To Be or Not To Be . . . addendum

Please keep in mind as you read this, my heart.  I am not in a position to judge or condemn anyone, if you have read last week’s blog.  And my heart breaks for the suicidal and the problems that take them to the brink of this tragedy.  I also weep for the families and friends affected by the suicide, but we must be clear in our understanding of what the Bible teaches, as painful as that may be: suicide is never God’s will. 

There are those who think “killing” is always against the will of God, but both Hebrew and Greek have different words for “kill” and “murder,” and it is “murder” that is forbidden in the Bible.  As a wise friend of mine says, “Don’t be impressed; you can look it up.”

Suicide world wideSuicide comes under the narrower heading of “murder,” and not the more generic “killing,” because it qualifies as an act of planned slaying of oneself.  Just as the accidental killing of another person would come under the legal term of “manslaughter” and not “murder,” one’s accidental death does not involve the planning and intention required to make it “murder.”  (More on this in a minute.)  But the planned and intentional taking of another’s life IS murder, and the planned and taking of one’s own life IS ALSO murder.

The Bible never excuses one from suffering or difficulty in life, and in fact, promises that endurance of suffering can merit rewards equal to the suffering (1 Peter 4:12-15; Hebrews 12:7-11).  Furthermore there is a promise that The Creator will not test you beyond your ability to bear it (1 Corinthian 10:13).  And if that relief is to come by dying for The Name of Jesus, there is even a promise of special reward that assures the martyr that his/her death is not in vain (Revelation 6:9-11).  Paul was willing even to die for the name of Jesus (Acts 21:13) which, in fact, tradition holds that he did when he was beheaded under Emperor Nero.  In fact, all the first apostles, except John, died because of their testimony of Jesus.  It is important to note, none of these men were rebellious or troublemakers to the local government; none of them sought to take the lives of others; and none of them sought death as though they were looking for a reward.  But each of them faced death with the assurance that Jesus would be standing at the right hand of Father to greet them, just as Stephen had seen (Acts 7:54-60).

However, this bring us to another conundrum with regard to suicide.  It is my opinion that many suicides are “accidental.”  That many people “attempt” suicide and do not succeed suggests these are actually looking for help and hoping that somehow the “suicide attempt” will catch someone’s attention and bring relief to whatever problems are causing this person to tempt fate.  This may leave room for hope, even for a suicide, as his/her death may not have been as intentional as we or legal authorities may assume.  And we do not know the full extent of God’s mercy, even to one who is struggling with life problems that may have them acting foolishly.  So we must be very careful in judging if a suicide was really “self-murder.”

Suicide 1The fact is that suicide is really very simple.  That anyone would “attempt” suicide and “fail” suggests he/she really was not serious about murdering himself/herself.  The tragedy for many of these is that they over-estimate their ability to survive and such tragic deaths occur as a result of miscalculations on how many pills to take or how close to come to the railroad tracks.  So we must leave such determinations of eternal outcomes in the hands and mind of Him who knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:20-22).

We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and really very fragile.  Destroying a life is so much easier than living through one’s troubles, that it is hard to see how someone who seriously reaches that point of deciding to kill oneself would not succeed.  Recall from last week, that suicide is not an act of bravery or selflessness (with the exception of one who willingly dies to save another).

Suicide 2For someone on Warfarin (a blood thinner), a simple overdose would cause significant bleeding, and simply planning to take it before bed would assure that one would die before waking. Tylenol can be effective if one takes enough, but that is a painful and slow death, even if the overdose is discovered.  Most drugs are poison if taken in adequate quantities, and a simple online search will reveal which ones are most effective and at what dosages.

Some auto accidents are survivable, but there are very few cities that would not have precipices that would guarantee a certain death if the auto were to be driven over one of them.  I have only heard of one person who survived a self-inflicted gunshot, and that was because he chose to try a .22 caliber pistol, which left him unconscious and brain-damaged, but alive.  Any shotgun or a higher caliber pistol, like a .45 or .38 or 9mm can be very effective.

Cutting, such as slashing a wrist, is a very risky way to die, as it usually involves some time, where reconsiderations or interruptions may occur, plus you need to understand somewhat of anatomy to make sure you cut the right direction and artery.  Of course, a jump from a tall location or a step onto train tracks in front of a locomotive are also effective ways of ending one’s own life. Hanging is also a very risky way to die, as people have been known to survive for hours, and this method fails in more than 30% of attempts.

Of course, as fragile as we are, there are many other techniques for suicide, from drowning to carbon monoxide poisoning, but the last consideration is how selfish and cowardly suicide is.

Suicide 3However, as we ended last week’s blog, again, I make the appeal: If you know someone who is seriously despondent, do not fear his/her reaction to your question: “Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”  It could be a question than will save a life!

And if you are thinking about ending your life, please, I appeal to you, get help!  It is available, and your situation is not as hopeless as it seems.  As huge as your problems may be, I encourage you to see them as one would see his thumb if you held it just a few inches away from your face.  Your tiny thumb could block the entire sun, and that is what is happening when you allow problems to take you to the brink of suicide.  Take down your hand and let someone guide you to see the life that you are missing.

Most of all, consider Jesus, who for the joy before Himself, did not consider even the suffering and death on the cross to be too much to handle (Hebrews 12:2).  He offers you that same joy, if you will allow Him to enter into your life and lead you.