If you are a Christian who is thinking about committing suicide, that does not mean your faith is empty. Suicidal thoughts are not a sign of weak faith, but can be means of realizing stronger faith. It means you might have to work twice as hard just get out of bed in the morning, only for you to collapse on the floor in that pile of dirty laundry from a week ago. Maybe God feels absent, and you feel like giving up. So you go into child’s pose and open your hands to Jesus, pleading for his mercy to cover you and the Holy Spirit to fill you with life. If this is you, remember the way that Jesus would treat people with grace and love in the midst of their various forms of weakness, inviting them to bring their weary souls to him. Faith in God for you is twice the battle it is for others.
Most of the articles about Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, while well-intentioned, focus on their work and accomplishments. They were certainly both talented, entertaining public figures who were loved by their fans, but this focus on their work demonstrates a cultural problem: an individual’s value is in what they can do and not primarily in their personhood.
Around same time the news about Spade and Bourdain’s suicides was released to the public, the CBC posted an article about mental health and suicide in North America. Likely the most disturbing statistic in this article comes from a CDC report that says approximately 45,000 Americans are known to have taken their lives in 2016. For 54% of these deaths, there were no known pre-existing mental health conditions. There could be lots of reasons for this correlation, such as the fear and shame about opening up about a diagnosis or increased rates of suicide for the middle-aged. The point of the article is that the issue of suicide does not correlate clearly with status or mental health, as some op-ed pieces have argued
It’s worth thinking as Christians about how our society values a human life because our faith has profound implications for people who are struggling to see the value of their life. As our culture wrestles with the fundamental quest for meaning in life, we need to situate ourselves in the hope that only the gospel can give us. Our lives don’t have meaning due to any work that we do, but the redemptive work of Christ to heal us and make us whole persons.
Loss is painful, but it reminds us that each individual is part of a complex network of relationships, and their absence does not go unnoticed. This is not meant to make people feel guilty or ashamed, but to encourage anyone thinking about suicide that they are deeply loved and wanted by their friends and family.
If you are part of someone’s life, you are connected to them. The highest good of an individual is not their work, but their irrevocable rootedness in community – particularly a community that values people as made in the image of God, seeks their personal salvation in Christ and flourishing in daily life.