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Suicide In The Bahamas

EDITOR, The Tribune. IT NOW appears that a very disturbing trend is developing in this country. I have noticed that more and more troubled Bahamians are resorting to suicide. It appears that these persons who have chosen to take their own lives were at their wits' end. Life had thrown them an unexpected curve ball. Perhaps they were depressed over a job loss or a failed relationship. Or perhaps the creditors were harassing them every day or their homes were in the process of being foreclosed. As far as they were concerned, life had failed them. It could be any number of reasons that had caused them to do the unthinkable. What is even more disturbing is the fact that these persons who have taken their lives have families. Can you imagine finding your loved one dead in his/her bedroom? I cannot even begin to imagine the grief that these family members feel. Yet this is happening today in our Bahamas. According to Bible theologian Dr R C Sproul, it is possible that suicide is an act of pure unbelief in God, a succumbing to total despair that indicates the absence of any faith in God. Dr Sproul further postulated that suicide may also be the sign of temporary or prolonged mental illness. It may result from a sudden wave of severe depression. It is not surprising that many today are deeply troubled by the financial situation in the country. My brother had counseled a young lady from West Grand Bahama who was contemplating suicide. Her mom had lost her job and her father had virtually abandoned the family. And to make matters worse, her mother had fallen behind on the rent payments and the electricity had been turned off by the power company. The only income that was coming into the home was her meager salary from her food store job. I am certain that her story isn't unique at all. A police officer told me that there were scores of attempted suicides either last year or in 2010. There are many Bahamians today who find themselves having to accept a lower standard of living. Obviously, they had become accustomed to living in financial prosperity. But the bottom has fallen out on them. This has taken a tremendous toll on the psyche of these struggling Bahamians. Let me state at this juncture that I believe God is using this devastating global recession to speak to the Bahamian people and indeed the entire Western World. We seem to have forgotten the wise saying of Job, that man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. Human suffering is an ever-present reality in today's world. Pain is God's megaphone to a spiritually insensitive people. According to C S Lewis, "everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We 'have all we want' is a terrible saying when ''all' does not include God". I am certain that many Bahamians, including the grieving family members of those who had committed suicide, are wondering what will happen to their love ones at the judgment. That thought has crossed my mind every time I hear of another alleged suicide. Let me first state that at least six persons in the Bible had committed suicide: Abimelech, King Saul and his armour bearer; Ahithophel, Judas Iscariot and Samson all took their own lives. Interestingly, the Bible says in First Samuel 28 that King Saul would join the dead Prophet Samuel in paradise (the abode of the righteous dead) after his demise in the battle with the pagan Philistines. After seeing that the battle had been lost and that his sons, Jonathan, Melchishua and Abinadab had all been killed, the apostate king took his own life on Mount Gilboa, according to First Samuel 31. He knew that had the Philistines captured him, they would have tortured him. With respect to Samson; he perished along with some 3,000 Philistines after causing the temple of Dagon to collapse on himself and his enemies. According to Judges 16, Samson prayed to God for supernatural strength in order to defeat Israel's enemies and God answered his prayer. He is included in the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. This is ironclad evidence that Samson is in heaven. God could have spared Samson's life, but He allowed him to die. While this may be little consolation to the families of suicide victims, suicide is nowhere identified as an unforgivable sin. If God had mercy on His servant Samson, then maybe, just maybe He will have mercy on several others who took their own life. Of course, I am not condoning persons who commit suicide. As far as I am concerned, suicide is the murder of oneself (read Exodus 20:13). A person who commits suicide is not only shortchanging his family members, friends and his country, he is also shortchanging God who created him/her. It is solely God's prerogative to determine when a person should die, not the individual who is contemplating suicide. After all, He is the Creator and Sustainer of life. When you kill yourself you are saying to God that you are the lord of your own life. And as I mentioned already, that is an act of unbelief in God. Unbelief is sin. Depressed Bahamians who are suicidal need to stop wallowing in their grief and self pity and turn to the One whom Paul calls the God of all comfort (read second Corinthians 1:3-7). Suicide is also a selfish act. Those who are thinking about taking their own life need to think about their family members who they will no doubt devastate by their self-centred action. Every time I think about this disturbing subject my mind immediately goes on the noted American novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). Hemingway shot himself to death after suffering from severe bouts of depression. Amazingly, his father, sister and brother all committed suicide. Clearly, Hemingway was a man who was devoid of true inner peace and happiness that only God can give. The same thing could be said of every Bahamian who has committed suicide. It was the Catholic philosopher and French mathematician Blaise Pascal who said in his Pensees that there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, made known through Jesus. Augustine said in his Confessions that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. In closing, I would like to say to the families of those persons who have taken their lives that God knows exactly what they are going through. As the righteous Judge, He will do that which is right on Judgment Day. As Dr Sproul pointed out, God will take all mitigating circumstances into account when He renders His judgment on any person. None of us knows what a person was thinking the moment they took their life. In the final analysis, eternal judgment is reserved for God alone. None of us is in the position to say where a suicide victim will spend eternity. But if we know of anyone who is suicidal, we must encourage them to seek spiritual and professional help. KEVIN EVANS Freeport, Grand Bahama, February 5, 2012.

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