September marks National Suicide Prevention Month when Americans are reminded of the challenge we share in dealing with this terrible threat and its devastating loss to individuals, families, and whole communities. As a member of the clergy, I have intervened in situations where people have contemplated taking their own lives, and I have consoled survivors. I also observed members of my own family affected personally by the suicide of a relative.
The increased awareness and public conversation about suicide is a much-needed development.
What many people miss in the discussion, though, is the fact that half of the lives ended this way each year involves a firearm. The use of a gun in a suicide increases the likelihood of death astronomically. When a gun is present, men who are experiencing suicidal thoughts are far more likely to take their own lives.
Mental illness, depression, and despair coupled with a gun must be taken seriously. Many mental health, family, and law enforcement groups have advocated for ERPOs or Emergency Risk Protective Orders, which allow judges to order firearms not to be in close proximity to those who may pose a threat to themselves because of a mental or emotional problem. This makes sense.
Everyone should care about the dangers of suicide regardless of the circumstances. For those who, like me, believe strongly in the inherent value of every human life, temporarily removing powerfully lethal weapons from those who pose a threat to themselves simply makes sense. As a Christian and a minister, I believe we should do everything we can to help people survive their lowest moments in life. As a pro-life activist who has for decades advocated for a culture of life, I believe public policy should protect the most vulnerable from death—including death by one’s own hand.
One of our longtime partners at Faith & Action, Pastor J. Bruce Sofia, has written a book about this difficult subject. Hope Beyond Suicide is a book you should read (or at least have on your shelf) to have knowledge and compassion if such a crisis should occur with someone you know.
Please join Faith & Action’s ministry team in praying for all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts and for those friends and family members who have lost a loved one through the act of suicide. May the Lord encourage and strengthen all who have or are dealing with this difficult and agonizing situation.
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