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 (, 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


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.

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