Suicide has long been seen by the hopeless as the final escape. The pain of old age, often combined with loneliness brings the ultimate despair, making the over-65 age group the one with the highest suicide rate.
Every year there are more suicides than homicides making it the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S. In the past 30 years, suicides by teens has tripled and is now the third most common cause of death in 15 to 24 year-olds. Only accidents and murder take a higher toll. In 1992 more teenagers and young adults died from suicide than died from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.
White men account for 73% of suicides. Divorced or widowed men are three times as likely to do it than married men and 17 times more likely than married women.
In an average day, 84 people die from suicide and approximately 1900 adults attempt it. There are no national records of attempted suicides but studies indicate that somewhere between 25 and 100 attempt suicide for every one who succeeds.
Men are three to five times more likely to complete suicide than women but three times more women attempt it than men. The reason men more often succeed is that they usually pick a more lethal method, most often a gun. Hanging is the second most common method.
Scientific studies do not usually include the spiritual aspect but the list of psychological and social causes indicate a high sin factor.
Alcohol and drugs are involved in almost all suicides as well as some form of "mental disorder."
Suicide is the most frequent cause of death in U.S. jails. A high rate of 90 to 230 per 100,000 population commit suicide in jail or prison. That is 16 times the rate for the general population.
Since every person's circumstance is different, the reasons are equally varied. Loss of hope, for whatever reason, is the primary path to suicide. The Apostle Paul declared us the "most miserable" if we had no reason to hope for eternal life.
As we care for each other, in our families and our churches, we must be sensitive to any sign of lost hope. Research indicates certain factors to look for in the suicidal person.
An obvious one is a prior failed try. Unless serious changes are made in the person's spiritual perspective, there is a good chance they will try it again. Since alcohol and drugs are factors in over half the suicides, the addict must also be watched closely and as soon as possible led to forgiveness, hope and freedom in Christ.
In Jack Chick's tract No Fear?, he highlights two primary misconceptions: that suicide will solve all your problems, and that hell is a party where all your friends will be. The tract is designed to warn teens that these are lies.
With the rising rate of teen suicide, it is essential that these lies be exposed. Kids in schools and neighborhoods where this tract is widely read will surely think twice before considering suicide as an option. And who knows, the Lord might direct it into the hands of an oldster who has given up. The message is the same for everyone: "There is hope in Jesus."