From Paul’s Pen

            Thursday, September 1, marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Month. Boston Children’s Hospital has this staggering statement on its web site about suicide in children and teens: “Among children between the ages of 15 and 19, suicide is the second leading cause of death, and the leading cause of death for 14- to 15-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” According to the VA, the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times the rate of non-veteran adults. Depression and suicide are real problems in today’s world. And most of us are ill-equipped to confront these issues.

            Depression and suicidal thoughts have been around almost from the beginning of civilization. The prophet Elijah – undoubtedly a great man of God – provides a great case study for Bible students (1 Kings 19:1-18). To attribute such thoughts and behavior to a lack of faith is very naïve. Most of us need some help and encouragement to weather life’s storms.

            If you have a smart phone, please download an app dealing with suicide prevention and help just in case you ever need it. Three such apps are: A Friend Asks; SPA (Suicide Prevention App); and SAMHSA. All have the 24/7 phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255. You can always dial 911 in an emergency, but 988 is the new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number. Hopefully, none of us will ever need this help line, but if we do, these are the experts!

            As you read through the gospels, notice how often Jesus took care of someone’s mental or physical problems before expecting them to follow Him. For example, consider the demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39 or the four thousand He fed in Matthew 15:32-39. Seeking help when needed is a sign of wisdom – not weakness!