IMPORTANT MESSAGE: If you are feeling depressed and suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Last week, CNN celebrity chef host Anthony Bourdain chose to end his life, reportedly after years of battling depression and drug abuse and feeling that he was “an unhappy soul, with a huge heroin and then crack problem,” as Bourdain revealed in an interview with The Guardian.
This comes just a week after another celebrity, Kate Spade, committed suicide.
Suicide is a big problem in the U.S. According to a study done by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2014, the annual suicide rate in the U.S. is 13 per 100,000 individuals, their highest rate in thirty years, and has been increasing since 1999.
According to the study’s findings:
In 2016, the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) recorded specific data about the number of suicides by age group and sex. It reported that 436 people aged 10-14 committed suicide, 265 males and 171 females. Ages 15-24, we see a massive jump in numbers to 5723 total, 4575 males, 1148 females. Ages 25-34 saw 7366 total suicides, with 5887 males and 1479 females. 35-44 had 7030 total, 5294 males, 1736 females. 45-54 saw a total of 8437, the highest of any age group, with 6198 males ending their lives and 2239 females. 55-64 saw 7759 total suicides, the second highest, with 5745 males and 2014 females. 65-74 saw a dip in numbers with a total of 4403, 3463 males and 940 females. Finally, people older than 75 saw a total of 3801 suicides, with 3291 males and 510 females, the largest male to female ratio.
In total, 2016 saw 44,965 people end their lives – a terrible amount no matter how you look at it.
In the United States, the top 5 states in highest suicide rates (2016) were Montana, Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah, in that order. Montana’s suicide rate per 100,000 people stood at 25.9 and Utah’s stood at 21.8. Of course, there are a lot of variables to consider such as population, wealth, social standing, culture and religion.
In the military, it’s more likely for a soldier to end their own life than to die on the battlefield, at least according to a 2009 U.S. Army report, which also included military veterans.
And for LGBT people (specifically youth), their suicide rates are 1.5 to 3 times higher than heterosexual youth.
Suicide is an epidemic in the United States. It hurts family, friends and loved ones. It’s generally a non-partisan issue; both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals discourage suicide. So despite the strong amount of support people have and the amount of discouraging that happens regarding suicide in general, why does it still happen? And why is it happening so often? And why so much more today than before?
Given the title of this article, you can already guess the answer to these questions.
I often speak about the lack of Christ in people’s hearts. But usually, I speak about how the lack of Christ in their hearts leads people to choose evil and side with evil; do evil things, say evil things, etc. I often talk about how there is a lack of Christ in the Left’s heart. But when I do, I often talk about the people in some level of power, within and without the government. People like Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the MSM as a whole, among others. It’s easy to forget, in these attacks and callouts to these evil people, that there is also a lack of Christ in regular Americans’ lives.
While in 2015, 75% of all Americans identify as Christian, that number is lower than it was in 2012 (78%), 2001 (81.6%) and 1990 (85%). Still a sizeable majority, but a clearly declining figure (though there is hope for some rising figures in the nearby future).
It’s this decline in Christianity that I want to take a look at, because this largely coincides with suicide rates. Less people identify as Christians today than before and more people are committing suicide than before. Now, I won’t say that that’s the entire reason for it, but it I will say that has a major impact.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry on depressed inpatients, “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation… subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide.”
And they concluded that “Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients.”
Now, this does not mean that religiously affiliated people do not commit suicide. While this study showed these results, they do not specify any particular religion. They just say that religion tends to be a deterrent for suicidal people. Pretty much all religions view suicide negatively and something that should not be done, with Islam specifically forbidding suicide completely (except in regards to suicide bombing). So, I certainly am not suggesting that we should turn to Islam to prevent suicide. But the AJP notes that religion tends to keep more people from ending it all.
Regarding Christianity, I unfortunately could not find specific data pertaining to Christian suicides, but I know that they can happen. Some years back, a Christian friend of mine committed suicide. While I do not have specific data, I have known it to happen at least for one Christian. So it does happen.
