THE recent death of a nineteen-year-old focused my attention on the appalling rate of suicide among teen-agers. The newspaper account had reported that there was some evidence that the young man had considered changing his mind at the last minute. I know how he felt. I've been there. I once stood by a railroad track out in the country, waiting to step in front of the next train that came along. I had a choice: I could step forward or I could go back -- back home to a situation that had become unbearable.
No train was in sight, and there was time for me to remember that I had solved my problems through prayer. Having been left without parents as a teen-ager, I had learned in the Christian Science Sunday School the Bible teaching that I have a heavenly Father who loves and looks after His children. The Bible also assures us of God's mothering qualities. In Isaiah, for example, God is represented as saying, ``As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.''1
Through prayer to God I had been healed of physical troubles. And such prayer opened the way for me to earn a college degree and support myself and my younger brother.
So here I was with a choice to make. I had been contending with a recurring physical trouble and had been subjected to frequent criticism from my husband. He ridiculed my family, friends, and religion, and resented the fact that I had a higher level of education. I didn't know until much later that he was deeply troubled by feelings of insecurity.
Often, young people who have left home have done so because they felt criticized and unwanted. Also, a tragic number of children are living on the streets because their parents have banished them from home. Under such circumstances some youths reach a point where suicide appears to be the only way out.
But they don't really want to die. And neither did I as I stood beside those railroad tracks, considering the choice before me. Then suddenly I realized that there was a third possibility: I could pray! So I prayed from the depths of my heart: ``Father, what will I do?'' I was startled and awed by the swiftness of the reply: ``Go back. I have work for you.'' There was no voice, no sound -- but the message was positive and clear. Besides receiving a mandate to live, I had also been given a reason for living. From then on, that reason was like a guiding light in my consciousness, illumining the many opportunities for doing God's work that came my way. My home became happier as I made a determined effort to appreciate my husband's good qualities, to see him more as God knew him. Serving in various offices in my church broadened my spiritual horizons. Returning to my former profession as a teacher brought me into contact with students who needed help in overcoming discouragement and self-doubt. Several changed their minds about dropping out of school or running away from home after being shown their individual worth. Moreover, the additional income helped my own two children to finish college.
For a long time I have kept the story of my near brush with suicide to myself, confiding in only a couple of people very close to me. But in view of the urgent problem of teen-age suicide, I feel impelled to share this spiritual answer with those who feel defeated and hopeless, and especially with teen-agers. God is saying to every despondent heart: ``I have work for you! You are My beloved child.''
God never created a single unloved, unwanted child. There are no ``throwaway'' children in His family. You are special; there is only one individual like you in His creation, and that one is wholly good and worthy. This is the spiritual truth of man, the only truth of you or me or anyone, and it can be proved.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science.''2
The clouds of evil may suggest there's no hope, no future. But there is hope and a limitless future, because God needs you. We're all needed in the divine order. Our childlike, wholehearted turning to Him can begin to open to view our unique purpose, our blessed and deeply loved individuality.
1Isaiah 66:13. 2Science and Health, p. 322. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:6,7