A colleague of mine messaged. His brother-in-law took his life. He jumped off his tenth floor apartment. He suffered from schizophrenia since his teens. He was aged 55.
That incident saddens me. It also stirs my thoughts on suicide.
When I visited, several friends and family members were shocked into disbelief that a young man would suddenly take his own life.
The deceased’s sister was deeply distraught. In between her sobs and wails, she felt the stab of guilt. “If I had stayed with him … if only I knew … the warning signs … What if I had the chance of preventing him from ending his life?”
Questions like these torment us till no end.
But no one is to be blamed. For we cannot change and control the choices of another person. We must not bear the guilt and accept the responsibility of another person’s decision.
Still I can imagine the burden of pain that bears down on a person to make such a life-ending decision.
Even for some godly men when the pain became too severe, too great and too heavy to bear, they contemplated suicide.
Moses, the great leader of the people in exodus, was under tremendous stress, pressure and failure when he expressed thoughts of giving up leading and living.
“I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now – if I have found favour in Your sight – and do not let me see my wretchedness!” (Numbers 11:14-15).
The prophet Elijah in his most vulnerable moment of fear and exhaustion had serious thoughts of ending his life.
“And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (I Kings 19:4).
The prophet Jonah in his anger and frustration also entertained thoughts of suicide.
“And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:8).
If these great men of God can be driven into entertaining thoughts of suicide, what more ordinary Christian believers?
I empathise with those who see no hope in their grief, losses, depression, illness, disorders, financial problems, remorse, rejection, abuse, relationship breakup and unemployment.
The list of causes is unending. The pressure to quit is unimaginable. The trigger to end life is unpredictable.
I am not advocating suicides. Suicide is self-murder, which is a violation of God’s command (Exodus 20:13).
Rather, I am urging us to reserve judgement. Perhaps those who took their lives were not rushing to their death but running from their pain.
In a time such as this, our anchor is a God who sympathizes with our weakness, our pain and the limits of our endurance.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16).