I know suicide is a delicate topic. I have friends who have lost family members to suicide. I have battled my own demons of emotional health and addiction, so I would never dehumanize a person who ends up taking his own life. Instead I feel great pain and sorrow for them, their family, and how the enemy wrecks havoc on our souls.
Two stories have been in the news a lot these week—Robin Williams’ suicide and the Spanish missionary who died from Ebola. Both stories leave many asking why.
Taking One’s Own Life
No one really ever knows why or how someone could take their own life. Sure we can sometimes surmise and try to explain it away but without much success. Family and friends, or in the case of a celebrity, fans are left with more questions than answers.
I find it strange how people romanticize suicide or at least are drawn to it by a morbid curiosity. People seem to not only want to know why but how, when, and where.
Reading articles about Mr. Williams I notice a theme—his internal struggles with depression and addiction. As I noted earlier, I understand these struggles. Even though I have never considered taking my life, I know better than to think I am not capable of any kind of unthinkable act.
But because I have struggled with similar demons, I can recognize that one descends into a dark world of self-consumption. Somewhere along the way a person can’t see themselves having any value to add to anyone else’s life anymore. This is the epitome of toxic shame—to believe a lie that whispers, sometimes drowning out everything else, that you are not worth even living anymore.
You know, I was shameful, he told The Guardian in 2008
. You do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from. You can say, ‘I forgive you’ and all that stuff, but it’s not the same as recovering from it.Robin Williams
Giving One’s Own Life
Contrast that with these missionaries who have contracted Ebola, one being the Spanish priest who died, while serving sick patients in west Africa.
I imagine that some of their family and friends asked them why. Why go to a foreign country where you don’t know the people, surrounded by these people who have a highly infectious disease and risk your own life?
What causes one person to slide into a desperate shame-filled death sentence while another willingly risks their life, even sacrificing it, for the benefit of another?
One thing that seems obvious to me is that these missionaries and countless others over time have given their lives for the benefit of another. Intense show of selflessness.
I don’t think this comes from our own nature. It definitely is not the nature of Satan. He is the epitome of selfishness, despair, and toxic shame. He preys on the frailty of man lying to him about his lack of worth, so why not just end it all.
Whereas, God, through His Holy Spirit, fills one with Life. He gently yet boldly speaks into a person’s heart that not only do they have value and are worth living, but that they have something greater than themselves to give away.
Where one suffers with self-hatred another overflows with love for others—even for ones they do not know.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13 NIV
Whom do you listen to?
I understand that for some this is hard to read. Either you have lost a loved one to suicide or you have struggled with seeing any reason for living. If this is you, I hope you experience Grace and Hope today. I pray over you that you hear the voice of the One who truly loves you and not the voice of the one who wants to destroy you.
For those who risk their lives for others, maybe not like these missionaries or others who serve in dangerous locations around the world, but maybe you risk your reputation, your financial status, your friends for the sake of another. Be encouraged faithful one that He knows and your reward is stored up for you.
Which person are you? If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to those around you. You are of great value!