The following is another excerpt from my book, Effortless Grace. Please feel free to criticize. I look forward to the help you will offer. Thank you.
Once every two seconds, someone, somewhere in this world, attempts to end their life. Once every forty seconds, someone succeeds.
Imagine the despair, the loneliness, the tears, the crushed hopes in the waning moments before the attempt. Imagine the utter hopelessness. This is a life without grace.
Even for followers of Christ, a graceless life can be a possibility. But for those who do not know Jesus, a graceless life is not just a possibility, it is a reality. A person without grace, or one who has forgotten grace, teeters on the edge of losing hope. Little by little, as the tension between performance and acceptance mounts, hope trickles out.
Currently in this world, suicide is the number three leading cause of death for those of both sexes aged between 15 – 44. The NUMBER THREE CAUSE! Since 1960, suicide rates have risen by 60%. To put that number in perspective, a country with a population of ten million people, in 1960, would have had 10,000 suicides in. In 2004, they will have approximately 16,000, in the same ten million person population segment.
It is estimated that there will be over one million suicide deaths worldwide in 2004. There will be approximately 20 million attempts. Lets put a face on that. Approximately one person in every three hundred and twelve will attempt to take their life this year. Now take a look inside of your church. How many people will attempt to end their life in your church this year?
What can we do about that? Do we walk away, shrugging our shoulders? Do we frown, and click our tongue at the weakness? Do we want to help, but since we don’t know how, we do nothing?
One person every forty seconds is going to die by their own hand this year, and there is a good chance they will not know Jesus when they do. But if they do, how do we explain the hopelessness? Do we write it off in a judgmental tone, and merely believe they never REALLY knew Jesus? Or do we begin to understand that hopelessness does not belong to the lost alone?
One in three hundred and twelve. You WILL know someone who attempts suicide this year. You may not hear about it, but you’ll know the person who tried to end their life.
Grace will go a long way in giving hope back to someone who has lost it. A person without hope cannot live long. Feelings of hopelessness are far more predictive of suicidal risk than clinical diagnoses of depression. That means there is a way we can hear someone’s call for help.
But, must it get to the level of the danger of someone’s call for help? Can we do something beforehand? Yes, we can offer everyone we meet the same grace we have received from God, the grace that builds communities, and restores relationships.
Suicide can be caused by many different factors, amongst them depression, drug or alcohol abuse, job loss, loss of a loved one, expectancy of trauma, and the list goes on. Suicide has many causes, but only one cure, grace. Only grace can heal the broken heart, only grace can restore hope. Sure, a psychologist can be a tool of grace, but we can be tools as well.
All of the people who will attempt suicide this year will have one thing in common. They will not be able to cope any longer, they will have reached the limits of their strength, whether it be hope, health, or mental capacity. They will all feel as if they have no other alternative. In a world full of believers, in a world where the body of Christ is alive, that ought not to be. In most cases, lending an ear, some time, or some compassion is all it will take to stop the downward spiral toward suicide.
One in three hundred and twelve. You WILL know someone who attempts suicide this year. In the past ten years, I have lost two friends to suicide. I don’t want to lose any more, regardless of whether they know Jesus or not. I will make it a point to extend grace to every one I meet, each day.