Understanding Suicide and the Bible

My heart goes out to Pastor Rick Warren and his family at the loss of his 27 year old son to death by suicide. I can relate to the Warrens in that my family and I lost our son Ryan, at 20 years of age 10 years ago. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us to comfort others with whom we can empathize with “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Losing a loved one to suicide is a most difficult kind of grief. Losing any child or young person is hard and tragic for anyone. No parent envisions losing a child in death before them. And if it happens there really isn’t any kind of true closure. One bears the hurt and loss the rest of their life. Yes we trust God to help us go on but we do so as a survivor must cope each day, one at a time. We depend on God’s grace and strength to remember the good times we had with our loved one and thank God for whatever time we did have them.

Add to that, losing a loved one to suicide complicates the grief in that you must fight through all the stigmas associated with it. Suicide is often misunderstood and has a history of shame around it. For many years the church taught and believed if anyone committed suicide they were condemned to hell. It was understood that they, “killed themselves as if to murder someone else thus breaking the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not kill.” (some versions, use the word “murder”)

The Hebrew word for “Kill” in the sixth commandment, meant not to murder or pre-meditate or plot to kill an innocent person who was not attacking one or physically engaging to kill anyone. God did tell the Jews to kill and eliminate evil nations who plotted and carried out attacks to kill the Jews. God helped deliver the Jews from Egypt. God knocked down the walls of Jericho and helped David kill Goliath, etc.

God created us to have a will to live. I’ve seen people fight for their lives through chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplants, open heart surgery, and all kinds of treatments. But others can suffer from a chemical imbalance or mood disorder or any type of psychological problem that can be as hard if not harder to overcome than a serious physical disease. 34,000 die from suicide every year in the U.S. 90% of them have a diagnosed or undiagnosed psychiatric disorder.

The majority of suicide victims have such psychological pain and darkness beyond what anyone can imagine. My son suffered tremendously from the kind of depression that clouds one’s ability to see past their pain. I do not believe many of those who die from suicide did so because they wanted to hurt their loved ones, or get even with someone or got angry enough to give up. The majority of those who die by suicide do so to kill their pain, to break out of their darkness. Some may suffer from a psychosis, schizophrenia or advanced bipolar disorder.

In any event this can be a complex subject with much more to consider than blaming others, or judging others or coming to wrong conclusions without adequate information. It’s important to show love, compassion and understanding to families who are left as survivors of suicide. If someone suffers a death by suicide doesn’t they do not go to Heaven. God will always do what’s right and we leave our loved ones in His hands.

My wife and I have led a support group for survivors of suicide for a number of years helping over 55 families deal with the grief of losing a loved one to suicide. We’ve held an annual Suicide Awareness Concert for 8 years with well known Christian artist’s like Matthew West, Sanctus Real, Seventh Day Slumber, Tenth Avenue North, Jimmy Needham and Josh Wilson, to name a few. If you are interested in examining this most important subject you can order my book “Ryan’s Story”(http://www.amazon.com/Ryans-Story-Ken-Dignan/dp/1597550213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365369267&sr=8-1&keywords=Ryan%27s+Story+dignan) that shares our story and how we’ve received God’s grace and help to deal with our loss. We have the assurance that our son Ryan knew the Lord as his savior and friend. We believe God allowed him to go home to Heaven where there’s no more pain.

Comments

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8 Comments

  1. Janis says:

    Thank you for sharing. You (and your wife) are truly blessings. My great grandfather’s sibling committed suicide as did two of his sons (my great uncles) they were my mom’s age, so I remember them. Some in the family have struggled with whether or not they went to heaven or not. I always tried to tell myself they did; God knew how they were suffering. This happened with my cousin’s wife also, she jumped from a tower in Blue Island when she was in labor, God had to be especially understanding then, didn’t he? Her hormones were out of whack. Anyhow, I’m sorry about your son, and thank you again for sharing in the Lord.

  2. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing your loss, breaking the walls of stigma and reaching out to others. Christ’s peace to you and your family. I look forward to meeting Ryan and introducing you to my brothers. Amen

  3. So sorry to hear about your loss. Salvation belong to our God for sure and only He decides not us…

    I hope the Holy Spirit comforts you even so much time later from your loss.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Ken-
    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I in turn, like to stop by those who comment on mine. Your loss is tremendous. Each of our stories is infused with God. Wonderful that you can take your loss and shape it into support for others. Prayers for you, the Warrens, and all who suffer from depression. It is a battle that deserves awareness and love. Jennifer

  5. kdignan says:

    Thank you for your comments. I always appreciate hearing back from those who’ve read one of my blog posts. God bless you and consider clicking on to my ‘Til Healing Comes Facebook site and consider becoming a friend to get all my new posts on my blog. Ken Dignan

  6. kdignan says:

    Thank you for your comments. I always appreciate hearing back from those who’ve read one of my blog posts. God bless you and consider clicking on to my ‘Til Healing Comes Facebook site and consider becoming a friend to get all my new posts on my blog. Ken Dignan

  7. kdignan says:

    Thank you for your comments. I always appreciate hearing back from those who’ve read one of my blog posts. God bless you and consider clicking on to my ‘Til Healing Comes Facebook site and consider becoming a friend to get all my new posts on my blog. Ken Dignan

  8. kdignan says:

    Thank you for your comments. I always appreciate hearing back from those who’ve read one of my blog posts. God bless you and consider clicking on to my ‘Til Healing Comes Facebook site and consider becoming a friend to get all my new posts on my blog. Ken Dignan

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