Some call it self-deliverance. Others call it murder. Survivors know it as a nightmare that haunts them forever. Here’s the truth about its cause—and ultimate solution.
Getting over the loss of a loved one who intentionally takes his own life is close to impossible. “When Mom told me Dad was dead, I was shocked. When she told me he had killed himself, I was horrified. My brain went numb,” a young friend of mine, Dawn, explains, with tears flowing.
“It took about four months before I didn’t think every day about what he did—four months before the pain began to dull. My dad hung himself; trying to escape his problems, I guess. But I couldn’t escape what he had done. For four months I dealt with constant mental torment and agony. I was scared to be alone. I tried to keep myself occupied so I wouldn’t think about it. Anything was better than thinking of what he had done. Why did he do it? That question always comes back into my mind. I still don’t like to tell people how he died.
“For over a year, I struggled with feelings of guilt. I thought that I wasn’t a good daughter. My dad loved me so much, but I was too busy for him. The last time I saw him was two days before Father’s Day. We had dinner together. He wasn’t doing too well then. He had some financial problems. But I never thought he would kill himself.
“I never spoke to Dad after that. I was going to call him … always going to call him, yet I never did. I still wonder if I could have helped him had I called him. I get melancholy every year around the anniversary of his death, Father’s Day and his birthday. I guess I will always wonder, Would he still be here if I had called?”
Dawn’s tragic story is only one of multiple thousands of similar tales told each year. Thousands of loved ones suffer crushing heartbreak on hearing the news that a father, brother, sister, mother, wife or friend committed suicide.
Even you may share Dawn’s experience or know someone like her. More Americans now die by suicide than by car crashes. A study published in the November 2012 American Journal of Public Health showed that the number of people who commit suicide has dramatically increased. The suicide rate in America rose a shocking 15 percent from 2000 to 2009.
There is a trend in society to make suicide an acceptable and legal choice for people suffering from terminal illness. Advocates of terminally ill suicide, using political correctness as a cloak, call it self-deliverance. Several pro-suicide authors have even published “how to” manuals giving instructions—with illustrations—on ways to end your life.
Derek Humphry, author of Final Exit, writes, “All I ask of persons to whom any form of euthanasia is morally repugnant is tolerance and understanding of the feelings of others who want the right to choose what happens to their bodies in a free society. To every person their own way of death.” When first published in 1991, Final Exit stunned the nation. It also became a number one bestseller. The book is now in its third edition. Final Exit’s popularity indicates that a large number of people do not consider suicide morally repugnant. Many now see it as a quick fix for unwanted personal problems.
There is no doubt that proponents of suicide for the terminally ill are sincere in their beliefs. They emphasize the need to help those considering such an act to do so in a dignified way, making their death a “good death.” Those who have written books want to inform people how to get the proper equipment, including drugs, in order to carry out the quickest, most peaceful way to make a “final exit.” Yet, the books have become a real problem.
“In its first 10 years this book was occasionally used by persons for whom it was not intended—the deeply depressed and the mentally ill,” Humphry wrote. “This misuse I regret but can do nothing about. Suicide has always been endemic in mankind; some of us do not have the emotional and intellectual equipment to cope with a lifetime of troubles—real and imagined—and elect to die. Self-destruction of a physically fit person is always a tragic waste of life and hurtful to survivors, but life is a personal responsibility. We must each decide for ourselves.” This is quite a revealing statement. Let’s look at it closely.
The word occasionally means happening from time to time but not regularly or frequently. Let’s talk reality. Over a million copies of Humphry’s book have been purchased. To say that Final Exit was misused only occasionally appears to be wishful thinking.
Coroners around the U.S. are discovering that many others besides the depressed and mentally ill are taking advantage of the “help” provided in the book—including teenagers and young adults! Although we may never know exactly how many, what is certain is that Humphry and other authors like him are helping many people without terminal illnesses to end their lives.
Last July, a 24-year-old woman packed her car full of dangerous chemicals, drove to a public park, mixed the chemicals together and allowed the reaction to snuff out her life. The chemicals in the car were so dangerous to responders that they had to wear hazmat suits to clean up the scene. Investigators remarked that it was like a page right out of Final Exit. This happened right here in the Trumpet’s hometown of Edmond. A spokesperson for the Oklahoma State medical examiner’s office said they had reviewed 12 recent deaths related to Final Exit. Oftentimes, the book is found with the deceased.
