Summary: This is suicide prevention week. This message is to give you help if you have thoughts of suicide and ways you can help others who may have those thoughts.
“Thoughts of Suicide”
September 15, 2019
“Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” his servant ran him through, and he died. When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.”
“When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.”
This past week was suicide prevention week, a mega church pastor in Southern California killed himself, the Minnesota legislators are considering a bill for assisted suicide, AND it was the anniversary of 911, where a series of four coordinated suicide terrorist attacks, by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda, against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. Additional people have died of 9/11-related cancer and respiratory diseases in the months and years following the attacks. It was one of the most successful suicide attack in history. The Bible records Samson as killing 3000 when he brought the temple down around himself and the people, but 911 was very close to that number.
Suicide attacks are fairly common in war. Often the soldier is called a hero. In World War Two, the Japanese Kamikaze pilots were held in great honor. The war was ending, ammunition was low and this was the biggest bang they could get for their buck – literally. Jesus said there is no greater expression of love than giving your life for someone else. (John 15:13)
There are seven clear examples of suicide in the Bible: Abimelech, mortally wounded by a millstone, ordered his armor-bearer to kill him to avoid the suggestion he had been slain by the woman who had thrown the stone (which we just read); the prophet Ahithophel hanged himself after betraying David (2Sam 17:23); Zimri burned down his house around himself after military defeat (1Kgs 16:18); and the more familiar stories of Saul and his armor-bearer (1Sam 1:1-6; 1Chr 10:1-6), Samson, (Judg 16:28), and, of course, Jesus’ disciple Judas— (Matt 27:3-5; Acts 1:18).
Suicide in the ancient world did not carry the same negative connotations as it does today. For Greco-Roman philosophers, suicide in correct circumstances constituted a “noble death.” Socrates (469-399 B.C.E.) chose to drink hemlock rather than endure exile, a choice enthusiastically endorsed by most of the philosophical schools at the time. If carried out for country or friends, or in the face of intolerable pain, incurable disease, devastating misfortune or shame, or to avoid capture on the battlefield, suicide constituted a noble death. Each of the instances of suicide found in the Bible fits with noble-death ideals.
Having said that, in my experience, suicide is not noble. It is ugly, selfish and hurtful. I have worked for 3 funeral homes in my past, been a police chaplain for over twenty years and a pastor for 40 years and have seen first-hand the devastation suicide leaves in its wake. I have seen broken bodies and bloody scenes first hand. I have heard the wailing and sobbing of survivors and the trauma that scars a soul for life. There is nothing noble about suicide.
Unfortunately, suicided is on the rise. A number a years ago it was common for teenagers to make suicide pacts. It was almost an epidemic.
Ozzy Osborne wrote a song called “Suicide Solution”.
Wine is fine but whiskey's quicker, Suicide is slow with liquor
Take a bottle and drown your sorrows, Then it floods away tomorrows, Away tomorrows
Evil thoughts and evil doings, Cold, alone you hang in ruins
Thought that you'd escape the reaper, You can't escape the master keeper
'Cause you feel life's unreal, and you're living a lie, Such a shame who's to blame and you're wondering why
Then you ask from your cask is there life after birth, What you sow can mean hell on this earth, Hell on this earth
Now you live inside a bottle, The reaper's traveling at full throttle
It's catching you but you don't see, The reaper is you and the reaper is me
Breaking laws, knocking doors, But there's no one at home