Who that has heard about someone’s suicide has not been deeply touched? Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that suicide is on the rise in the United States. Once viewed as a problem for teens and the elderly, there’s been a surge in suicide among middle-aged Americans and veterans.
There are many good people trying to identify the “why” behind such acts of hopelessness, delving into possible biological, economic, familial, political, religious, and social triggers with the aim of preventing suicide. Whatever the circumstances, when despair exceeds the ability to deal with the despair, suicidal feelings sometimes result.
Through prayer we can help prevent suicide as well as remove the underlying despair and heal depression. Prayer opens the way to communicate directly with God, divine Love itself, who is the creative power of the universe transcending all darkness and despair. David outlined God’s tender, shepherding care in Psalm 23. He extolled God’s providence in good times when in “green pastures” or led beside “still waters” as well as difficult times when passing through the “valley of the shadow of death.” The psalm reveals the nature of God’s provision for humanity as ever available to meet all our needs.
Through Christ – that is, Immanuel or “God with us” – we can reach this conscious awareness of the presence of divine Love. Our thought is like a harbor, where boats of all shapes, sizes, and origins are moored. When a big wave comes in, all the boats in the harbor rise. So it is when our thought rises to contemplate the presence and power of universal, divine Love, others are also benefited, including those struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Knowing the power of God-based thinking, we can hold ourselves and others superior to base instincts, and we can reject death. We can reject assertions that suicide is understandable, welcome, or even inevitable. Death is never a solution. Understanding this, the discoverer of the laws behind Jesus’ ability to heal and save others from death, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Life is Christ, and Christ, as aforetime, heals the sick, saves sinners, and destroys the last enemy, death” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 185).
What of those who have succumbed to suicide? The tragedy is a snapshot in time, but it is not the end of their life story. God is both just and merciful and does not condemn anyone to everlasting punishment or unfulfilled purpose. Life is eternal, and eventually we will all awaken to our true spiritual nature as the loved and living children of God. Christ, Truth, is available to everyone at any time for help and guidance.
And what about the families and friends who are suffering the impact of a loved one’s suicide? Though they may feel the deep loss of a loved one’s presence, opening their hearts to God’s comforting love can lift them out of despair. Jesus’ example of overcoming death can enable the searching heart not to give way to hopelessness or to lose faith to unbelief. The Apostle Paul said, “[T]he gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Knowing that opened the way for me to feel God’s comforting care to silence the haunting “if only’s” following the suicide of someone close to me.
Each of us can find the way, answering with calm confidence as Paul did: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
We each have a God-given right to feel the joy that is inherently ours. We can trust the shepherding care of divine Love to lead us out of darkness and despair to the light of Life and living.