Death by Suicide

Wrapping your mind around suicide. How can one do that? It’s senseless. Selfish. Cruel. Needless. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. So many words and phrases come to mind when trying to understand the mind and motives of a friend or loved one who commits such an unbelievable act.

I’m reeling from the news that a dear friend died in such a way a couple of months ago. I’m just now hearing this, so my grief is fresh and pierces my heart with sorrow—and yes, some anger, as well.

He’s been on antidepressants for years. Lately he started drinking more and more heavily. Alcohol + antidepressants is a terrible combination and the literature clearly states that if you’re on an antidepressant, you must avoid alcohol. Too few people read the literature, though. Too few know what a dangerous combination this is.

My friend was so drunk one night that his anger and emotion tangled with his ability to think rationally, and he took his life in a moment of time when he could think of no other way out of his pain and fear. I truly don’t think he could have/would have done this when in his right mind.

When he pulled that trigger, he set into play a cascade of consequences—none of them good. His family, his friends—so many friends—were plunged into grief that has no words, only disbelief and pain too intense to describe.

Another consequence is the “if only” syndrome. If only I’d known he was so disturbed. If only he had called me, had given me the chance to talk to him. If only I’d stayed in closer touch with him. If only . . . 

In my book, Sunsets: Reflections for Life’s Final Journey, I quoted Erwin Lutzer, who wrote, “Let me encourage you to take those ‘if onlys’ and draw a circle around them. Then label the circle, ‘The providence of God.’ The Christian believes that God is greater than our ‘if onlys.’ His providential hand encompasses the whole of our lives, not just the good days, but the ‘bad’ days too. We have the word accident in our vocabulary; He does not.”

In the chapter on death, I wrote about suicide. “A moment of thoughtlessness leaves loved ones struggling with anguish, confusion, guilt, and pain. Suicide is the ultimate selfishness.” I still believe that.

I know some people suffer unbelievable pain—physical or emotional—that I cannot truly fathom. But, if you are toying with suicidal thinking, please talk to someone—anyone!! Call a pastor, trusted friend, or suicide prevention hotline (800-273-8255).

Whatever you’re dealing with can be resolved. Tomorrow things may change! A month from now the whole problem could be a thing of the past! A year from now, you may not even remember today’s dilemmas. There are always better options than suicide.

Please, choose life!

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