Q&A on Young People and Suicide
QUESTION: It seems that an increasing number of our young people see nothing wrong with suicide. What can we tell them?
ANSWER: We can tell them the truth. Suicide is murder; “and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him” (1 John 3:15). Suicide is the defiant denial of not only the Fifth Commandment but of the First as well. It is the refusal to trust God’s providential wisdom and love, to acknowledge that He is the Lord of life. Worse, it is terminal rejection of God which allows the Holy Spirit no opportunity to lead the sinner to repentance. Scripture places Judas in hell to warn all who would contemplate suicide as an option amid problems. While we can hope that those whose suicide was an unwitting act of severe mental illness will yet experience God’s grace, the calculated suicide of people who’ve bought the irrational philosophy of pop culture must be judged what it is – self-inflicted damnation.
We can tell young people more than the truth of God’s law, however. A weak faith in desperate straits needs to hear the truth of God’s love. Forgiveness, not suicide, is the solution to guilt; and that forgiveness has already been earned and spoken. Creation and redemption are God’s answer of priceless worth to people who feel worthless (Psalm 139; Isaiah 43). The Christian mission of discipleship and disciple-making as an indispensable member of the body of Christ counters the argument that one’s life has no purpose or meaning. The presence, power, and promise of God address the despair of humanly insurmountable problems.
The “peace of God that surpasses understanding,” the joy in Christ that transcends circumstance, the everlasting glory that makes temporal affliction bearable – these are gospel truths that inspire faith.
We can do more than tell young people the truth. We can model it. We can listen and love. We can share our own experience of God’s promises kept when there was no light but Jesus at the end of the tunnel. We can be and do what they need.
Youth has always been a difficult time for appropriating and employing the will and promises of God. Today’s culture has only made this transitional period of life more difficult. God help us to level with young people and love them through their crises!