Suicide: A Personal Point of View

I have many friends and parishioners who have tried to take their own lives; and/or who have had someone close to them try (and sometimes – sadly – succeed).  And, I’ve officiated at the funeral of a young man who took his own life.   (A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post that reflects on what I learned from that experience.)

A friend and former co-worker (and fellow student in Seminary) Karen Leslie Hernandez, recently felt led to write of her own personal suicide attempt at age 19.  I reblog it here without further comment: I am a Suicide Attempt Survivor by Karen Leslie Hernandez.

Karen and I both want you to hear and believe this message: you are not alone, even though it feels like that is the truth.  There are many, many, people out there who have gone through what you are going through, and want to help.  All you need to do is ask – ask friends, ask clergy, ask school counsellors.  If you don’t find the help you need at first, keep on asking, and you will find a way back from the abyss.  There can be hope again, and you do have choices that will not afflict those you love with that deeply hidden and never-ending pain and sense of loss and guilt that you would be leaving behind.

If you don’t know where to begin in helping yourself or one whom you love, start with the suicide prevention hotline’s website (http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org), or call them at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Trained counsellors in your local area are available (through this phone number) 24 hours a day.

Choose life – most especially for you, but also for those you love.

– Pastor Allen

Our Many Judases

Christ gave us a new command: “Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” …In so doing we shall find that we are helping others to be healed as well, for that love is in them too; and even in our many Judases.

JesusWashingDisciplesFeet-EthiopianIcon
Ethiopian Icon of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet (artist & date unknown)

Monday (April 18th) was the 120th running of the Boston Marathon. And again we remember that moment during that race, three years ago, when the hate and anger that had been fanned to life within two young men exploded; forever altering or destroying the lives of many innocent and wonderful human beings.

We’ve seen people coming together in many ways to minister to those wounded, whether visibly or not, by this and so many other acts of inhumanity, both before and since that day. And, we’ve all seen those who were victims of such violence coming forward with their own stories, sharing them in many different ways, so that others who have suffered similar losses might find healing.

These outpourings of love, compassion and care reflect how Jesus calls upon us to love one another and minister to each other, especially in times if crisis, as we see in this morning’s scripture.  But, here in John 13, the disciples have not yet endured the tragedy that we know so well.

Continue reading “Our Many Judases”

Suicide

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

I’ve long promised that I would eventually post here on the issue of suicide, and this seems to be the moment, as much as I dread doing so: it is a difficult challenge, one that must be approached with great care and compassion.

What impelled me to do so at this time is the death of Robin Williams, and my feelings with regards to a post about Williams’ suicide by Matt Walsh – another screed of his that I once again (almost) agree with.

Walsh emphasizes in his recent post – “Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice” – that suicide is a choice, and there is always an alternative, you can choose life.  I [almost] agree – he is right, to some extent.

In his post, Walsh discusses at length how painful suicide is, in so many ways, for those we leave behind: whether we realize it or not.  As he and I both know all too well, there are always those who love you dearly, and who will always be haunted and who will always carry a deep, hidden hurt from the suicide of someone they love.  He calls suicide a “selfish choice” and again – he is right, to some extent.

Frankly, there are far more survivors than you can possibly suspect of their own suicide attempt(s) or the suicide of someone close to them.  I am certain that there are many people you know who carry this hidden pain, and who will move heaven and earth to keep another from experiencing what they’ve gone through – which means they will do everything they can to help you, once they know that you see your own death as the only way out of the deep pain and darkness that you feel you cannot escape.

But, Walsh is also wrong – suicide seems like a choice to those looking on from outside, but for those mired in making that choice, it is not a choice: it is an escape when one becomes convinced there are no other choices.  It is a disease that deludes one into thinking that the only way out is to choose oblivion.  It leads you to believe that no one else cares, or that no one else can help you.

Continue reading “Suicide”

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent

Lord God, like our predecessors who sought out John the Baptist so long ago, we are seeking you because we are in a wilderness of loneliness, pain and desperation.  We see only walls and closed doors when we look for your presence.  We feel cut off, isolated and forgotten: unseen in a dark and uncaring world.

Yet, You are our God: the One who calls us out of that darkness, the One who sees and heals our pain, the One who never forgets us, and never looses faith in us.  Paul prays that You will sanctify us entirely, keeping our spirit, soul and body sound and blameless for the return of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

And so, we are assured, and are certain – through the witness of the Holy Spirit within us – that this is true. You are faithful, and You are calling to us, even now, calling us out of your love for us, a love that overcomes all the pain, imperfection and injustice in this world, a love that transcends and conquers even death.  We are awed and restored through this love that you have so freely given us through the gift of your son, Jesus Christ.

Lord, we bring our prayers to You in faith, certain that nothing is impossible for You, not even the impossibly deep love you have for each of us and for all of humanity.

Hear now our prayers: for those of your Body who are suffering illness, job loss or other challenges, and for those who are grieving any loss, many of whom are known only to you.  Grant them healing, comfort and peace.  We pray for those who wrestle with addictions, for those caught in the trap of domestic violence, and for those who love and suffer alongside them.

Lord, in this Winter Season, we pray that all who seek warmth and shelter find it.  That all who need healing and peace are granted it.  That all who hunger for sustenance and companionship are satisfied.  May all of us be touched by your grace and power.  May all who serve our community and country be kept safe from harm, especially those in the military, and may and their families enjoy Holiday Seasons that are safe, warm and happy.

Finally Lord, we ask that we be granted the courage and grace we need to follow you faithfully, and with integrity.  Let our actions bear witness to the words we speak, and our worship and love for you overflow into every corner of our being, bringing light and hope into the lives of all we meet through our love for you and your son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Copyright (c) 2011, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via mention of my name on your site, or a link back to this site).