By Karl Benzio, M.D.
Nearly 40,000 people in America take their own life each year, or one every 40 seconds worldwide, according to a new study released this month by the World Health Organization.
Annually, during the second week of September, the nation observes Suicide Prevention Week.
Below are nine less frequently discussed but vitally important aspects of suicide.
- Having everything isn’t just about the material. Many with great riches feel empty and bankrupt. Wealth is determined by your spiritual and psychological portfolio. Are you connected to God? Do you feel His love and acceptance? Do you understand your purpose? Are peace, joy and thankfulness a regular part of your days and life?
- People try many times and in many ways to end their pain. From wealth and family to drugs and alcohol, people try many methods to ease suffering. If everyone had the option to end the pain and live, they would choose it. Unfortunately, after many attempts to end their extreme pain, the only option they see as a way out is death.
- The spiritual plays a significant part in healing or hurting. Every person has hurts and wounds inside. Only our Creator knows what we need and has the power fully to heal.
- Depression is a chronic issue requiring a spirit/mind/body integrated approach. Sadness is a temporary reaction to stressors. Depression is an ongoing struggle with the core problem of not seeing self and life through clear lenses. Ours lenses aren’t cleaned overnight—it’s an ongoing process of incorporating the Bible’s promises to develop eyes that really see the truth, then the truth can set us free. Taking an integrated BioPsychoSpiritual approach is essential.
- Substance use is a poor coping skill. Although substances, and any addiction (work, exercise, food, productivity, control, power, attention), bring some acute relief, they interfere with our development of healthy coping skills. Our addictions also bring consequences which isolate us even more and make a bigger hole—one that is seemingly impossible to get out of. Relying on the created and not the Creator will not end well.
- Those who are suicidal can feel like a burden and don’t see themselves as selfish. Outsiders often view suicide as a selfish act, but when dissecting the situation, the individual really did have their loved ones’ best interests at heart. Suicidal people feel everyone would be better off if they weren’t around. They see themselves as a failure and a contamination to everyone around them.
- Seeds are planted in childhood. We all have wounds and baggage from our imperfect childhoods. Honest self-reflection and self-assessment are necessary to uncover the misinformation that plays over and over in our heads. Then, we can replace it with truth and develop healthy skills to lead a victorious and abundant life.
- We can agree with the general suicide message of, “I don’t want to live this way anymore.” Therefore, we should look at a new option—trying life with Jesus, trusting the teachings of the Bible and using them in everyday situations. A suicidal person has nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying this alternative.
- Help is available, but it is an ongoing process. Many opportunities for hope and help are available, but a 100% transformation is not immediate. Process is necessary, but much enjoyment comes from the process as well as the destination. Finding the right people to rely on for compassion and hope, then learning the right perspectives and skills will guide anyone from darkness to light, bondage to freedom—healing the brokenhearted and setting the captives free.
(If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact the Lighthouse Network Helpline at 1-877-562-2565.)
Startling suicide epidemic facts:
- In 2011, 39,518 people in the U.S. died as a result of suicide
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- Suicide is very often underreported due to mistakes by the coroner, the stigma associated with suicide, the uncertainty of whether accidents and overdoses were accidental or intentional, doubts with life insurance policies and family embarrassment.
- Many suicides are “passive” suicides, due to people giving up and stopping medications or other life-sustaining treatments because they want to die. These suicides may be reported as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.
- When taking underreported suicides into account, suicide may easily become the second-leading cause of death behind heart disease.
- A suicide occurs every 40 seconds worldwide (World Health Organization, September 2014)