Because of stigma, most obituaries do not mention the word suicide. It seems to me the most common label used in obituaries is "died unexpectedly," or “died suddenly" A very sad report came out of the Saddleback Church this past weekend. Rick Warren is the well-known pastor of this mega church in California. His son, Matthew, committed suicide Friday.
Because of Pastor Warren's fame (much of it has come after he wrote (A Purpose Driven Life), a window has been opened that creates an opportunity for a national discussion about suicide.
Suicide is responsible for 49.1% of violent deaths worldwide. This is much more than both homicides and war related deaths. It is a global problem.
I have written a number of blogs on the subject of suicide. My own sister, Cyndi, committed suicide in 2006. She was a mother of three children who were sixteen, fourteen and twelve years of age at the time. I will be discussing the very important topic suicide in blogs during the next week.
Robyn and I are co-authors of a book called, Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. The biggest chapter is on suicide. It is available both in Kindle and paper back.
It is published by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids, MI, USA. For reviews and to purchase, please go to http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Minds-Healing-Youre-Losing/dp/0825421187
We thank him for his contribution and we continue to pray for the Warrens and this epidemic of suicide.
Dr. Randy Isaac
Bible verses may not always have the impact we intend. Seed that falls on one type of soil will get a different response than seed on another type of soil. We must be careful how we apply verses.
I’ve learned the hard way that a Bible verse that means one thing to me will have an entirely different impact on someone with bipolar disorder. For an example, consider the different connotations that one particular verse might have. I Corinthians 10:13 is frequently quoted by many Christians. The NIV renders it this way: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” The Greek word for “temptation” or “tempted” can also mean “tested” but often informal use just substitutes “given” as in “you will not be given anything beyond what you can bear,” implicitly broadening the meaning far beyond either temptation or testing.
While this verse serves as encouragement to most people who are comforted by the thought that God limits the extent of suffering to something short of being intolerable, others may not see it that way. Don’t be surprised if someone with depression or other mental illness responds in one or more of these ways.
“That shows I’m a failure.” I’m already beyond the point of enduring the mental anguish. It just shows that I’m such a failure I can’t even endure what the Bible says I can.
“God is against me.” Instead of providing a safety net to keep me from getting more than I can bear, He is pushing me to see if I really can endure it. I’m alone in this fight against God.
“I don’t need to take my meds or get therapy.” If God won’t let my problems get worse than I can bear, why bother getting treatment? It won’t become intolerable no matter what I do or don’t do.
“I’ll die anyway.” Being able to “endure it” doesn’t mean I won’t die. Almost all the apostles were martyrs and surely this verse applied to them. This is no guarantee I’ll survive.
“Praise God and die.” If failing to endure means to follow Job’s wife’s advice and “Curse God and die,” why don’t I just “Praise God and die” to relieve all this anguish, make it easier on my friends and family, and see my Maker sooner to find out what this anguish was all about.
“I am all alone.” Everyone else seems to endure their temptation with ease and walk around with a smile on their face. I alone am singled out to be stretched to the limit.
“This doesn’t apply to me.” Who says that “temptation” or “testing” relates to mental illness? Aren’t depression and other mental illnesses due to genetic and biochemical imbalances? Would you quote this verse to someone struggling with terminal cancer?
Seeing the world through the black-tinted glasses of someone tormented with mental illness, a verse that is comforting to so many people may come across as harsh and taunting. Well-trained counselors are familiar with this response and know how to gauge a person’s reaction. Poorly-trained counselors and well-meaning friends and family often toss out biblical quotes such as these and are puzzled by the reaction. What someone afflicted with mental illness needs most of all is not a litany of Bible verses but professional help and empathetic, unconditional love from family, friends, and the church.