Creation Therapy for Suicidal Thoughts
Suicide has grown 30% since 2000, and is now a leading cause of death among young people. What can be done?
With the memory of suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade in recent news, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released alarming statistics. Medical Xpress reports.
From 2000 to 2016 there was a 30 percent increase in the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States, according to a June data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics….
“In 2016, suicide became the second leading cause of death among those aged 10 to 34 and the fourth leading cause among those aged 35 to 54,” the authors write.
The means by which people committed suicide are not necessary to know. What’s tragic is that so many people are leading lives that they find very unsatisfying.
In this commentary, I want to be very sensitive and gentle toward any who are feeling suicidal and may be looking for answers. I believe I can help— not I, of course, but a very real and living God who cares about every one of us. I don’t pretend to know what circumstances are leading you to feel so down. I do know, however, that most people, including myself, experience trials, tears and crises. The fact that multitudes of great people have persevered through difficulties far worse than any of us will ever know is enough to provide hope that there are answers out there. Right now, there are Christians in North Korea living under horrific conditions, who nevertheless cling to life, pray, and try to help others worse off than themselves. So it can be done. Before anything else, though, make sure your depression is not a result of a medical condition. Some drugs, parasites or physical conditions can cause depression; those may require medical attention.
I would not be surprised if many suicide victims (not all, of course) sought a way out from a meaningless life. Not knowing what it’s about is depressing in itself, even in good circumstances. A life bouncing from thrill to thrill gets disgusting after awhile, like a diet of chocolate. I can think of other triggers, like a bad relationship, feeling trapped in a marriage, family, career, or even just monotony. Some are wracked by guilt. Some may live in fear of a terminal illness. Some suicidal persons may feel trapped in debt, like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, who couldn’t handle the pressure any more and jumped off a bridge (to be saved, as we know, by an angel in training). Frank Capra used that story to show how people are often unaware of their own influence. Taking a quick exit can leave a deep hole in the lives of others.
My suggestions are, I hope, better than Capra’s movie, which may look melodramatic to some. Let’s start with meaning in life. At CEH, we show day by day how the Darwinian explanation for life is meaningless, vacuous, and unsupported by the facts of science. What meaning is there in being an evolved ape that got here by chance and will go extinct? No wonder some find escape from meaningless existence in a meaningless universe by checking out.
The answer is not ‘religion’ but relationship with our Creator. We were each individually crafted by a wise and loving God, who desires for us to have an abundant life. There’s nobody else like you. Nobody can fill your shoes. You may have had bad earthly parents, but you have a loving heavenly Father who is perfect. He understands you. He cares for you. You can trust Him. He proved his love (John 1:12) by dying on a cruel cross to remove the penalty you deserve for breaking the Great Commandment—which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. That is not selfish for God, because He made us! We wouldn’t be here without Him. To love God is to love good, because God is good. To love God is to love love, because God is love. To love God is to love justice, because God is just. All the perfections of excellence are found in Him, and He desires to share His excellence with us forever. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He made his gift accessible to everyone: man, woman, child in any nation or people group: repent of your sin, and believe in His provision of eternal life through Jesus. See our Site Map for the signposts to the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Jesus Christ.
Entering a relationship with your Maker through Jesus Christ is the key to healing suicidal tendencies, but there’s more to work on after you become a Christ follower, because even Christians can get depressed and suicidal. There are some day-to-day thought processes that need to change, and will change, as the Holy Spirit enters your life and begins to work. His work will accelerate as you study God’s word and learn to trust God in prayer. Finding Christian friends at a solid, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church is extremely helpful for preventing suicidal thoughts from coming back, but there is more you can do silently in your own mind when you are alone.
I want to share what I think is the greatest daily therapy for preventing suicide, and that is: ‘Cultivate Gratefulness.’ It sounds too easy, but think about it. Look at what this one habit of mind can do for you.
- You can’t be depressed if you are grateful.
- You can’t be angry if you are grateful.
- You can’t be selfish if you are grateful.
- You can’t be anxious or afraid if you are grateful.
- You can’t be jealous or envious if you are grateful.
- You can’t be bored if you are grateful.
This is not a complete list. Almost every destructive state of mind flees away from a grateful heart. I’m not talking about a mechanical “Thank you God for everything” ritual as if this is a magic wand. I mean really cultivating gratefulness, and directing your gratitude to God throughout the day, in the details. The more you look at things with a truly grateful spirit, the more the world becomes alive, colorful, and rich. It brings joy— the very thing that suicidal persons desperately need.
