Thinking Suicide? Please Think Again.
by Pastor Byron Sarracino
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please know this article is intended to help you, but it might also serve as a trigger. Please consider reading this with a close friend or family member who can help you process this information. If you do not have someone you feel comfortable with to read this article, consider calling the National Prevention Suicidal Lifeline hotline (1-800-273-8255) or check out the helpful information at (suicidepreventionlifeline.org) to help assist you with this reading.
Let me share a brief personal story with you. I had a cousin who I grew up with on the reservation. He was one of the finest athletes in our community, going so far as to win state championships in high school sports. However, there was a pain deep within him that led him to take his own life in his youth. I loved him as a brother, and to this day I miss him. Unfortunately, this story resonates with many members of our Native American communities.
Suicide has touched many of our lives, and is a delicate topic to discuss.
In order to better understand how pervasive this act is within our communities, I will share with you two statistics. The Center for Disease Control estimates that every thirteen minutes, one person in the United States takes his/her life. Among our American Indian/Alaska Native populations, suicide is the second leading cause of death between 10-34 year-olds. These numbers grieve my heart and bring me to my knees, but they also drive my hands towards you and your loved ones with an outreach of compassion. I may not be able to heal the heartache and resolve the problems that bring our loved ones to the point of taking their lives, but please humbly allow me to offer hope to those who are struggling with these thoughts. Allow me to present three reasons why suicide is not the answer to your hurt.
Taking your own life is permanent and irreversible.
The mental health experts seem to agree on this one. However, according to the Bible, in Ecclesiastes 3:4, there is a time for everything, both pain and joy. I would like for you to consider the idea that the pain you are experiencing has its place in your life, but so does joy. There will be a time for joy in your life. Ending your life in the middle of pain causes you to miss out on that joy. I cannot speak to your specific situation, but I know this, a permanent solution to a non-permanent problem is not the answer. There is another choice.
Emotions greatly influence life’s decisions.
The second reason to reconsider this decision hinges on the back of the first. Emotions are powerful motivators in our lives, and emotions are influenced by our biology, psychology, physical surroundings, and so much more. You have probably experienced happiness as the result of being around happy people, or sadness as the result of being in a sad environment. While emotions help us to process our experiences, we must be careful to not allow them to rule our decisions. This second reason I present to you to reconsider taking your own life is because this decision may be driven by emotions. Feelings come and go, but you have only one life. One thing that has helped me when dealing with heavy emotions is to share them with another person. By sharing, you lighten the load on your shoulders. Perhaps the person that you share with will be able to lift your spirits.
God intends for you to live.
This leads us to the third reason. God intends for you to LIVE! You were born to share life with those around you and to experience the array of blessings and trials that life has to offer with the companionship of people who love you and who you love in return. However, all of that living begins with God. God created you to live, but he doesn’t want His relationship with you to end at creation. He wants to live life WITH you. He wants to be the one you tell your sorrows to and share your joys with. He not only wants to be there for you, He wants to give you meaning and reason to live. He wants to be your Savior!
When you feel like life is not worth living, He wants to give you a reason to live.
Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) This relationship is so often the key factor missing in people’s lives that leads them to ending their own life. The facts are simple. God created you, and God loves you! He said so Himself – multiple times in the Bible, like in John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God wants you to invest your life here on earth in a close relationship with Him. This is the kind of relationship where you talk to Him (pray), worship Him, and live with the purpose that He gives you. God loves you so much that He not only wants to share your entire life with you, but He also wants to spend all of eternity with you. This is a game changer; it opens a whole new side of life that you may, up to this point, have never experienced. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (I John 5:11)
May I encourage you to start with picking up a Bible and reading John 3:16 and discover the many recorded promises of God’s love. Start reading, and keep on reading. Learn of God’s plan for your life. You have a purpose to live. You have been destined to love, to laugh, to grow, and to be the person God created you to be. When your world seems confusing, please remember that Someone cares. I have personally experienced this care in knowing my Savior, Jesus Christ. His salvation includes the ability and power to break free from negative feelings that can seem so overwhelming at times. Friend, there IS hope for all of us with God. Please talk to someone. Share your thoughts with a family member, or someone you respect and trust. Let someone know what you are dealing with.
We also want to be an encouragement to you. I encourage you to listen to the stories from those of us living in our native communities and sharing our stories of hope. Please give your life a chance. I want you to! God wants you to! Your life deserves this. You are worth it!
Byron Sarracino is from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico where he currently resides and serves as pastor in his local church. He and Tricia have five children. His story of growing up on the reservation and finding hope while serving in the Armed Forces is one of several stories touching lives through the Native Voices Project (click here to watch his story).