The tragedy of suicide, taking one’s own life, occurs throughout the world. It is not limited to any age, gender, religion, or ethnic group, although the suicide rate is higher in some countries.
The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 800,000 people die from suicide each year, or one death every 40 seconds. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others who attempted suicide. In 2019, the countries with the top 5 rates of suicide were Lithuania, Russia, Guyana, South Korea and Belarus. Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China. Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate and young people are now the group at highest risk in a third of all countries.
The incidence of suicide is at an epidemic level in the United States. According to one news report in November 2018, the U.S. suicide rate was at a 50-year high! The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, AFSP, reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. More people die—on average 132 per day—as a result of suicide than car accidents in the U.S. That is over 48,000 deaths due to suicide in the U.S. per year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S. reports that suicide is the #2 cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. In addition, there were approximately 1,400,000 Americans who attempted suicide in 2017. Women attempt suicide 1.4 times more often than men, but men die as the result of suicide 3.5 times more often than women. Physicians have been reported to have a higher rate of suicide—twice as high—than any other profession.
Veterans in the U.S. have been taking their own lives at the rate of at least 20 per day. More than 6,000 veterans die by suicide annually. Active-duty, U.S. military suicides were at a record high in 2018 with a total of 321, including Marines, sailors, airmen and soldiers. That was the highest number of suicides among active-duty personnel in at least 6 years.
All for Jesus Ministries is based in New Mexico in the United States. According to this New Mexico website:
New Mexico’s rate of suicide has consistently been more than 50% higher than the U.S. rate. Sadly, New Mexico had the fourth highest suicide rate in the U.S. in 2016. One suicide every 19 hours—more than one per day—occurs in New Mexico. Approximately 491 people died by suicide in New Mexico in 2017. That is more than deaths resulting from breast cancer or people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The above statistics do not take into account that, due to shame or disgrace, suicide is generally underreported. Attempting suicide, or actually committing suicide, is usually the result of unbearable emotional, mental, spiritual or physical pain and trauma. Trauma includes the death of a loved one, divorce, any type of abuse, rape, being subjected to war or terrorism, a homicidal attempt on one’s life, domestic violence, serious accidents and natural disasters. The debilitating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can lead to suicide.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
2 Corinthians 1:8 (NKJV)
Paul wrote about despairing even of life in 2 Corinthians 1:8. According to 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul had gone through unimaginable trials, including beatings with rods, whippings with thirty-nine lashes five times, perils everywhere he went, surviving a ship wreck, sleeplessness, hunger and thirst, being stoned, and being thrown into prison. He endured those things without losing hope, yet in the province of Asia, something burdened him beyond measure and above strength, causing him and his companions to despair of life itself. However, they did not commit suicide, but trusted in God to deliver them. Paul said that the prayers of others brought them through their season of hopelessness.
A broken heart is often the starting point for suicidal thoughts. The person who attempts or commits suicide has lost hope that the pain will stop any other way. The enemy of our souls, the devil, adds to that hopelessness by agreeing with the person that suicide is the answer. A demonic spirit of suicide may be attached to the pain, and the combination can be deadly. When someone commits suicide, they escape the pain and trauma, but their loved ones and friends are left with devastating pain and trauma as a result and their hearts are broken into hundreds of pieces.
Suicide is a tragedy that can often be prevented. How? First and foremost, the person needs to sincerely ask Jesus Christ to come into their life and be their personal Lord and Savior. That does not automatically mean that all the pain and suicidal thoughts will instantly disappear, although that can happen. In fact, people who are followers of Jesus Christ are not unaffected by the devastation or the finality of the act of suicide, but they have the opportunity to receive healing and freedom from emotional and spiritual pain. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Healing and freedom are possible through Jesus Christ!
Feeling alone and isolating oneself from others only increases the emotional pain. During the coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, people have been more isolated than ever in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. Loneliness and depression can result, but do not have to lead to suicide.
Before the pain gets to the point where someone gives up and attempts to take his or her own life, they need to talk to someone. Talking about the pain and trauma can be very comforting and it can release some of the pressure. If necessary to avoid an irreversible act of suicide, they should seek help from a trained crisis counselor or a qualified Christian counselor or minister. Not all Christian counselors or ministers understand the enormous spiritual dynamics involved in the hopelessness that leads to suicide. However, there is help available for those who are despairing of life itself.
There are things that we can do to counteract the isolation and loneliness during Covid-19. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must put His teachings into practice. Spending dedicated time with the Lord in prayer is an essential part of fighting loneliness and depression. Reading God’s Word, the Bible, out loud and listening to praise and worship music are also extremely important. We must also control what we allow ourselves to see and hear. Turning off and/or not reading negative and upsetting news stories, commentaries, emails and text messages protects our hearts, minds and spirits from further trauma. These are very traumatic times and even the most devoted Christians can be knocked off balance if they are not careful to focus on the Lord and His goodness.
Life is a precious gift from our Most High God and He wants us to live out our destinies as His children and followers of His Son, Jesus. Satan wants to steal our life purposes, to kill us, and to destroy God’s plans for our lives. However, Jesus came so that we could have abundant life as He said in John 10:10.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
John 10:10 (NKJV)
Since we are prayer ministers, not counselors or mental health professionals, we always recommend that anyone with severe emotional symptoms seek out the help of medical doctors and trained Christian counselors in their local area and country.
In the event of an emergency situation for someone who is contemplating suicide in the United States, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, or contact the Crisis text line by texting “TALK” to 741741.
We do not suggest that we know and understand all of the aspects of mental illness, especially the effects of mind-altering drugs and prescription medications. However, we have observed that emotional pain is often accompanied by spiritual considerations that need to be addressed in the spiritual realm through prayer. Biblical inner healing prayer may help someone who has experienced suicidal thoughts, depending on the individual’s specific circumstances. When Jesus releases past pain and trauma through prayer, it also often results in the removal of suicidal tendencies. Praise the Lord!
Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Scriptures in Isaiah 61:1-3, including the following:
“…to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;”
Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
Jesus wants us to live in His joy!