When I was in high school I didn’t know anyone who attempted suicide.
In over twenty years of pastoral ministry I have probably dealt with attempted suicides a dozen times. I have had people attempt to end their lives at youth camp and even on mission trips. Again, thankfully, no one has been successful.
Years ago, a young man in my church will killed in a single car accident. His family was convinced it was suicide, but there is no one of knowing for sure.
I don’t understand mental illness.
I don’t understand what causes a person to think the only answer is to end it all.
But I do know mental illness is real.
And I am afraid the number of people who suffer from this disease and the number of people who will attempt suicide will only increase.
I pray I am wrong.
Over the last several months, for different reasons and for different people, I have had had to visit a local, in-patient, psychiatric hospital. On one recent visit, an orderly rode down the elevator with me. While together she asked me if I was visiting a family member. I explained I was a pastor and was visiting a church member. She sounded surprised and then commented with a hint of sadness, “You know, very few pastors ever visit anyone in this hospital. Thank you.”
I wonder why that is?
I don’t know the answer.
I do believe Jesus deeply cares for those suffering with depression and other mental issues. I do believe He wants them to be healed. I also believe He uses others in the healing process and so we, as pastors, are missing out on a huge opportunity to see Jesus work when we avoid getting involved in this issue.
What do you think?