Welcome to the How to be Saved from Suicide podcast. This is episode #10. 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 Psalms 13:2-3 which says, “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;”
Our quote for this episode of the How to be Saved from Suicide podcast is from Juliette Lewis. She said, “The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”
In this podcast, we are going through the book: “Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors” by Karen Mason.
We continue today with Chapter 1: Who Dies By Suicide? (Part 3).
Females. Though men die at greater rates than women, we cannot worry less about women. McKeon writes, “It is critical to remember that even if a group has a lower suicide rate than the national average this does not mean that hundreds, if not thousands, from that demographic group may not die by suicide every year.” Not only do women die, but one study found that women attempted suicide five times more often than men. In 2010 in the United States women had a higher attempt rate (180.59 per 100,000) than men (131.67 per 100,000). And it is likely that these numbers are underestimates, because not everyone who attempts suicide actually goes to a hospital emergency department. Robins provides an example of a 34-year-old woman who attempted suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills but whose children kept her awake with coffee and walking. The woman was never seen by medical professionals. When she was later hospitalized, she denied any previous attempts. As another example, one of my clients took pills intending to harm herself. She woke up later and never went to an emergency room, so her attempt was never reported.
Pastoral caregivers need to be concerned about women because women tend to experience higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders such as depression than men (though men have higher rates of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and substance disorders). In the next section of this chapter we’ll see that mental disorders increase the risk of suicide. Women also report more suicidal ideation. They tend to experience more sexual abuse and intimate partner violence, which are associated with higher rates of suicide attempts. But women may be more protected because they seek mental health care more than men and have higher involvement in religion and in social networks. Their greater help-seeking suggests that pastors may encounter more suicidal women than men in their ministry.
Does this information help identify the Jim or Joan in your congregation? It prompts us to realize that, as a man, Jim is part of a group with high suicide rates, but women also die by suicide, and they think about and attempt suicide more than men.
Race. The 2010 US suicide rate for whites is 14.13 per 100,000 people. For blacks it’s 5.1 people per 100,000, for American Indian/Alaska natives it’s 11 per 100,000, and for Asian/Pacific Islanders it’s 6.24 per 100,000 people who die by suicide. Of the 30,277 men who died of suicide in 2010 in the United States, 27,422 were white, 1,755 were black, 344 were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 756 were Asian/Pacific Islanders. White individuals also made up the majority of suicide attempts. People from all races die by suicide, though white individuals have higher rates. Suicide surveillance, or tracking who dies by suicide, has given us some helpful information about the higher risk of white middle-aged males for death and young white females for attempts.
But it also shows us that people across all age groups and races and in both sexes die by suicide or attempt suicide. Another question we can ask to help identify the Jim or Joan in our faith community is, what factors are related to suicidal thinking? Just as weight, diet, stress, genetics and smoking may be related to high blood pressure, what factors might be related to Jim’s suicidal thinking? And will these factors help identify Joan?
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.”