This is one of the saddest sentences I’ve ever written: suicide is the 2nd-leading cause of death for people aged 15-34.
In recent days we’ve watched the news with despair as two well-known celebrities took their own lives. The first was fashion designer Kate Spade, who hung herself in Manhattan on June 5th. Three days later, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain also hung himself in France. Their deaths shocked the world, and has caused people from every walk of life to ask all sorts of questions.
Why did they kill themselves?
Why didn’t they say anything?
What could we have done to stop it?
How can we prevent further suicides?
In the days following their deaths, calls to the suicide hotline jumped over 25%. It’s clear that these public passings have sparked an urge in people who might be contemplating an irreversible act to reach out for help. That’s a good thing. However, it’s also an indication that something is seriously wrong, especially among our young people.
When I first read that suicide statistic for the 15-34 crowd (of which I belong), I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. It took me a moment to accept that people with their whole lives ahead of them would be so discouraged, so disappointed, and so hopeless that they believe ending it all is the best option. When you’re young, you have the whole world at your fingertips. Your body feels great, your mind is sharp, and you have unending dreams. But society is being forced to reflect on the suicide issue, and here’s my conclusion:
We have thrown away God, and with Him went our reason for living.
Consider this: we are much more likely to take our own lives than the lives of others. In 2016, there were 45,000 suicides compared to only 17,000 homicides. In other words, when we get angry, depressed, or feel isolated, we lash inwards more than we lash outwards. Why?
The reason we attack our own bodies and give up on our souls is because we have convinced ourselves that nothing is worth living for. Despite what Hollywood wants you to believe, satisfaction cannot come from casual sex, drugs, constant entertainment, or even relationships with other people. You will never feel whole on the inside without a connection to God. He created each us all, and when we give in to our sin nature without restraint, we are not allowing Him the opportunity to fix our spirit. God brings purpose, and without Him there is meaninglessness.
Suicide is a spirit issue. You cannot be in your right mind and take your life.
Naturalists who deny the existence of a Creator believe we are here by random chance. The universe is one big accident with no meaning, no purpose, and no important conclusion. To them, the day will eventually come when the universe runs out of energy and everything is destroyed in a comic annihilation. All life and matter will cease to exist, and this too is irrelevant, because it all happened by mistake in the first place.
But to the believer, God created us and the universe around us (Psalm 24:1). He knew us before we drew our first breath (Jeremiah 1:5). He sees all our successes and failures (Psalm 121:8). He guides our steps and orders our paths (Proverbs 16:9). His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are above our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). To the believer, there is purpose in life, because our dead, dry spirits have given way to His life-giving, purpose-instilling Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). God’s Word is valuable, information, encouraging and true, regardless of how naturalist seek to ignore or deny it.
The life of God is the only thing that can bring the death of suicide.
Don’t fall prey to the thinking that we must simply stop people from hanging or shooting themselves. It goes much deeper than that. Suicide is a spirit issue. You can’t be in your right mind and take your life. Paul wrote about self-care in Ephesians 5:29 (NLT) when he said, “No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” It goes against everything within us to commit suicide. One must come to a place where the spirit is completely drained, and no hope for renewal is in sight.
As our society grapples with the questions of why, what and how surrounding suicide, we should look to the One who gives meaning to the spirit. Jesus Christ is the solution to hopelessness. He alone can cause the weak to feel strong, the broken to feel whole, and the lonely to feel comforted. No suicide hotline can replace the work He can do to the spirit. No relationship can exchange despair for hope like He can.
He gives life in a world that takes it away.