If a great artist handed you a masterpiece, would you just say “Thank you” and set it down? That would be rude! To really show gratitude for a priceless gift, you would look at it and study it in detail, spending time to marvel at each nuance of color, stroke, and composition. You would ask questions about it and listen to the artist’s reasons and purposes for each shade of color, facial expression, and placement of objects. You would eagerly learn about the purpose of the painting, and what message is being conveyed through it. That is how you really say ‘thank you’ in the sense I’m talking about. With God, we do that by studying His Word, and looking at the perfections of Jesus. ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face,’ an old chorus advises, ‘and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.’ The things of earth include those things that are making you depressed, angry or bored.
Each of us has a priceless gift: a body and a mind. Your body may not ideal. It may even be physically handicapped. You may think you cannot measure up to the ‘beautiful people’ around you. Let me challenge you to thank God anyway. Look at someone who is severely handicapped, say a quadriplegic like Joni Eareckson Tada. Talk about someone who has reasons for feeling depressed! She says in her testimony she went through a suicidal stage after her accident (see this short film on TheJohn1010Project.com). We could claim with scientific support, however, that probably over 99% of her body is working perfectly. Even though she has lost muscle control from the shoulders down, her heart is pumping; her lungs are breathing, her digestive system is working; and trillions of cells are doing exactly what they should be doing. At an age near 70, her heart has beaten successfully without fail over 2.2 billion times! That’s amazing— no mechanical engineer could invent a device with that kind of performance record. Can you see why ungratefulness is one of the reasons for God’s wrath on this sinful world? It’s the ultimate insult against the ultimate Inventor. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21). Don’t let that be your epitaph!
At CEH, we report often about the body and its wonders. Check the ‘Human Body‘ category from the top pull-down menu and read till your mind overflows with wonder at the capabilities God has put into your body. If there was ever a generation that should be grateful for such a complex, comprehensive, high-performance machine, it should be our generation. Science has revealed wonders never dreamed of before. The wonders extend all the way from the complete body down to the molecular machines inside trillions of cells. I challenge you to read those articles and then think that anybody should dare to smother it, slit its wrists or poison it. Such a marvel should be treated like a treasure at the Louvre, or a pampered race car. Let me go further, if I might, and dare to say that not treating it so is as rude as criticizing the Artist who handed you that masterpiece. Have you ever said ‘I hate myself; I’m so ugly.’ Think about it. Are you not being ungrateful? You don’t hate yourself. You think you deserve better. As Dave Hunt used to say, ‘If you really hated yourself, you would be glad you’re ugly.’ The problem is pride; you love your self, instead of loving God. Pride leads to destruction. Gratitude leads to joy. Try this exercise: learn something every day about your body that you didn’t know, and verbally thank God for it. If you have a pain somewhere, or a deformity, find things that are working and make it a point to thank your Maker explicitly for those parts, before you pray for healing.
The other great gift from your Creator is your mind. If you received a turbo-charged, expensive computer as a gift, wouldn’t it be dumb to use it just for Facebook or Solitaire? Think of all the capabilities it has that you would miss out on. You could make art, compose music, write books, communicate across the world, and do a thousand great works with it. You could spend a lifetime learning about all it can do. We have brains that are vastly more powerful than a computer. Scientists say you have more power in your brain than all the world’s computers combined! As individuals, we are more than computers. We are living souls, each unique in the universe. We each have a role to play in God’s plan for eternity. You’ll find joy in fulfilling His purpose for you by using your body and brain as He intended. In addition to the human talents God gives to all people, God endows each Christ follower with spiritual gifts that allow her or him to participate in the fulfilling of the Great Commission, to make and multiply Christ followers who fulfill God’s master plan for themselves and for the world. What an awesome and exciting project to be involved in! Cultivate gratitude, then lose yourself in the global mission God is fulfilling in His people.
These suggestions work. They turn a suicidal heart away from self and onto God and others. As you get lost in the beauty of God, and the love of Christ, and the mission He has for you, you will find joy. You won’t even have time to think about suicide. Those thoughts will fly back to the devil who sent them to rob you of the joy God made you for. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Incidentally, the John 10:10 project website is filled with beautiful and meaningful videos to bring healing to your life and faith. Pick some from the menu and watch them now. And if any of this commentary helped you, we’d like to know. Write editor [at] crev.info and tell us; your privacy will be honored.