Over the past few months in the Santa Clarita, California community where Real Life Church resides, there have been a number of tragic incidents involving suicide. Since this is normally a relatively quiet and safe community, there has understandably been some shock to these events. Last year I wrote on this topic from a Biblical and theological standpoint on whether or not suicide is “unforgiveable.” What I’d like to focus on this time is the Church’s response to suicide prevention on a local and individual level.
Jesus once said, “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Suicide continues to be a major cause of death in the United States, just Google the statistics. We hear the news headlines and read the posts, but we must not forget that these are actual and real people that are dying around us. These aren’t just numbers or statistics, these people are our neighbors, our friends, our family, and our co-workers. These stories are real and the pain that these people were experiencing is real. That should absolutely make us shiver. As followers of Jesus, we have an opportunity to be peacemakers to those suffering from any measure of suicidal tendencies. Too often, we have failed to do this.
If the Church is supposed to be a place of peace, we need to be actively involved in helping people pursue such a thing and give them hope that such a thing exists. And as each of us as individuals are parts of the Church body, our ears and our eyes are many times acting on behalf of the entire church community. We need to be listening to the hurts of people and speaking up when we see it. So I plea with you: get informed and educated, allow these stories to stir your conviction, and pray that God shapes your heart to be moved to action in order to seek peace in the lives of those who are hurting and see no other way out. Be an advocate for life.
Here are some practical steps that you can take immediately in order to do this:
- If you have never read “Suicide: The Forever Decision” I encourage you to purchase it and read it right away. Especially if you are someone who is either considering suicide, or you know someone who is or could potentially be. Not only is this book insightful and informative, it also contains resources for those who are struggling.
- At Real Life, we have a program called “Celebrate Recovery.” It’s not just for those struggling with alcoholism; it is a community of people coming from all different struggles in life, including depression and suicide. It’s a wonderful community to belong to and become engaged in and it may just change you. It meets on Friday nights at 6 PM at our Valencia Campus. Come on by. If you’re not local, CR is a nation-wide program. Find a local church near you that has it, and go there.
- Finally, if you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Access Center Helpline at 800-854-7771 or, in an emergency, 911. All services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.