Welcome to the How to be Saved from Suicide podcast. This is episode #1. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help confront, from a biblical perspective, the tragic epidemic of suicide in our world today, which has even seen a spate of self-professing Christians in positions of ministerial leadership—namely, pastors—take their own lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 (this year) the rate of death by suicide will increase to one every 20 seconds. As the apostle James wrote in his epistle on a different matter, “My brethren these things ought not so to be.”
Our scripture passage for this episode of the How to be Saved from Suicide podcast is Psalm 34:18-19 which says, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
Our quote for this episode of the How to be Saved from Suicide podcast is from Billy Graham. He said, “Whenever someone writes to say they’re thinking about taking their own life, I wish I could sit down with them and do everything I possibly could to encourage them and persuade them not to take that final, drastic step. No matter how hard life has gotten, I know that with God there is hope….Suicide is extremely serious and tragic in God’s eyes and if someone who is reading this is contemplating suicide, I beg of you to reconsider and seek help for whatever your problem may be. God loves you—whether you believe it or not—and He does not want you to end your life. Satan does, however—and you must not listen to him.”
In this podcast, we are going through the book: “Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors” by Karen Mason.
We start today with the Introduction (Part 1).
Most suicides, although by no means all, can be prevented.
Kay Redfield Jamison
I am not sure when it finally hit me that suicide can be prevented. I think it was somewhere in a therapy session several years ago with Jane, a woman who suffered from multiple personalities who had been suicidal all her life. I realized one day that she hadn’t yet killed herself and she wanted me to help her not do so. I was somewhat afraid to wade into a life-and-death issue and not very optimistic, but I was willing to try for her sake. As a psychologist I also had a professional commitment to prevent suicide. Typically suicide prevention involves hospitalizing suicidal clients and Jane wanted to stay out of the hospital. I wasn’t sure this was doable or how to do it.
All this occurred for me within a complicated set of attitudes toward suicide picked up throughout my life. As I had read Sophocles and Shakespeare, as I had watched films and news reports on suicide, I had begun to develop the expectation that certain clients in certain situations might claim a right to suicide. I was intrigued by the fact that Jane did not. I realize now that, in these depictions of suicide, I was absorbing diverse attitudes about suicide that I needed to examine, because attitudes can affect behaviors. Some depictions of suicide were affecting my attitudes and muddling my thinking about how to help Jane.
Diverse Depictions of Suicide
Here are some typical depictions of suicide that may affect attitudes about suicide and suicide prevention:
Suicide as duty. An example of a duty suicide is a Hindu widow who immolates herself on her deceased husband’s funeral pyre. This type of suicide, though considered a duty, also had a voluntary aspect, as is evidenced by the fact that although the British declared this type of suicide illegal in 1829, they found it difficult to stop the practice. Central African and Melanesian wives were buried alive with their deceased husbands, and among the Natchez of North America and the Maoris the wife was strangled. I remember seeing a television program on old gypsies who were too feeble to migrate across the great rivers of Europe who stayed behind to die for the good of the family group. A captain going down with his sinking ship is a modern version of a duty or honor suicide.
Suicide when honor is at stake. A second depiction is that suicide is honorable in certain situations. The Japanese custom of hara-kiri, a type of honor suicide reserved for nobility and members of the military caste, is described by Fedden as follows:
In 1868 twenty Japanese knights involved in the murder of a French officer were condemned to execute hari-kari before the French ambassador. The latter, however, found it impossible to appreciate to the full this token of Nipponese friendship. When eleven of the victims had done their duty he could bear the sight no longer and the remainder were reprieved and banished.
The high honor of this type of suicide led Seneca to describe Cato’s suicide like this: “Surely the gods looked with pleasure upon their pupil as he made his escape by so glorious and memorable an end!” A more modern example of honor suicide would be Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II.
Suicide as political protest. As in the case of suicide bombers in the Middle East, suicide has been used as political protest. In A.D. 73, 960 Jews died together by suicide at Masada. Gandhi’s several fasts were threats of suicide for political purposes. Jan Palach immolated himself in Prague in 1969 to protest the demoralization of the Czech people after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk, burned himself to death at a Saigon intersection on June 11, 1963, to protest the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s government. On November 18, 1978, 914 adherents to Jim Jones’s People’s Temple killed themselves. Jim Jones is reported to have said, “We are not committing suicide; we are committing a revolutionary act.”
Lord willing, we will continue looking at this subject in our next episode.
— PRAYER —
Now, if you do not have hope in God because you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”