Dealing with Suicide

After learning Leo’s passing was as a result of his own hand, I have been brought back to an experience in my past.  If you are devastated by this, I can’t promise comfort, only the Holy Spirit can do this, but I hope you will realize you are not alone in struggling with this issue.  Many have had to deal with the loss of loved ones this way.  It is not easy at all.

My best friend from high school was incredibly intelligent, always getting top grades. Once he graduated, he completed his micro-electronic engineering degree, with top grades again. He was very patient to the extent of being quite content to sit for days on end making chain mail for his hobby of medieval re-enactments.  He had an Anglican faith, and went to a Pentecostal church with his wife.

I lost track of him for a number of years, but our friendship was always such that whenever we saw each other again it was as though we had never separated. We could always talk and share what we’d been going through and what we were learning in our faith and lives. After a time  he began to gain an interest in medical science and anatomy.  He and his wife had 2 young children by this point, and he decided on a career change.  He went to University to study medicine.

Sadly never heard the other side of his story until after the sad event of his suicide, but during his time back at University he became more and more depressed.  To all outsiders he was the same cheerful guy that could never be moved, but one day he snapped.

Like all events there are many angles to consider, but since I cannot verify them all I will only write what I know for certain. It had been verified by the police earlier that my friend had hit his wife, for what reason, I am unsure, but it was provoked. However, there is never an excuse to hit your wife or to use violence in anyway towards another, and he knew this.  In utter shame and despair he called the police.  His wife was unconscious for a while, but eventually woke up.  The police took him into custody, and eventually released him to his parents.

The next day I was in conversation with my wife and brother in law, when I received the phone call.  I was told that my friend was hit by a car and that he was dead.  Shocked and dismayed we talked to his wife and found what actually happened to him. That night he had climbed out his window, and run down to the nearest 100km/hr (60mph) zone and walked out in front of a car.

It was possibly the saddest day of my life.  Up until then, I had only known the loss of my Grandfather, who was in his 90s and had lived a good life. This was sad, but nothing in comparison to the death of someone your own age (29 years old), leaving a young wife and 2 little children.

I pondered his salvation for so long, and I hoped so much that he would be saved.  I had previously wrestled with the concept of suicide for many years, and after hearing of his death I struggled to come to grips with it.  At the time I regularly wrote songs and this is what came out of my sadness:

8 March 2008

Gone

want to write, want to know what I can find
want to sleep, don’t tell me it’s alright
feel alone on a limb that I can climb
don’t believe I’ll never see you again

Thought I was over this
thought there was nothing left
probably just wishful thinking
so tired but my heart is sinking

 

CHORUS:
you are gone now
hope I’ll see you again
never thought I’d lose you this way… my friend
you are gone now
there’s no sense in this
you had it all together
what did I miss.

 

couldn’t figure, why you didn’t call me
but I know you too well
you didn’t want forgivness
you couldn’t forgive yourself

one mistake, one day it’s over
one blink, life’s passed you by
I guess we’ll know the answers… soon.

 

[CHORUS]
some days I hope it’s just a dream
that way was supposed to be for me
but you lead me free, from my broken mind .. and I know
I could have done the same
but I won’t take the blame
nothing left to say, it’s over now

 

CHORUS 2:
you are gone now
hope I’ll see you again
we had a life together, I will never forget
you are gone now
it’s time for this to end…

so goodbye.. my friend.

The question I asked myself over and over was “Why did this happen? Why didn’t he call me?  Why didn’t God stop this?”  Only recently has God answered these questions for me.  The answers were not what my flesh wanted to hear, but they helped me understand and knowing the answers has brought me some comfort.  God answered my questions in a way which I never expected.

My brother in law had a friend who was an ardent Evolutionist.  Some would even dare to say that he was an evangelist in his own sphere.  By his own admission his life goal was to remove people’s faith in the biblical God. To this end he was successful a number of times.  My brother in law was a new convert (following the study of some Creation vs Evolution information I had given him) and his atheist friend was out to destroy his new-found faith.  His friend was then ‘referred’ to me, as I had studied the topic of origins extensively from both the evolutionary and the creation standpoints.

So, our first conversation started with his question “How could a loving God torture people forever and ever?” to which I replied “He couldn’t.”  After a surprised look, our conversation continued.  Everything he asked on the topic of creation was answered. Every doubt, every seeming contradiction, answered. His faith in Evolution was being shaken.

Our new atheist friend came back again for another night of ‘creation vs evolution questions and answers’ with me, but then I didn’t see him again for a few months.  Every now and then, completely unexpected, he would drop in and we would talk til midnight, always answering his questions, and always having an enjoyable time together answering his questions.

