Throughout the Bible there are a few stories of suicide. These stories teach us a few things about suicide. Mainly, anyone from any background for a variety of reasons might at some point struggle with suicidal thoughts. The evil King Abimelech, Samson, King Saul, Judah Iscariot, and the Philippian jailer—all these men had different reasons to commit suicide or in the case of the Philippian jailer to attempt it.
The Bible addresses all areas of our lives, including the tragedies and the brokenness of the world. These stories are in Scripture so that we can learn from them, and to know how to give hope to those who are hurting. They are examples of the extreme lengths a person will go when they are without hope, they fear the future, they are filled with regret, or they walk away from God.
The Philippian jailer did not succeed in his attempt because one man stepped in to intervene. The Apostle Paul gave the jailer hope. When one person stepped in, a whole life changed.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25)
What is suicide?
Suicide is death caused by self-inflicted injury with the intent to die. It is self-directed, intentional, voluntary, and preventable. Suicide is now understood as a mental health issue. Suicidal thoughts usually stem from deep emotional pain or feelings of hopelessness.
On average there are 132 suicide deaths per day. About 90% of people who dies from suicide have a mental health condition. Many times, suicide is the symptom of deeper emotional hurts, depression, or feelings of hopelessness.
What are some misconceptions about suicide?
There are many myths or misconceptions surrounding suicide. Especially, suicide and faith. In order to offer help and hope to those who are hurting, we need to understand the truth to wisely respond to suicidal behavior.
Here are some common misconceptions
1. If people talk about it, they won’t do it.
About 80% of people who died by suicide talked about it or gave clues to friends or family. If someone talks about suicide it gives others the opportunity to intervene.
2. You should never talk about suicide with people who are depressed because they could get ideas.
For someone who is struggling with these thoughts, talking them through with a trusted person, can be a powerful preventative. This is one of the most helpful ways to prevent suicide deaths.
3. Suicides happen without warning.
The vast majority of those who died by suicide gave a hint, clue, or warning. It is important to understand these warning signs, so you can be the person to intervene and change a life.
4. A true believer would never consider suicide.
There are heartfelt believers who do struggle with suicidal thoughts. Some die by suicide each year, including ministry leaders.
5. Christians who take their own lives will lose their salvation.
According to Scripture, once you have believed and accepted Jesus as your Savior, the Spirit is the promised guarantee that you will live eternally with Jesus.
What are the risk factors and warning signs of suicide?
There are some risk factors to look for that indicate suicidal behavior, but it is important to know that these aren’t the cause. They simply indicate that a person may be at risk if they present one or more of these behaviors.
Some of the personal risk factors include but not limited to: depression, anxiety, mental disorder, substance abuse, prior attempts, history of trauma, medical illness, feeling hopeless or isolated, believing that suicide is a legitimate or noble solution to a problem.
There are also risk factors related to the family. Such as a family history, family history of mental health disorder, family history of substance abuse, and family violence.
Outside circumstances can also add to the risk factors. Some include: stressful life event, limited access to healthcare, lack of social support, local clusters of suicide, suicidal behavior in peers, release from jail, and access to lethal means.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text 741741, or call 911.
The role of emotions
A person who struggles with suicidal thoughts has their own unique circumstances, thoughts, and emotions. Each individual who struggles with these thoughts have some emotions in common. Almost everyone who struggles with suicidal thoughts feels hopeless.
There are some other emotions common to people who struggle with suicidal thoughts: anger, anxiety, confusion, depression, fear, grief, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, inadequacy, insecurity, loneliness, low self-worth, purposelessness, revengeful, shame, stress, and tired.
These emotions can sometimes overwhelm and be hard to manage. It is important to talk them through with a trusted pastor or counselor. God is a source of emotional support and stability.
“Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.” (Psalm 55:22 NLT)
Ministering to those struggling with suicidal thoughts
The emotions and life-threatening thoughts can overwhelm the person struggling with them. Causing them to feel isolated, disconnected, and without hope. These feelings do not reflect God’s hope for every individual.
“There is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)
The Bible documents his own people feeling hopeless and in despair. Jeremiah is an example of dealing with emotional turmoil. He documents his deep feelings of grief, loneliness, and deep despair. During his deep moments of grief, he made the choice to focus on God’s love, compassion, and faithfulness.
“The thought of my suffering…is bitter beyond words. Yet I will dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (Lamentations 3:19-23)
When someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts it is important that they find immediate assistance and support.
- It is important to have someone to talk to, including those at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text 741741, or call 911.
- Create a safe environment by removing lethal objects and finding a safe person to connect with.
- Keep things in perspective. No matter what deep feelings you are dealing with, you can have hope. “There is not pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” Corrie ten Boom
- Address any physical issues. Get a check-up to see if there are any physical issues contributing to suicidal thoughts. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)
- Take care of emotional needs. Make a plan to manage emotions in a healthy way. Avoid unhealthy substances such as alcohol and drugs. “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.” (Psalm 18:6)
- Replace negative thoughts. It is important to retrain your thinking. Replace the lies by meditating on God’s Word.
- Recognize that pain is temporary. Put the pain in perspective and acknowledge that it is only temporary.
It is important for those struggling with suicidal thoughts to be in community and to stay connected. Regular check-ins with a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor will help to walk through suicidal thoughts and come through with hope.