Why? I unfortunately do not know. As a Christian, I understand that suicide, while it isn’t necessarily a sin, is not something God wants for us. He has laid out a plan for our lives and that plan ends in VICTORY - always. While it is also never a surprise for Him when Christians commit suicide, He works all things for good in the end and He certainly has a purpose for us.
People can and often do things that are against God’s commandments. Sin is a prime example of people going against God. And it’s something that everyone does, including the most ardent followers of Christ.
Not to attack any Christian’s faith, but a Christian committing suicide, in my opinion, tends to not have very strong faith in Christ. Think of it this way: if you commit suicide, you are effectively choosing your own fate that goes against what God has chosen for you. And doing so sometimes could be because of a lack of faith or weak faith in Christ.
I understand that such a claim could be very upsetting. I cannot make this claim a general one. Each individual case is different and there are things going on that usually no one other than God knows about. With regard to my Christian friend, there were clearly things that I did not know were going on with her. Things that not one of her friends or family likely knew about. What drove her to suicide is entirely beyond me. I speculate that it might be from weak faith or shaken faith in Christ, but I cannot claim to know. The only being in existence that can know is the Lord. Only He knows what was in her heart.
The reason I speculate this is because of my understanding of the nature of Man. I’ve said this time and time again that Man is naturally evil. This includes Christians. The difference is that Christians understand that Christ is Lord and understand His constant fight with the evil one, which will end upon His return. It’s this understanding that gives us the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. It’s because we are naturally evil that we cannot enter Heaven on our own accord. We need Christ for that. And it’s because we are naturally evil that we sin.
It’s this evil in our hearts that drives us to commit evil acts. It’s our evil hearts that drive us further from God, giving us doubt and fears and insecurity. Again, I cannot claim to know what my Christian friend was going through, but it makes logical sense if her faith was shaken to a degree – if she had doubts, if she felt fears and insecurities that she felt God would not appease. That is the kind of logical sense I try to make of my friend’s case. And that is the kind of sense I try to make of many Christians’ cases.
I know that I have a very strong faith in Christ. And while I may not know every path ahead of me, I have no fears of the future, for I know God is with me. It’s this trust in God that keeps me joyous and away from a noose.
Because I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea where I’d be if I was not a Christian. I became a Christian in high school, but in middle school, I had spent some time living through a sort of existential crisis: I thought an awful lot about death, how short life is and how there might not be a Heaven. I thought about what the point of life was. While I never got close to actually considering suicide, even back then, I have little doubt that I could be clinically depressed today if I were not a Christian.
My faith in Christ has helped me live a joyous life that has only just begun. But I do wonder what has driven other Christians to suicide. I really am trying to avoid angering anyone or upsetting anyone by saying that they were weak of faith. My intention is not to anger people. My intention here is to make logical sense of it all, even if I’m missing crucial details, and encourage people to have a strong faith in Christ.
Part of the reason I say this is because I also know that anyone can claim to be a Christian and not actually be one. Let’s look at that Christianity number again. If 75% of Americans were solidly Christian, I can guarantee that no Democrat would ever get elected. I can guarantee that no Leftist policy would be integrated, same-sex marriage and abortion would not be legal, it would not even be a political issue, and this country would not be so fresh off the disaster of the Obama presidency.
Anyone can claim to be a Christian but lack Christ in their hearts. The Bible often mentions this sort of thing in the books of James, Isaiah, Matthew, 1 John, 2 Timothy, Luke, etc. It warns us of people who claim to be of faith but are far from it.
Again, my intention is not to attack anyone’s faith in Christ. My intention is to draw a logical conclusion from Christian suicide and from suicide in general.
Forgive me if you are upset by what I have said. But please take this as an affirmation to the importance of faith in Christ.
My faith has saved me from more than just the depths of Hell. It has saved me from living a life of worry and depression and panic over what comes after death. It has saved me from living such a life and from ever considering suicide an option. I hope that applies to you as well.
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
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