I TRIED TO KILL MYSELF IN 1989. Things were tough, I was deeply in debt, drug addicted and thinking things were never going to change. I tried to take the selfish way out because I had no hope.
My Uncle Brent shot himself through the heart with a deer rifle when I was a little kid because he had no hope.
Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain took their lives despite the fact that they were rich and famous because they had no hope.
According to the Centers for Disease Control suicide rates have gone up 30% since 1999 “among both sexes, all racial/ethnic groups, and all urbanization levels.” More than half of these individuals had no mental health issues.
The World Health Organization reports that nearly 800,000 people take their own lives each year—one person every 40 seconds—and for every successful attempt, twenty more try. 45,000 people died in America by their own hands in 2016.
Some people believe in the false notion that once this life ends all their problems will be over because there is nothing after death, we just get buried in the ground. That is suicide’s appeal. That everything will be better.
When I tried to take my life nearly thirty years ago I didn’t think of the afterlife nor the people I would leave behind; I just wanted out. Life was overwhelming. I thought there was nothing to live for anymore.
Then I met Jesus Christ. After rejecting him for years, I was finally at a place where I could listen to his voice, the one reminding me that I could “cast all my anxiety on him because he cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). And, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28). His promise to me then and to all who believe now is that “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Franklin Graham wrote, “There is only One who can give us the hope we need—Jesus Christ. God created each one of us, and there is a void in every life that can only be filled by a relationship with Him. People try to be good, people try religion, people try success—but peace and hope do not come from those things. Religion can’t save you—only a relationship with Jesus Christ can give you the hope and purpose that you need in life.”
A full life does not mean life without problems and disappointments. No, a full life necessarily means that you will experience all of that, plus the good things, too. Life with Jesus means confronting those challenges head-on knowing he is with you, even to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). There will no longer be a need to escape by drugs or by drink. Or by suicide.
This year has been the most difficult and excruciating time I’ve ever experienced, yet, never once did I entertain suicidal thoughts. In fact, since I gave my life over to my God in 1990, I never had those thoughts again. Why? I know I’m loved by my Father in Heaven who has promised to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5). Also, I became a member of a new family, my church family, when I became born again all those years ago. I belong to a community of believers whom I love and they love me as well.
“We now have a sizeable body of medical research,” Aaron Kheriaty writes in First Things, “which suggests that prayer, religious faith, participation in a religious community, and practices like cultivating gratitude, forgiveness, and other virtues can reduce the risk of depression [and], lower the risk of suicide.”
One study of 89,000 people showed that those “who attend any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide” than those who don’t. In a study “of 6,999 [church-going] women who attended [church]…more than once a week, none committed suicide.”
But it’s more than just attending, it’s participating—being active—in a local fellowship because it reduces isolation and hopelessness.
Do you lack hope? Are you struggling with loneliness and depression? Suicidal thoughts? Give your life over to Jesus and go to church. You will experience the ultimate hope that comes with the understanding that you were made for a purpose and that you belong.
If you have any questions, I’m here for you.