Facing down the pull of suicide
A Christian Science perspective.
There was a time in my life when the desire to commit suicide was my daily companion. A situation at the university where I was a middle manager had erupted into disaster, and I felt my integrity was being deeply and unfairly questioned.
That experience has come to thought more than once in the last few months, as suicides of various executives – the most recent involving David Kellerman of Freddie Mac – have been in the news. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there when the internal lights get progressively dimmer and then start to go out. In my own case, it took a while before I even noticed the dimness and the silence.
Looking back now, I can see that even in the midst of it, there was still a pinhole where light was getting through. It often showed up as a question when I thought actively about taking my life. It asked, "Are you sure? Would it work?" I think that was actually an angel, a message from God, reaching me in terms that I could hear. And I think my daily prayer – which during that time never seemed useful or inspired – was what kept that hole open. It was my lifeline to God's goodness, even though I felt deeply burdened and totally cut off from anything even remotely good.
That lifeline is actually Christ. You can think of Christ as God's spiritual message of love for humanity, and for each of us specifically. Each individual, including those who have taken their lives, and their families, and all of us, is spiritual, the idea of divine Life. As such we can never lose our lives, even when we mistakenly think we can take them. Nor can we ever lose God's love, even when what Paul the apostle called "the carnal mind" – that which argues against God's love – endeavors to darken our thoughts and even close out that pinhole of light.
Jesus once said, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.... I came not to judge the world, but to save the world" (John 12:46, 47). Not to judge, but to save.
In my case, salvation came in the form of a spiritual inspiration breaking through with the message that I could save myself if I was willing to be grateful. And I was. At first I had to search for reasons, because the darkness was still there. But I was persistently grateful for tiny things and big things day after day. The pinhole of light became a small window, which grew from there. Eventually, all I thought I'd lost in life was restored – and more.
But what of those whose hands were not stayed and who did take their lives? No one can know for sure what their next step was in terms of how they perceived it. But there are some things that are certain. One is that God is infinite Life, and that none of His children can ever be cut off from that Life. No one can ever lose God's love.
True, it may seem very possible to lose sight of one's spiritual nature and of the eternal life and love it includes. But this mistaken and material sense of life can't last forever. It has nothing substantial to sustain it. As Mary Baker Eddy put it, "This idolatrous and false sense of life is all that dies, or appears to die. The opposite understanding of God brings to light Life and immortality" ("Unity of Good," p. 38).
Our loved ones will see this true Life-light in their own way, and will realize the need to go forward toward that light. Even if this knowledge doesn't come all at once, they will be kept safe in God's care. Why can we be sure of this? The book of Ezekiel in the Bible has a wonderful passage that speaks of God's active love. It records God as promising, "I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick" (Ezek. 34:16).
Biblical promises like these are also true for those of us who have been left behind with memories and questions. Jesus came not to judge – them, you, or anyone. He came to show the saving Christ. This power of God's love is active right now in your life, as it was in mine on the morning my pinhole of light began its journey toward becoming a window. It's active in the lives of our loved ones. Take warmth and comfort from this light. Be grateful for every evidence you see. And live.