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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Suicidal Thoughts




These are the notes for my presentation to the Church of Divine Guidance Thursday Night Prayerline in our study of the spirit of heaviness. Tonight's presentation is suicidal thoughts. 

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported this week that nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2016 alone, and said the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2016. Suicidal ideation is a term used by mental health professions to describe suicidal thoughts and feelings (without suicidal actions). Actual attempts to kill yourself are labeled "suicidal gestures" or "suicide attempts". 

Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that the act of suicide, no matter how tragic, is an unforgivable sin. If you are a believer in Christ, you will go to heaven. The Bible is clear that sin which cannot be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and the refusal to believe in Christ. Whatever we face now, no matter how dark it may seem, will not remain the same. There’s hope still ahead. There is power in God’s Word, and in praying it back to Him. Even in the deepest struggles, He is able to bring us through to other side, by His healing and strength.

Last week I talked about excessive grieving which can become a behavioral health issue and if not dealt with can lead to thoughts of and even actual suicide.

Suicide - the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported this week that nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. in 2016 alone, and said the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2016
While the cause of suicide is unknown, some common risk factors include:
  1. major psychiatric illness - in particular, mood disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)
  2. substance abuse (primarily alcohol abuse)
  3. family history of suicide
  4. long term difficulties with relationships with friends and family
  5. losing hope or the will to live
  6. significant losses in a person's life, such as the death of a loved one, loss of an important relationship, loss of employment or self-esteem of(we talked about this being a cause of excessive grieving last week)
  7. unbearable emotional or physical pain

7 Different Accounts in the Bible of Those Who Took Their Own Lives:

King Saul and his armor bearer – Because of defeat by the enemy and great fear after being wounded, Saul chose to end his life, rather than face abuse by his captors. When his armor-bearer refused to kill him at his request, he took his own life by falling on his sword.

I Samuel 31:3-5 NKJV The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him.

Samson – In his great drive for revenge, Samson was willing to die when he killed the Philistines in their crowded temple. Braced between two pillars, he used his final strength to push them down, and take his own life along with his enemies.

Judges 16:25-30 NKJV  So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars. Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” Now the temple was full of men and women. All the Lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed. Then Samson called to the Lord , saying, “O Lord God , remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all  his might, and the temple fell on the Lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.

Abimelech – He was one of Israel's cruel and ruthless Kings.  His story is in the 9th chapter of Judges.  He killed himself after he was injured by a woman and because he was proud he killed himself rather than let the millstone dropped by this woman on his head be the cause of death.

Judges 9:53-54 NKJV But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his young man thrust him through, and he died.


Ahithophel – As a one-time close companion of David, and grandfather of Bathsheba, became part of David's son, Ahithophel, coup d'etat.  Ahithophel didn't take his advice on how to defeat David and  out of possible fear, rejection, or complete hopelessness, he chose to go home, “put his house in order, and then hanged himself.”

II Samuel 17:23 NKJV Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.

Zimri – Another evil king of Israel who was facing a military defeat and saw no way out took his own life be burning down this palace. 

I Kings 16:15-19 NKJV In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri had reigned in Tirzah seven days. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. Now the people who  were encamped heard it said, “Zimri has conspired and also has killed the king.” So all Israel made Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that day in the camp. Then Omri and all Israel with him went up from Gibbethon, and they besieged Tirzah. And it happened, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house down upon himself with fire, and died, because of the sins which he had committed in doing evil in the sight of the Lord , in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he had committed to make Israel sin.
 
And of course Judas - In great despair and guilt after betraying Christ, the burden Judas carried led him to choose suicide. His story is probably the most well-known account in the Bible on the tragedy of suicide. He was Jesus’ own disciple, he walked with him, he was close to him, but yet he still didn’t “know” him. And instead of repentance and seeking forgiveness after betraying Christ, he allowed the great burden of sin to lead him to this terrible end.

Matthew 27:3-4 NKJV Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is  that to us? You see to  it! ”

Christians And Suicide

Most of us will agree that Christians can get depressed, but can Christians get suicidal? Good Christians? Many Christians believe, some unconsciously perhaps, that Christians do not and should not become suicidal, because suicide is, after all, something that only happens when you lose all hope, and don’t Christians have the best Hope there is?  Aftererall doesn’t God absolutely, 100% have the power to heal depression?

Most Christians will tell you that you have two options, to give in to that temptation and commit an irreversible (but not unforgivable) sin, or believe God’s promise:

“God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

We Christians often over-spiritualize depression and neglect the very real physical needs of a person caught in depression’s grip.  On the other hand,  non-Christians tend to focus too much on the physical aspects of depression and neglect spiritual health.

No matter what depression may look like, the attributes of God are almost always under attack. Doubt always follows closely on the heels of depression. If you’re a Christian and you’re depressed you’re in good company.

