When I considered suicide
A Christian Science perspective.
A recent Monitor article reported on the tragic suicides of American military personnel, which numbered over 200 last year (“US Army suicides on track to hit new high in 2009,” Nov. 18, 2009). This news of the desperation felt by some individuals who are serving their country is heartrending.
At a time in my life when my world was collapsing around me and I faced the possibility of personal bankruptcy, I considered suicide. Even though on the outside I appeared to be dedicated to serving God, I had been living a fast-paced lifestyle, seeking to accumulate more and more money and possessions, and giving little time to prayer or spiritual study.
Coming face to face with the temptation to kill myself was an arresting moment. I reluctantly contacted a Christian Science practitioner, and we began to pray together. The first thing the practitioner asked me to do was to learn to listen for God’s voice, which speaks to each of us individually. This guidance may come as a specific direction or as a thought that can be translated into a right human action. As I tried to do this, my mental turmoil lessened, and I began to feel some peace and quietude.
Over a period of weeks, deep Bible study and prayer comforted me and brought a sense of peace. The thoughts of suicide faded away and were replaced with a greater tolerance and compassion for others. I also adopted a much more principled way of doing business. Eventually, a completely new business emerged, and bankruptcy was no longer necessary.
Subsequently I felt led to join the Samaritans in Britain, an organization dedicated to trying to help those who are troubled or suicidal, and I volunteered for some years.
I’ve found this verse from the Bible helpful: “Your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). Knowing this has brought me great comfort. Also, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” that God is our Life, and that we can never lose life or be alone or abandoned. She wrote: “Let us rid ourselves of the belief that man is separated from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life and Love. Here is the great point of departure for all true spiritual growth” (p. 91).
Many things can lead a person to consider suicide. Sometimes despair arising from the loss of a loved one, from feeling one’s life is a wreck, or perhaps from being on the war front will suggest death as the way out of one’s trouble. Choosing suicide instead of continuing to suffer from a terminal illness is an ongoing issue that has received much publicity in Britain.
In one way or another, these situations argue that our lives are matter-based and confined within a material realm from which we will never be free. Within this realm, everything is limited, and few thoughts are ever given to God, goodness, or hope. There’s also often a belief that God does not exist, or that if He does exist, He cannot or will not help us.
But Christian Science has proved to me that none of this is actually true. The child of God’s creating is spiritual and forever loved by God, an essential part of His creation. Spiritualizing my thought – trying to live the commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount – helps me see the reality of God’s care for us. Such a mental shift changes our attitude toward others. We learn to treat our neighbor as we would desire to be treated, and are able to love more. Each of these steps changes our thoughts, and our way of life.
Ultimately, the answer to depression and suicide, and the argument that we are separated from divine Spirit, is to claim our spiritual rights as God’s expression. His sons and daughters are created for a purpose. We can put this concept into practice by expressing Godlike qualities in all we do. If we express God-given love, compassion, integrity, enthusiasm, energy, and delight in what we do (and we can!), this will help change our world.
Instead of suicide, there is another way out – a way that leads to love, not sorrow and despair. I know. I walked that road, and am here to tell about it.