The last I had heard from him he had joined the army.

Then about 2 years later his mother arrived at our place.  Leah (my wife) had been his sister’s singing teacher a few years ago and had been friendly with his mother. After sharing some music her daughter had recently recorded, Leah asked about her son, wondering where the ardent Evolutionist had ended up. With great sadness, his mother shared the experience of the past two years, with her son unsuccessfully attempting  suicide twice, but how his miraculous survival had converted him to Christianity. You can imagine my shock and joy at hearing this!! And, she added, he was wanting to get back in touch with us.

Mingled with my excitement however was some skepticism. After we met up again, once more our conversation continued to midnight, but this time instead of debating the origin of the universe we were discussing biblical doctrines. I was able to clear up a lot of doctrinal issues he had, and then he related his testimony to us. We were blown away.

Amongst a number of other trials in his life his girlfriend has cheated and left him, and in his distressed state he took a knife and stabbed himself twice in the region of his heart.  His aim was good.  A part of the heart is covered by a lung. This is where he stabbed. If the knife missed the heart, it should have punctured his lung. However, the knife pushed the heart AND lung aside, and instead lodged in-between the two.  This is anatomically impossible,  which the doctors later commented. In the stabbed area there were many veins and arteries so although he missed the vital organs, he should have bled out. BUT…his chest cramped.  He sat there, waiting to die, and what seemed like 30 minutes later, he realised he wasn’t going to die and that he needed to call for help.  The ambulance came, and he was taken promptly to the emergency room.  As soon as he arrived he started bleeding profusely, as he should from the start. One of the nurses commented “I think God wants this one alive”.

For whatever reason, as he shared this with us my memories of all the different things that he had learnt from me in our discussions and that he had learnt from other people who had tried to help him along the way, were brought back to my mind.  And at that point he accepted God was real.

He is now a baptised member of our church and is recovering well from his self -destructive lifestyle.  Like all of us, he isn’t perfect yet, but he is certainly on the path.

So what did I learn from this?

We are in perilous times, Satan is trying to erase us before we get the chance to make a decision for or against God.  It seems my friend from high school had already made his decision.  He was going to follow his own inclination, his own feelings –  “Do What Thou Wilt, that is the whole of the law.”  He had rejected the Sabbath, even though he believed it to be logical and true, and instead he followed the dictates of his own mind.

But by brother in law’s friend, now a good friend of mine too, had not been given his opportunity.  He had grown up in a nice family, but without any real faith.  At his school, he had continually questioned his Religious Instruction (RE) teachers, but sadly they continually either ignored his questions or gave unsatisfactory answers like “You just have to have faith,”  proving this statement to be very much fact:

The half-hearted Christian exerts an influence more harmful than the influence of the avowed infidel.  {RH, January 28, 1904 par. 3}

God is loving and just. If people reject Him and His council, He will allow them to make a choice to end their life, if that is what they would prefer.

and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn.”  {8T 72.2}

We are in that time my friends. The end time.  We are not here to point the finger at Leo, He was was obviously a tortured soul, we are simply thankful that we have a loving and just God. We all need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, praying for strength to pull us through the clouds of despair that will come as we journey through our lives.

Regardless of where Leo or my friend end up, we need to pray with all our heart that we don’t give up.  Which ever way his fate is sealed, we need to consider our own future now.  Where can we go to avoid this kind of ending.

For a start, we need to look at our own life, and choose to come out of the world by following the steps that God has given us in His Word:

2 Peter 1:4-8 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

How does God fix us? By these steps:
1. Faith (see Living Faith)
2. Virtue
3. Knowledge
4. Temperance
5. Patience
6. Godliness
7. Brotherly Kindness
8. Charity (brotherly love, love your neighbor as yourself)

In other words, without faith you can never be fully patient, and without temperance we can never have true love for our fellow man.  We can have self-interested versions of all these points, but the real deal will evade us.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

And the key is having the fruit of the spirit.  We can gain none of these without yielding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  So we need to pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to abide in us and in our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I apologise to you that I don’t have the answers, but I can direct you to the remedy of our grief. No one can comfort us like Jesus through the comforter, the Holy Spirit.  All I can offer you is advice. If you are going through feelings like these and are thinking about ending life as Leo did, please don’t. The Lord is here to help you in a very real way. I pray the following sermons will be a help to you all.

2011-08-13 – Paul Godfrey – DS – Dealing With Feeling – mp3 – youtube
2012-10-20- Paul Godfrey – Fear and Revere – mp3 – youtube – synopsis