Moses was suicidal;

Numbers 11:14-15 (NLT2)14  I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!15  If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

Elijah was suicidal

1 Kings 19:3-4 (NLT2)3  Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.4  Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

Jonah was suicidal.  He asked to be thrown out of the boat, knowing that he wouldn’t survive;

Jonah 1:12 (NLT2)  “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.”

Suicidal Ideation


Suicidal ideation is a term used by mental health professions to describe suicidal thoughts and feelings (without suicidal actions).  For example, people experiencing suicidal ideation commonly report that they feel worthless, that life is not worth living, and that the world would be better off without them.  The presence of suicidal ideation, occurring alone in the absence of any plans to act out actual suicide, anchors the low/less-dangerous end of the suicide risk continuum.  The potential for someone engaging in suicide is still there, but the risk is not acute (i.e., immediate).


Suicidal ideation is only dangerous to the extent that it motivates suicidal planning and actions.  Moving from thinking about suicide to considering a specific suicidal plan represents an increase in the level of suicide-danger risk, no matter whether the plans made are concrete or vague; organized, or haphazard.  When suicidal actions occur, the level of suicide-danger risk increases.

Actual attempts to kill yourself are labeled "suicidal gestures" or "suicide attempts" by mental health professionals, no matter how ineffective those attempts may ultimately be.  Suicidal gestures may be acted out with full lethal intent, or they may be acted out half-heartedly, more as a means of communicating the depths of your pain to others around you than an actual effort to end your life.  Regardless of the intent and degree of seriousness that motivates them, suicidal gestures are often dangerous events.  Even ambivalent, half-hearted suicidal gestures can result in a completed suicide.

7 Reminders for Those Who Are Struggling

God reminds us in story after story in His word that He will never waste the pain we struggle through in this life, but He will turn it around for good somehow and use it to strengthen us and to help others.

Yet it’s important to note that nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that the act of suicide, no matter how tragic, is an unforgivable sin. If you are a believer in Christ, you will go to heaven. The Bible is clear that sin which cannot be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and the refusal to believe in Christ.


1  Recognize that we have a real enemy whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy. But Christ came to give abundant life and joy.

John 10:10 NKJV The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

2. Choose not to be driven by fear.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and help someone who is struggling, or to reach out for help if you find yourself struggling. God won’t ever let you go. And He’s given you others in life to help shoulder this burden. There’s support and counsel available through many who understand or have walked this road before.

Isaiah 41:10 NKJV Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

3. Know that you’re never alone.
He offers hope and deliverance.
Psalms 34:18-19 NKJV The Lord  is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

4. Know that God loves you and is always with you.

He will sustain us through our greatest burdens.

Psalms 55:22 NKJV Cast your burden on the Lord , And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.


5. Know that He does not condemn you or accuse you.

He offers freedom and peace.

Romans 8:1-2 NKJV There  is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
I John 4:4 NKJV You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.


6. Remember that He has a plan for good in store for you.

Whatever we face now, no matter how dark it may seem, will not remain the same. There’s hope still ahead.

Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord , thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

7. There is power in God’s Word, and in praying it back to Him.
He reminds us that it won’t return empty, without accomplishing great things.
Isaiah 55:11 NKJV So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in  the  thing for which I sent it.
Even in the deepest struggles, He is able to bring us through to other side, by His healing and strength.

Prayer

“Father, in the name of Jesus, I come before You, confessing my need for You, and crying out to you from the bottom of my heart. Lord, You’ve said that you are near to those whose hearts are breaking and that you give grace to the humble. I humble myself before you now…I cast down any pride or self-justification that I would hide behind, and I present myself to you as I truly am–weak and helpless and despairing of my very life. I know there is no other Rock but You, and I turn to You with all of my heart. Father, please forgive my sin! I open myself up to receive Your cleansing, Your healing, Your forgiveness, and Your faith, hope and love into my being. I receive your love as a river, washing over the dry wasteland of my emotions. I see that in Your river there is life, and that every place your river touches in me is revived. I cast all my cares, my sorrows, my disappointments into that river and I let the current of Your spirit carry them far away. I believe You, when You say that You think good thoughts about me, and that Your plans are to give me a future and a hope. I believe You when You say that You knew who I was even before my mother conceived me–and that You wanted me to be alive on the earth right now. Thank you for giving me life! Thank you for working all things in my life for good! Thank you that I can call on your Name and You will be near me. Thank you for bearing all my weaknesses and diseases on the cross, and healing me, spirit, soul and body.”

Note - If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies, please get help. Don’t try to face this on your own. There is hope and healing, and there are many who will journey through this trial with you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time day or night 24/7, to talk to someone who understands. Or go online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information and help.