How to Deal with Suicidal Persons
A. What Brings Suicidal Thoughts?
1. Despair or a total lack of hope! When a person is caught in the midst of a problem that they feel has no solution, they naturally lose hope. When they continue to struggle with what they perceive as a problem with no solution, many people come to a place of complete despair. Thoughts of suicide are a natural result. The key to understanding someone who is thinking of suicide is that they see their problem as an, either or situation. Either they go on in hopelessness or they commit suicide. They see no other answer or possible solution. Notice, Judas saw no remedy for the guilt of betraying Christ. (Matt. 27:3-5) Job saw no relief for the physical misery he was enduring (Job 3:20-21). Solomon hated life because he saw no purpose in living (Ecc. 2:17). The keeper of the prison felt he would be put to death if his prisoners escaped (Acts 16:25-30).
2. Another cause of suicidal thoughts is anger. This can be toward anyone for any reason. Jonah wanted to die because he was angry at God for His mercy toward the people of Ninevah (Jonah 4:1-9). He was also angry at the Ninevahites because of their wickedness. Samson's desire to take revenge on the Philistines motivated him to take his own life along with theirs (Judges 16:27-31). Many times people will commit suicide to get back at someone they are angry with, in an attempt to hurt them. Other times, people who are angry at themselves for their own failures will take their life, in an attempt to punish themselves for their sin. This is a possible reason for Judas hanging himself (Matt. 27:3-5)
B. Scriptures That Prohibit Suicide!
1. The prohibition against murder (Exodus 20:13). Suicide is self-murder!
2. Jesus came to save life and to do good, not to see a person kill or destroy their life (Mark 3:4). This would be contrary to the eternal purpose of God for their life (Eph. 2:10).
3. Suicide is contrary to faith which fights and overcomes the pressures and temptations of the world (1 Tim. 6:12) (2 Tim. 4:7-8) (1 John 5:4).
4. For a person to commit suicide is to destroy something that doesn't belong to them. Their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and belongs to God. To destroy it is to destroy something that belongs only to Him (Ezek. 18:4) (1 Cor. 6:19-20) (Eph. 1:14). God alone has the right to give or take away life. Job recognized this right in Job 1:22.
5. Peter tells the Philippian jailer who is about to commit suicide, "Do yourself no harm!' (Acts 16:27,28)
C. What Do You Say And Do With Someone Considering Suicide?
1. First, take everyone seriously who threatens suicide! Sometimes people think, "Oh they're only trying to get attention". This is a common misconception.
2. Acknowledge to them you can see their problem is a serious one. This enables them to feel someone really understands and is listening. This begins to give them hope. Don't minimize their problems, this creates the opposite effect.
3. Have them explain fully why they are considering suicide, listen carefully and take notes if possible.
4. Remember they feel they are caught in an either or situation where they see no solution.
5. Explain to them there is another solution that they haven't seen yet. God's solution! With every problem or trial God always provides a way out or the grace to sustain them (1 Cor. 10:13) (2 Cor. 12:9).
6. Minister hope by sharing God's plan for them. If they aren't a Christian, explain the plan of salvation. God will forgive all their sin and make them a new creature in Him (1 John 1:9) (2 Cor. 5:17). If they are a Christian, remind them of the power of God, that all things are possible with Him (Matt. 19:26). That His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9), His mercy to forgive, His plan that is fore-ordained (Eph. 2:10) and any other verses that focus their attention back on God's ability and love.
7. Seek to resolve any anger they may have toward God, others or themselves!
8. If someone is drunk or high on drugs and they call you, this is not the time to counsel them. All you can do at this point is to keep them from doing something rash.
9. Avoid all argument if a person is on drugs or is intoxicated. Just get the person to put the gun or knife down, or throw the pills away. Get them indirectly to do this by getting them to write down their problems, or make coffee etc.. Then tell them, "I am coming over, can we talk more then?".
10. Get them to talk with someone else while you go over to the house, so despair doesn't overtake them. Possibly, call the police to meet you there so they can disarm them. You don't want to walk into the house alone with someone who is drunk, distraught and holding a gun in their hand. They could do anything!
11. If a person asks you, "Will God forgive me and accept me into His kingdom if I kill myself?". If you say yes, some might go right ahead and kill themselves. The safest response is to not give them an answer. Tell them the Scripture gives no such assurance. Remember, we can only speak where the Scripture specifically speaks (1 Pet. 4:11). Then concentrate on what Jesus did say. His desire to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). That He came to give abundant life (John 10:10). Encourage them, that if they will allow you to counsel them, you can help them solve their problems in a Biblical way. It is the Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Luke 12:32).
12. Last, make sure you have their name, address and phone number somewhere in the conversation. Try to do this in a way that will not alarm them, This will enable you to follow-up on them or take emergency action if necessary.