Teen Suicide Skyrockets
Humphry attempts to excuse any responsibility for the tragic waste of life outside the scope of his intended audience by saying that suicide has always been common in man’s history. But someone must take responsibility and recognize that suicide is rapidly growing dramatically out of control for all age groups—especially the young.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported in 2012 that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 5-to-14-year-olds. Suicide manuals like Final Exit are not causing all these deaths, but they do encourage teen suicide. How? All suicide manuals highly romanticize the death of terminally ill patients as being brave, courageous, dignified and inspiring. They make suicide more visible and more acceptable. This has a huge impact on impressionable minds. Teens readily accept the open-mindedness toward and encouragement of this tragic act.
“Research describes how adolescents become curious and even excited when suicide is talked about in heroic ways as opposed to being characterized as a result of mental illness,” Carla Fine writes in No Time to Say Goodbye. “This romanticizing of death often accounts for copycat suicides among young people and outbreaks of cluster suicides in schools and communities.”
Incidents of teen cluster suicides are rising throughout the U.S. In mid-summer 2012, Delaware Online reported that the Centers for Disease Control (cdc) was called on to investigate the cause of a dramatic rise in teen suicides in Kent and Sussex counties. In the first four months of 2012, 11 young people under age 20 hung or shot themselves—and a stunning 116 others attempted to commit suicide. Three of the teenagers from Polytech High School in Woodside killed themselves within two months of each other. Two of the students were friends and died within the same week.
Dr. Alex Crosby, medical epidemiologist with the cdc, said that statistically he’d expect to see seven suicides in this age group throughout the entire state in a year; this high rate of suicide attempts is shocking. The communities, local government officials, school and health officials were stunned. They are at a loss to understand why such waste of young, talented, vibrant life. Even more, they want to know how to stop the problem from growing worse.
Fine writes, “The suicide of a student touches everyone—students, teachers, administrators and support staff—stirring up the same kind of emotions and conflicts that affect all survivors of suicide.” She emphasizes that nothing should be done to glamorize or dramatize a suicide. Yet, doing nothing is as dangerous as doing too much. She suggests that the school faculty be thoroughly counseled about suicide before attempting to help students.
Top Killer of Americans
These Delaware communities are not the only places rocked by suicide. Suicides are now the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S.
“Suicides are terribly under-counted,” Ian Rockett, the author of the American Journal of Public Health study about the rise in suicides, told Mail Online. “I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe. We have a situation that has gotten out of hand.”
Rockett has more grim statistics. He believes there may be an additional 20 percent or more unrecognized suicide deaths. For example, poisoning deaths rose 128 percent in the same time period, a portion of which were most likely intentional. Deaths from falls rose 71 percent. It is likely that a portion of those falls were not accidental either.
The failing U.S. economy may have contributed to the spike in American suicides. Suicides reached a record high of 22 people per 100,000 in 1932, during the Great Depression. By contrast, in the economically prosperous year 2000, only 10 per 100,000 people took their lives—less than half of the 1932 figures.
Suicide is not just an American problem; international data show it rising around the world. The suicide rate in Greece has skyrocketed. Before its economic crises, Greece had the lowest rate of suicide in Europe.
The nations having the most trouble with suicide are those of the affluent Western world. Suicide rates appear to be lowest in Muslim countries—the Koran forbids suicide. So does the Bible, but most Westerners have a loose relationship with their Bibles, at best.
Facing Down Suicide
Alarmed by the rising number of suicides in the U.S., Congress established a $56 million suicide prevention program in 2004 under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. The goal to save lives is laudable, but it can only be achieved if we face the truth about the real cause of suicide.
Pouring money into suicide education and prevention programs will not stop this tragedy. Expensive prevention programs have not stopped alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse, crime, illiteracy, poverty, spousal abuse or violence. Even with our intellectual and creative abilities, we have proved incapable of solving our really tough problems. We need the truth.
The truth is this: Suicide is a spiritual problem. To eradicate suicide, we must confront it spiritually.
Suicide advocates are anti-God. They have to be in order to recommend that someone take his own life. Derek Humphry writes, “If the reader of this book is deeply religious and takes all guidance from a divinity, then there is no point reading further.” Wow! That is a very blunt but true statement. When a person has a close relationship with God, suicide is off the table.
In a similar vein, most experts who want to stop suicide are not comfortable bringing God into the picture either. They try to teach others to look for signs of a potential suicide, but fail to teach people how to eliminate the cause of suicide.
How does God look at suicide? To God, suicide is not brave, courageous or romantic.
Suicide is not self-deliverance. Suicide is murder!
The Bible forbids this evil act, but few today live according to the Bible. Our loving and living God calls suicide a heinous sin—a violation of the Sixth Commandment—which not only brings a life to a tragic end, but also spreads indescribable suffering to those left behind.
“When my dad committed suicide, I felt betrayed,” Dawn told me. “He was supposed to love me and always be there for me, but he abandoned me instead. Dad was supposed to walk me down the aisle. I wanted to have a baby boy and name him after my dad—it was going to be a surprise. I was excited to introduce him to my friends and—one day—to my husband. I wanted them to see how cool and fun he was. But I never got the chance.”
