Thoughts on Suicide and Choice

Robin Williams actions have caused a lot of controversial discussion. The issue of suicide has taken center stage, and I have to say I have for the most part been embarrassed by all sides of the discussion. Those who take to lightly the struggles of depression have shown ignorance, and those rebuking them show equal ignorance in failing to suggest any real solution to the problem outside of telling other people they are wrong. I just felt compelled to share some of my own thoughts about suicide based off all the discussion going on.

1. It’s Not Romantic
I’ve grown frustrated over this one. Suicide does not need help in being put into a positive light. Quickly after news of Robin Williams I saw the plethora of regularly quote lines from his films. The one I saw as a top tier was from Hook. “To die would be a great adventure.” Could you take a lesson more out of context form a film then in that moment. What happened to his end quote of the film? “To live would be a great adventure.” The adventure stops at death. Suicide robs you of a truly grand adventure. It’s an adventure where you can share your joy and passion to future generations. It’s an adventure where you can enjoy the companionship of loved ones. There was nothing grand about the suicide. There was nothing magical or romantic. It was tragic. We try and romanticize tragedy as something grand, but the truth is trying to make it look like a rose of thorns insults those who simply need to grieve and express the pain and anguish. The plethora of people who quoted this line over the past few days seemed to show nothing of ignorance, which bring me to..

2. Ignorant People Speak Quickly“It was his choice” or “He had no choice” seem to be the two outrageously spoken statements on the issue. Both screaming responses fail to pick up on the complexity and nuances of depression and suicide. In a desperate attempt to outdo the other they leave those still in pain by the wayside. I’m not going to go into to much of the topic of whether or not someone truly depressed has a choice in suicide, because frankly I am not an expert just like every single person I have seen speak on the subject so far. What I do know is this, many people have been tempted to commit suicide and have chosen not to due to see small acts of compassion in this world. What made a key difference over the act of suicide outside of need medication was someone else making a different kind of choice. The kind of choice that says, “I am going to make a point to be a blessing to someone today.” Those who say Robin Williams had no choice fail to understand the complexity just as those who say it was only his choice. There is hope. That is what we should really be shouting out in this issue isn’t it? Robin reached a point where he believed all hope was gone. His story is now ended as a cautionary one. Stop screaming about the “why”, and start acting on the “what now.”

3. It Can Happen to Anyone
It doesn’t take much to get someone depressed. It really doesn’t. There is enough evil in this world to make people discouraged. That sounds depressing. We can choose to counteract that though. Robin Williams was a man with success. What then about those who are in true despair over lfie situations? What are we doing to reach out to them? How are we making a difference? I work a job where it is rare to be thanked. My work is in a season where I deal with angry hateful people, more discouragingly I deal with angry and hateful Christians. During a particularly discouraging day I helped one person who later emailed me to thank me for my help, and to tell me how encouraged he was by my conversation with him. He was also very discouraged. I made a choice not to live in the despair for a single moment, and show compassion to someone. In that process that man made an equal decision to reach out and show compassion and encouragement to me. Why in the world are we not talking about this more? Stop talking about what Robin Williams choice was. YOU have a choice! A choice to make change. What will you decide?

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What Are You For?

I’ve been absent on this blog for a while. It has been due to a variety of reasons. One is that school has picked back up for me taking away much of my time. Work has been another. Time with family has also been important (My wife and I are now expecting our second child!) There has also been another reason that will briefly be explained later in this post.

My wife and I have been doing a lot of visiting and traveling lately. In the midst of these travels we recently visited the church I grew up in for a very special occasion. There is an older couple in that church that we know very well. They were celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. 70 years of marriage. That’s almost unheard of today.

We went to the church that morning because the church as a whole was celebrating this milestone. The church wanted to celebrate this special event. The act spoke volumes to me. It was a profound realization I had when I heard what they were doing, and jumped out to me as a stark contrast to how we so often are in this world today. That celebration was a statement by my church. They were for something.

It was more of the same old same old noise about what we need to be standing against in our culture. It was not a sermon about what business or movie we are supposed to be boycotting to show people that we have different morals. It was just a fun celebration that was acknowledging a victory over something that was cared about.

Christians say they are for marriage, but there regularly discussion seems to suggest that they show that by talking about how horrible the culture is due to divorce and premarital liv8ing arrangements. They are so good out pointing out how all of these people are doing it wrong. This is not to say that there is never a time or place for that, but it gets old after a while. They are better known for being against divorce and premarital sex rather than being for marriage, and that’s a problem.

We may not recognize the difference much at first, but over time it begins to get clearer. People who are against something need to keep finding things to be against in order to satisfy that drive. It is how we get arguments surrounding petty theology, worship style, and even the color of the carpet. The one who fights against something is never able to be truly satisfied. Being against is a job for the “world.” Christ said the world would be against him. He didn’t respond by being against the world.

Christ came for a purpose. He wasn’t simply fighting against something. He was fighting for something. There is such a powerful difference in that. Christ was fighting for us. He was fighting for freedom from sin. He was fighting for our salvation. It drove him differently. Christ did not stay on the cross because he was fighting against those who hung them there. He stayed on that cross because he was fighting for them.

Here is the really big thing. When we fight for something we celebrate and point out those victories. That church celebrating 70 years of marriage by that couple was a glimmer of hope and light in the midst of this world so many people want to be against. It went a step forward of just pointing at the world telling it what it was doing wrong, and instead pointed at an example of a better path to follow. A path that is more satisfying and worthy of consideration.

This post may seem unsatisfactory of thoughts on this subject, and that is because it is. Many of the thoughts are still jumbled in my own head, and fighting to break out in a clear and coherent way. That has been the final reason for my absence lately. I have been working on something a ltitle different. It is more than just a blog post. It is my first real writing project. I will be continuing to keep everyone updated, and I will make sure to keep posting normal posts on here regularly, but as I go through this process I hope you all will stop to think about what is being said here, and that you will pray for me as I continue to process through these thoughts to share with anyone willing to read or listen.