Summary: The suicide of Judas is the only case of suicide in the New Testament. This message looks at what we can learn from that event as we deal with those who take their own lives.
When I was a teenager one of my favourite television shows was MASH, and Angela and I have just started from the beginning and are watching it all over again. And if you are familiar with the TV show or the movie than you are familiar with the theme song, which is called Suicide is Painless.
If you’ve only seen the TV show, then you might not have known what the song was called or what the lyrics were. The song opens with these words:
Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please
So just a couple of facts about the song. Robert Altman, the director of the movie, wanted a song for a specific part of the movie, and said he wanted it to be the stupidest song every.
Johnny Mandel was going to write the music, and Altman was going to write the lyrics. It just didn’t work. In an interview, Mandel told how Altman had been struggling with the lyrics and what the turning point was, “Bob said, ‘Ah, but all is not lost. I’ve got a 15-year-old kid who’s a gibbering idiot. He’s got a guitar. He’ll run through this thing like a dose of salts,’ So, Michael Altman, at age 15, wrote the lyrics, and then I wrote the music to them,”
Altman would later comment that he made $70,000.00 for directing the film and his son, the gibbering idiot with the guitar, made well over $1,000,000.00 in royalties for the song. That figure is well over the $2,000,000.00 mark now.
But regardless of what the song may say, suicide is not painless. Not for the person who chooses to take their own life and certainly not for those they leave behind.
Author, Jeannette Walls, writes “When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind.”
This is week eight of our Mental Health Series at Cornerstone. Back in February the preaching team, that would be myself, Pastor Rob, Pastor Deborah and Pastor Stefan, decided that with all that has been going on with the Pandemic and the turmoil it’s been causing in people’s lives, that mental health would be an appropriate post Easter Topic.
Over the past seven weeks we’ve dealt with depression, narcissism, renewing our minds, fear, anxiety, worry and OCD. I’m finishing up the series this week by looking at the topic of suicide. And we are going to look at suicide from both sides of the coin, so to speak. We are going to look at what leads to suicide but also suicide guilt. What happens when you’ve been left behind?
I officiated my first funeral for a victim of suicide when I was 28 years old. The gentleman had been brought up in the church, had drifted from the church through his adult life and had just recently started attending again.
His family was very adamant that there be no hint of suicide at the funeral. As a matter of fact, they wanted me to imply that he died of a heart attack and not of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I said I couldn’t lie, and that was the last funeral they asked me to perform for their family.
Now, I didn’t tell people he committed suicide, but I didn’t say he had a heart attack. I spoke about God’s grace and suggested that we would need to show grace when thinking of the dearly departed.
Seven years later, the first funeral that I conducted at Cornerstone in 1995 was for someone who had taken their own life. I had never met the lady, but her father had attended our first few services. And unfortunately that wasn’t the last funeral service I’ve performed for someone who made that decision.
I’m sure that most of us have known someone, either in your family or in your circle of friends, who has made the decision to end their life.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is a psychiatric teaching hospital in Toronto, and they say this about suicide: Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, and is often related to complex stressors and health issues. Suicide occurs across all ages, incomes, ethnicities and social factors.
It goes on to say, “Most often, people experience suicidal thoughts when they have lost hope and feel helpless. They want their pain to end, and they may see no other way out. Suicide can also be an impulsive act that follows the use of substances. In some cases, people with psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia may hear voices that tell them to harm themselves.”