Suicide need not be contagious

FOLLOWING an incident of teenage suicide, a fellow student, who had attempted suicide the previous year, was quoted as saying: ``I couldn't handle anything any more. There are all kinds of pressures.... It built up, like a snowball.''1 The pressure to succeed, social pressures, and family problems are among the reasons for teen-age suicide cited by those familiar with its causes.

Do we have to believe that suicide is catching and that it will continue unchecked? The Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, addressing the issue of contagion, writes: ``Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching.''2

Maybe it's time for each of us to take a stand against this hypnotic suggestion and realize that it is not the real nature of anyone to want to end his or her life. That's because God is man's Life and the producer of good alone. Man as God's likeness -- and that's everyone's actual being -- is worthy and satisfied. Only clouds of self-doubt, discouragement, self-condemnation, fear, or sensuality would obscure the true nature of our life and open our thought to the specious and wicked suggestion that it's possible to escape from life's challenges through death.

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It may seem that we're inexorably victimized. But in the most profound sense we're not, because God is Love and He loves us, unwaveringly, eternally. We have divine support to reject the enticements of evil, no matter how strong or legitimate they seem to be, and to replace them with an understanding of our God-given capacity to think and act constructively, progressively, successfully.

Paul's thoughts in the book of Romans are of great encouragement in this endeavor. He writes: ``There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.''3 Paul's words have even greater significance when we remember that he first persecuted those who followed Jesus' teachings. You might say that as Saul he was ``floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions.''

We may know little or nothing about the teachings and life of Christ Jesus. But to the degree that we live or desire to live such Christlike qualities as integrity, purity, compassion, and unselfishness, to that degree we are identifying with ``the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,'' which frees us from self-destructive patterns of thought.

It is this ``Spirit of life'' which gives us the conviction that God, good, is the only motivating power in our lives. In the most fundamental sense it is His demands, not man's, to which we must respond, and they are never beyond our capacities. As a result, our life gains greater purpose and meaning. We find more joy in discovering the contributions of friends and relatives. We appreciate our own skills and talents not so much for what they will get us as for what they enable us to give. Our work results in greater fulfillment, and our contribution helps encourage and bring freedom to others.

Knowing this, we will have the courage, step by step, to meet every challenge and the wisdom not to be fooled by the hypnotic suggestion that the solution to problems comes by trying to end our life. Most important, we will realize that we are loved and cared for and that we have a unique contribution to make to our world.

If anything is to be contagious, let it be ``the Spirit of life.''

1The Washington Post, April 21, 1987,p. B-2. 2Miscellaneous Writings, p. 228. 3Romans 8:1, 2.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days. Deuteronomy 30:19,20

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