Today is #WorldSuicidePreventionDay2020, a day organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and co-sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Federation for Mental Health. This day brings awareness to everyone around the world that suicide can be prevented and how to help loved ones who are fighting suicidal thoughts.
This year, more than ever due to the pandemic and the social distancing/quarantined measures that have been put in place to fight the coronavirus, people’s mental health and wellness have taken a toll. According to a recent report from ForEveryMom.com, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 25.5 percent or one in four adults, ages 18-24, say they have contemplated suicide in the past month as a result of the pandemic. The CDC study surveyed over 5,000 people between June 24, 2020 and June 30, 2020. The numbers of those who reported suicidal ideation was up three times from 2019’s second quarter.
Teen suicide is also ripe for a spike because of the present coronavirus circumstances, according to Dr. Kara Powell of Fuller Youth Institute in a recent ChurchLeaders podcast. “Yesterday I heard more about the suicide of young people and had more questions about it than literally any other day of my life,” Powell said. She explained that there is significant stress above what normally people deal with on a daily basis. Powell attributed the source of this added stress to health fears, loved ones getting the virus, the loss of jobs, bills piling up, and the lack of community from social distancing. Because of those added stressors, Powell says some will “experience an increase in depression and suicidal ideation.”
Christians Aren’t Immune to Depression and Suicide
Christians aren’t immune to depression or thoughts about suicide. Just within this past year, two well-known pastors and Christian authors took their own lives after suffering with depression. Pastor Darrin Patrick of Seacoast Church in South Carolina died May 7, 2020 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. On September 9, 2019, Associate Pastor Jarrid Wilson of Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, took his own life one day before last year’s World Suicide Prevention Day.
Wilson fought to de-stigmatize mental illness in the church and challenged the church to develop a deeper theology. “Stop telling people that suicide leads to hell,” Wilson wrote. “It’s bad theology and proof one doesn’t understand the basic psychology surrounding mental health issues. In closing, we must understand God hates suicide just as much as the next person. Why? Because it defies God’s yearning for the sanctity of life. But while suicide is not something God approves of, no mess is too messy for the grace of Jesus. This includes suicide.”
How NOT to Help
C.Michael Patton provides this list of things NEVER to say to a depressed Christian. Patton has struggled with depression, and shared that just recently he has come out a depression he had for almost five years. Here are the seven things he mentioned not to ever say:
Never say this to a depressed Christian:
- “Just Snap Out of It”
- “Think Positively”
- “Confess Your Sins”
- “Get on Some Meds Immediately!”
- “I’ve Been Through Worse”
- “God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle”
- “Depression Is a Sin—You Should Have Joy in Your Life”
Please Reach Out for Help
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text an emotional support counselor with the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.