person contemplating suicide is in a downward spiral that feeds upon itself. All negative things are exaggerated, while all positive things are discounted. It truly is likely that there would have been nothing you could have done or said differently.
Of course, the problem is that you will never be able to ask them. Anger is a normal response to such a dilemma, but as in tall things, you must sooner or later forgive.
If you are contemplating suicide, it might be that you want to “get back” or “show them”. You won’t. All you will do is cause more questions, and those questions will never be answered in any satisfactory manner.
The Unpardonable Sin
Catholics believe suicide is a “grave matter”, which places it under the category of a “mortal sin“. Even some Protestants consider suicide as the “unpardonable” or “unforgivable sin”.
Catholics get the idea of a mortal sin from 1Jn 5:16-17 (NASB):
16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
Protestants get the idea of the unpardonable sin from the words of Jesus:
28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:
29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
That last verse is the key to understanding. The Pharisees were accusing Jesus of healing by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. They were rejecting the power of God in their presence.
8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
The complete rejection of God’s saving power through Jesus Christ is the only sin that cannot be forgiven, for it requires the lack of repentance that accompanies it.
Suicide is not the unpardonable sin! It calls into question the state of one’s actual conversion, perhaps, but that is not for you and I to decide. It does not mean one is eternally lost, however.
Of course, that is a long way off from calling it right or even not calling it wrong. Murder is a sin, and it doesn’t matter whether it is your own life or someone else’s.
And, in reality, therein lies the key, doesn’t it? Your life is not your own, in spite of what Hollywood would have you believe. God gave you life, and it in reality belongs to Him! Suicide is not just murder, but it is also theft when you consider the bigger picture.
Pain Is Where the Character Is
However, it goes beyond that even. Life involves all sorts of pain, and suicide is the attempt to escape that pain. That ignores an inconvenient fact, though. Life doesn’t just involve pain. Life is all about pain.
Pain and suffering reveals who and what you truly are. It is easy to cover up your real self with money, relationships, work or material blessings, but take all of that away, and you can see yourself as you really are. It’s easy to be loving when you aren’t surrounded by haters. It’s easy to be generous when you have lots of money. It’s easy to volunteer when you have your health. Take those away, however, and what is left?
The rich and famous of this world really don’t need to face their problems because they hide behind their fame and fortune. As a result, it is a real struggle for them to spiritually grow. In fact, it is a lot like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle (Mt 19:24)! It is far too easy for those who have it easy to believe that they deserve it all.
It has taken me a long time to accept that sometimes trials are a type of blessing. Without the pain involved, we would likely rest on our laurels and not grow.
Suicide cuts short the plan of God for your life. It cuts short the amount of blessings He can provide to you in this life and probably the next as well.
One large area of concern is loneliness. Once depression sets in, some people will want to segregate themselves from others, but that then turns into loneliness. It is almost always self-inflicted loneliness, though!
However, loneliness should guide us towards God rather than to suicide. Loneliness is the reminder that we need others, including God. If our relationship with Him is not right, then it is up to us to make it right and quit pushing everyone away!
Prayer, Bible study, meditation and occasional fasting are essential. They aren’t just trite little customs, but they are tools to draw closer to Almighty God.
God gives us an assembly of believers for various reasons, but one of the major ones is so that we can know and experience that we are not alone. We have more ways to keep in touch than ever before. Use them!
A Positive Way of Thinking
I’m not so big on the whole “positive attitude” thing. Most people who preach positive attitudes make it sound like you should never be sad, angry or upset, and that is about as unrealistic as it gets.
However, you cannot read Philippians 4 without coming away with the feeling that hoarding negative thoughts is against God’s will. Whenever you are dealing with tough situations or tough people, we are admonished to first of all dwell on what is “true”. Telling white lies is not how we are supposed to get through our lives. However, it goes on to say to think about the things that are lovely, of good report, of virtue … all positive things, doesn’t it?
We have, or should have, all heard sermons about being careful what we take into our minds. How many actually practice this today? Negative music, negative TV shows, negative movies, etc., are all around us. Negative influences can come from one proclaiming to be speaking for God, even.
It all takes a toll on us. Our minds and hearts are fragile things, when it comes down to it. We need to be mindful and purposeful about this.
Depression is a form of meditation as much as the right form of meditation is. The difference is that it leads to a downward spiral. It is also based at least in part on exaggerated lies. That is why Paul listed “true” first. If it isn’t true, then it cannot be uplifting in the long run!
Meditating upon the Psalms is one good way to break the cycle. Many of them contain negative elements, but then they are brought into focus by the truth. That is why we must force ourselves to look squarely and truthfully at the situation and not exaggerate either the positive or negative aspects. In the end, the truth will make us free.
Do Unto Others
Finally, if nothing else sinks in, then how would you feel if a loved one of yours committed suicide?
Oddly enough, sometimes people do commit suicide after someone close to them already has. This is the oddest situation, for who are you thinking of if you then turn around and do the same? How did that person’s death make you feel? Why would you want to create that same feeling in others?
A person committing suicide usually doesn’t feel like anyone else does care. Of course, that is not true. It is another, and perhaps the biggest, of the exaggerated lies that the enemy can feed you.
If you love someone, it is not normal to want to cause them pain. Whatever the reason, you will hurt others if you take your own life. That is not showing love, that is not doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and that leaves behind memories of pain and sorrow that you have caused.
Is that what you really want?
No Problem Too Big For God
Remember, God created not only you, but He created this world and the entire universe. He created whomever and whatever is causing your problems, and He can take care of it.
In the end, that is where our pain should take us: To our knees in frank and honest prayer. He will listen, and He will provide.