A survivor told Carla Fine, “When someone says to me that my husband must have been very brave to take his own life, I get furious. The real heroes of this drama are those of us who are trying to put our lives back together, piece by piece. We are the ones who have to face straightening up the mess and making sense of the insanity. We cry, we laugh, we hang on to each other for dear life, but we do survive, thank God.”
Even the loved ones of terminally ill patients find it difficult to cope with self-inflicted death. Those who have experienced a loss to suicide want to stop it so no one else suffers its emotional wake.
God cares about the gut-wrenching grief caused by suicide!
There IS Value to Human Life
To solve our national suicide epidemic, we must turn to God. We have to put our spiritual lives back together—piece by piece.
Even those most religious have drifted so far from God and His instruction book for happiness—the Holy Bible—that few know God’s purpose for creating human life. Most of the world’s educated do not believe there is a God. Few believe there is purpose for human beings beyond this material life. They accept evolution as the truth about the origins of the universe and man. Believing this fable, they are blind to the fact that there is a transcendent purpose for the universe and for mankind—a purpose that includes you!
Let’s be honest. Belief in evolution is the foundation of the pro-suicide philosophy infesting our world.
God has an awesome purpose for mankind. He spells it out clearly in the Bible for everyone willing to read and believe. In fact, God gave us the Bible so every man, woman and child can attain that purpose. A thorough study of the Bible reveals that God is the great giver. When He created the Earth, He provided every good thing for each of us to become a sensational success—not a failure. Suicide is the ultimate failure.
“What is the most necessary of all knowledge to know?” Herbert W. Armstrong asked in his fantastic book The Incredible Human Potential. “It is the knowledge of what man is; the knowledge of why he is—the purpose for which humanity was put on Earth; the knowledge of the way to achieve that purpose—of the way to world peace, peace between individuals, groups and nations; the knowledge of the cause of all the world’s troubles and evils; the knowledge of the solution to all these problems; the knowledge of the true values—what is important and what is worthless. That is the missing dimension in knowledge.”
Jesus Christ revealed this knowledge in His gospel message. His Father sent Him to Earth to be an example of achieving God’s purpose for man. Even though He was God in the flesh, Jesus nobly faced trials, tests and life’s problems—even a torturous death at the hands of others—as a human being (Hebrews 4:15).
When we know God’s purpose for us, we become willing to work through anything life throws at us—even a painful death caused by terminal illness. Knowing our purpose brings us into a working relationship with God, which ensures our success. Who wouldn’t want to know what God has in store for us?
“Put together all these scriptures … and you begin to grasp the incredible human potential. Our potential is to be born into the God Family, receiving total power! We are to be given jurisdiction over the entire universe! What are we going to do then? These scriptures indicate we shall impart life to billions and billions of dead planets, as life has been imparted to this Earth. We shall create, as God directs and instructs,” Herbert Armstrong wrote. At first glance, this truth is unbelievable (John 3:3-13; Hebrews 2:5-13; Revelation 20:4). However, when we keep an open mind, it makes logical sense. How awesome is God! He gave us life so we can impart life.
The truth of God shows us the insidious side of suicide advocacy.
Choose to Live
Derek Humphry is correct on one point: Man does have a choice—we can choose to live or die. We can choose to sin or obey. God gives us that right. Yet, God encourages us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19). Why do some men encourage us to choose death?
It is not fashionable today to believe that Satan exists. Yet, an integral part of Christ’s gospel reveals that Satan is real and influences mankind to reject God’s truth—especially the knowledge of man’s glorious purpose. Christ warned us about this failed angel: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Of all things, Satan wants us to fail. He wants to murder us. His plan is to ensnare us in a life of sin that leads to confusion, depression, hopelessness, sorrow, unhappiness and, ultimately, eternal death if not repented of. It is Satan who encourages people, weakened by the overwhelming effects of sin, to commit suicide.
To prepare for our incredible eternal opportunity, man has to choose to go the opposite way of Satan and sin and build the very character of God. We build God’s character by overcoming the problems, trials, tests and evils injected into this world by Satan the devil. Never forget, man was created to be a success—not a failure. To obtain our incredible potential, each human being must be willing to live God’s way of life, which is outlined by the Ten Commandments.
Suicide is not a disease or physical illness. It is a weakness of mind and character. Suicide will not stop until mankind experiences a spiritual renewal of mind and character.
There is way of life that produces true happiness, peace and lasting success. There is a way of life that teaches us how to face and overcome problems rather than resorting to suicide.
[by Dennis Leap, writing for THE TRUMPET]
As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis