The Pain of Suicide

Why does suicide hurt so much? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I knew Troy in Middle School. He was shy, like me, and seemed to be an outsider to most kids, like me, which is probably one reason I gravitated towards him. I knew what it felt like to be rejected after all. I remember him wanting to buy my Turtle Blimp from me, which I let him, and it was like Christmas for him. I knew he didn’t have much. We drifted apart in high school. Recently I thought of him. I wondered where he was in the world.

Then today I got a text from my Dad. Troy had killed himself Sunday.

In the midst of messages back and forth about it, my Dad told me one of his friends from church had also died. Now I didn’t know this friend so well, and that really got lost in the background. With my Dad’s friend, I thought he was older and it was probably his time.

Not with Troy.

With Troy, I found myself wondering, “What if I had stayed in touch in high school and college? What if I had been a friend all those years? What if I had never lost touch with him?”

Yes. Rethinking about 20-25 years of living based on one truth that had been revealed. That’s what makes suicide so different. When it happens, most people who knew the person involved always think “Could I have done something to help?”

It’s survivor’s guilt. It’s pointless to think such things. Even if you could think of something you could do, you can’t hop in the time machine and go back and do them. If you come up with something, you’ll just feel guilty for not having done it.

Yet we do that. Why? Because we have a permanent pain now because of the loss. I have met a number of people who have lost someone close to them to suicide and the pain doesn’t go away. Oh it gets more manageable, but it does become something they deal with everyday. I have heard of a man in his senior years whose father committed suicide. The suicide happened while the boy was five years old and years later he still asks why his Dad didn’t want him.

You see, it never truly takes the pain away. It passes it to everyone else. It is what is seen as a preventable death. If only we could have helped them. If only. If only we had been there. If only we knew. Did we miss the warning signs?

My wife had a friend who went out of her mind and wound up killing herself a few years ago and for quite awhile, she kept wondering if she should have seen the signs. She wasn’t there in person though, so there’s no way she could have known really. We have no way of knowing how everyone else sees it though who was even closer.

In many other cases, when the person is still around, we can talk to them always and see if we can work on things. However, when it’s suicide, it’s permanent. That’s it. We lose them in our earthly lives forever.

Now if we’re Christians, we can anticipate the hope that we will see them someday, but Scripture doesn’t say that death becomes automatically less painful because we’re Christians. We still mourn. We don’t mourn like those who have no hope, but we mourn. Suicide just brings an extra level to that mourning since it is such a violent action that is always seen as preventable.

While I was out, I was spending so much time processing the news and that was for someone I hadn’t interacted with in a couple of decades. How much more is it for those who know someone much closer? Suicide has that effect and it’s an awful one.

If you’re struggling, please get help. Please. Reach out. People do care regardless of whether you feel like they do or not. Call the National Suicide Hotline. Get someone who will talk to you. Please.

If not for yourself, do it for someone you care about. If you suspect someone is suicidal, please don’t take a chance. Take action.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)