This week I experienced something for the first time in my life. A close friend of our family, someone who had once worked for my wife, who I had baptized and discipled, attempted to take their own life.
After a spiral of devastating events, including relationship problems, the loss of a job, and the anniversary of a miscarriage, my friend decided she just couldn’t go on with life. That the only answer was to end it all.
We knew she was struggling. We had prayed for her. We had reached out to her as best we could as we dealt with our own trials following the death of a family member. We knew others were reaching out to her, as well. But we had no idea of the extent of her depression and despondency.
We finally realized something was wrong when she texted my wife and asked us to take care of her dog because she was going away. This was unexpected. We knew she had no plans to go anywhere. We knew she had no trips planned and responsibilities at home. My wife texted back, questioning why and where she was going. No answer.
We called her sister and discovered no one had heard from her for hours. I was at work and jumped on Facebook to check her page. What I read was disheartening, “I am sorry I am a disappointment to everyone. I won’t be any longer. I am leaving. Goodbye.” I called my wife to let her know so they could alert the police, and was told the family had found a similar, longer note with after-death instructions at her home.
Her family and friends began looking for her. The police were notified, but no one could find her. No one knew where to begin. We checked everywhere we could think, including the remote river location where she had been baptized. Finally, her sister found her by the river near her boyfriend’s house, locked in her running car, barely conscious from the pills she had taken. Her sister broke the window and got her out and called the ambulance. She is at the hospital now. She is going to survive, at least physically. We still have no idea of her mental or spiritual condition.
This is the first time I have personally been involved in a suicide event, thankfully, although I have ministered to many who have experienced the death of a loved one through their own hand. It is heart-breaking. Even though the person who commits suicide thinks they are solving their problems and the effects of their actions only impact them, they are wrong. Suicide impacts a family forever. It impacts the lives of both family and friends, and leaves the survivors asking, “Why?” and “What could we have done?” The answer, in both cases, rarely comes.
If you think a loved one is considering suicide, GET THEM HELP IMMEDIATELY! Do not take their assertions that they are okay at face value. If you suspect they are thinking of taking their life, get them to a minister, counselor, or to someone else they can discuss their concerns and issues with. People who are considering suicide generally feel alone, helpless, and hopeless. You need to reach out to them in whatever way you can. If you are in the U.S., contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. There are other local organizations that can also help.
If you are considering suicide, please know and understand this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! YOU ARE LOVED! You are a special creation of God, and He loves you and cares for you more than you can ever realize. There is no problem, no issue, no relationship, that God cannot heal or restore. God created your life and does not want you to take it by your own hand. He loves you and wants you to life a full and abundant life right now. Reach out to a minister or pastor in your area or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) and just share what is going on. People are there who want to help you. People are there who love you. Don’t give up. There is always hope!
Finally, let me address a spiritual issue that has come up time and time again in my ministry: Is a person who commits suicide condemned to Hell for their actions? Emphatically, NO!!! Suicide is a sin, without a doubt. It is the taking of one’s own life that was given to them by God. Our lives were purchased at a high cost -- the ending of our lives is not our choice. To do otherwise is a sin, but the grace of God and the blood of Jesus has offered forgiveness for ALL SINS we have committed.
When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior and ask Him to forgive your sins, ALL of your sins are forgiven, not just the sins you committed to that point. ALL sins -- past, present, and future. Sins of omission and commission. Sins that you committed that you don’t even remember. Sins that you will commit in the future. ALL SINS are forgiven!
The blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary is sufficient for all sins, including suicide. Contrary to the teaching of some churches, the sin of suicide is NOT unpardonable and does NOT result in the person going to Hell if they have professed faith and belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
The unpardonable sin that Jesus mentions in Matthew 12:31-32 -- the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit -- the only sin that Jesus says cannot be forgiven -- is the sin of unbelief, NOT THE SIN OF SUICIDE. If someone doesn't believe in God -- if someone doesn't believe that Jesus died for their sins and doesn't accept His forgiveness and His Holy Spirit in their lives, then they can't be forgiven. Not because God doesn’t or won’t forgive them, but because they are choosing to reject the path to salvation and forgiveness of sins. They are rejecting God. They are refusing to open the free gift of God for salvation and stand in their sins.
But, thankfully, God, through His prevenient grace, works in the life of all people to reach out to them and show them the truth of the gospel and to convict them of their sin of unbelief so they might respond and turn to Jesus for salvation. God’s will is that all might be saved and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
To receive salvation, you don’t have to pray any special prayer. You don’t have to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” you see in the tracts or hear in churches today. All you need to do is come to Jesus with an honest and repentant heart, admitting you are a sinner, that you have disobeyed God’s commands and that you have done wrong things. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and put your faith and trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, believing in your heart and in your mind and trusting that His death on the cross paid the penalty for your sins. There is nothing you can do for your salvation except trust in Jesus through faith. God doesn’t require you to do anything else. You can’t get to heaven by doing good works. You can’t get to heaven by going to church or by reading your Bible or by doing spiritual practices. You can only get to heaven and receive salvation by trusting in Jesus and His atoning death on the cross for your sins. His resurrection proves that He conquered sin and death, and He promises that if you believe in Him for your salvation, that He will raise you up to eternal life with Him.
I pray that those affected by the suicide or attempted suicide of a loved one finds comfort in these words. And I pray, pray, pray that if someone is thinking of ending their own life in this way that they would find hope and peace through Jesus and that they would reach out to a friend or family member or a minister and seek help. Hope is never lost! Hope and help is as close as a phone call (National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255).