Suicide. Far too many people are dying, physically, every year. Actually there seems to be more every year. Often we hear of a rash of deaths occurring in one area, or school, plus the press offers regular insights into the self-inflicted deaths of people of power, prestige and fame.
Put simply these people feel that life is not worth living and it's "time to checkout early". Meaningless. No point. Why am I here? The cries are endless. Popular groups and musicians oftentimes minister their messages of hopelessness directly to the masses, as do some television shows and movies.
The pop psychologists, commentators and counselors of this secular generation are the first to offer their tidbits of help -- especially following any publicized or prominent occurrences of suicide. According to them, there's so many reasons to live, so many things to give you meaning in life. And besides, they add, too many other people will be hurt by your premature passing. If their messages ring true, why do so many who have heard their ideas commit suicide themselves sometimes within days or weeks of all this touted advice?
Let's take a moment to consider what the world is offering as reasons to live, or to give meaning in life.
Entertainment, including television and movies along with pop music and even video games, espouse the idea that the only real purpose in life is to have fun. If the fun stops, change channels. If you're not amused, buy a better video game (or machine!). If you can't be entertained you're definitely missing out. And get bored, no way! If we can't give you on the edge-of-your-seat action, drama, or laughter, by the minute speed it up. Faster. A thrill a minute, anything less is boring and someone might just turn it off. Amusement parks function on this same concept. Even fast-food restaurants have long since assured us it's not worth having unless it's done "your way". The goal of continual pleasure is a reason for living, that much of the masses have adopted as their very own.
The quest for pleasure has an enhanced side as well. Just look at the ads, those people with the beer cans in hand are surely having more fun than others. Alcohol has become the happy drug of choice for the millions who have responded to the ads. And as for those bothersome statistics that show alcohol's role in everything from marital violence to traffic fatalities, the quick response is, "drink responsibly -- its only the excess that's the problem." Illegal drugs from heroin to crack cocaine have growing followings for those looking for faster and greater "highs". This too is seen as a route to ultimate pleasure. Marijuana cannot be left out, it's become the darling of the "need to legalize the pleasure" set. Why it really is quite harmless, just like alcohol, we're often told. Once again, those bothersome studies showing everything from smoking-like side effects (especially cancer) to brain deterioration (especially memory loss) are set aside... the effect and pursuit of pleasure are all that really matters in their eyes. When smoking has become a greater social ill in the eyes of the public than marijuana, the pursuit of pleasure has proven itself to be the ultimate goal.
"Just say no to drugs" now means "just say no to socially unacceptable drugs". For a fast growing segment of the public, the happy drugs of choice, are legal, over-the-counter or prescription medicines. Can't sleep because of the pressure, or problems, or guilt... take a pill. Feeling depressed for whatever reason Prozac and it's take-off's to the rescue. For hosts of people these drugs have become the only way to lead a "successful happy life". It becomes no surprise when the children's versions of the same behavior/thought modification drugs have gained widespread acceptance. If they can make life better for adults, why not kids too? In a growing trend, siblings of those using such drugs have begun to borrow their medicines to experience it for themselves -- one would not want to miss out on the better feeling and life these chemical enhancements glowingly offer.
Pleasure seeking has been elevated (or lowered) to an art-form in the area of sex. To fill the insatiable lust of the eyes, sex is being used to sell everything from soap to cars. Nudity is a staple in movies of all genres, and blatantly sexual acts are no longer relegated to the low budget triple X sleaze films of yesterday (although they still have a wide following). And "why not?", society says. "Sex is a natural thing", "the body is beautiful", "it doesn't hurt to look", and other choice phrases have fueled the fire. "If it feels good, do it", has become the rule. Oh, but they'll add, "make sure you do it safely". With these ideas, everything from premarital and extramarital sex to homosexuality and bi-sexuality are now accepted as "alternative" lifestyles and choices. This too is held up as a reason for living.
While mentioning sex being used as a tool for selling, it quickly raises another publicized great reason for living: to make it big. That's right, live the American/Canadian dream! The goal is to acquire as much stuff as you possibly can. The bigger the house, the better. Faster or sportier autos. A big savings/investment portfolio. All this stuff is sure to make you happy just listen to the ads. So to get these things, you're to work harder and longer and allow everything (and everyone) else to take a back seat. And if it might be awhile before you can afford all these things, that you're assured you need, they'll gladly give you credit. To not allow anything to stand in the way of immediate gratification from these goods is a cornerstone of this tenant for living. Some get slightly side-tracked, they find the work itself becomes the reason for living... the thrill of the deal, the pride of the job, the conquer-at-all-cost business philosophy. Sure the goods are nice perks for these people, but in reality just to do the job is all they need for a purpose.
Tied closely to the goal of having things is the never ending quest for knowledge. For many this is merely a stepping stone to the good jobs and prosperity that the other pursuits of happiness require. For some, it's the quest itself. Life's purpose for them is to understand, to dig deeper, to analyze, to know more. Theories on everything from the meaning of live to it's origins consume their time and thoughts... only a little more study, a little more research and they'll find the answers. This belief is held aloft as a higher reason for living by a modern and scientific world.
A few feel they have found a better reason for living. It's not money or things, it's people. Their entire reason for existence circulates around one or a few people. Sometimes a parent, often a spouse, and even children. For teens it especially may be a boyfriend or girlfriend. In living to please or care for their chosen focus of attention they have given themselves what they feel to be a noble reason for living. Oh, for sure, they have seen other people have relationship problems, those who have been spurned, betrayed, or used, but this will never happen to themselves because they've put their all into it.
All these reasons for living. All well promoted. This generation knows of them perhaps more than any before it. So why are the number of people committing suicide increasing as well? Obviously a lot of people have found these reasons to not be enough, to not be a real reason for living.
2 Chronicles 1:11-12
As for how much wisdom and discernment God gave him, consider this other passage of Scripture...
I King 4:29-31
The wisest man who ever lived had found that seeking purpose in learning was futile and so will everyone else who seeks purpose there as well. As is often common, when one quest fails, people turn to something else. So too did Solomon. His next stop was pleasure.
Surely living to have fun, to enjoy all the pleasures of life is a reason for living. For those that seek purpose in these pursuits, a common cry is that they lack the finances to really have the fun that will truly make them happy. "If I could just have more money, I could live life to the full". Our society's rich and famous become role-models for these pleasure seekers... surely they are having fun, they've got the means! Solomon surely had the means to find pleasure in anything and everything -- the wealth of an entire kingdom. But he still couldn't find purpose...
When conventional means of having fun lose their luster, the logical conclusion is to enhance them. Chemical highs. Drugs of choice. Perhaps the most common and sociably acceptable is the most pervasive -- alcohol. Solomon got there as well.
Chemical dependent "fun" is just as meaningless. In fact, these substances cloud the mind and pervert wisdom. When the high wears off, you need more and it takes more and more to get there. This is not, and can never be, a reason for living -- rather it binds the participant as a slave to a hopeless cause.
Solomon's quest for pleasure didn't end with wine. In fact the one area that likely consumed more of his time than any other was lust. We have surveyed teens and adults as to their reason for living and many teens (especially guys) have written "sex". No surprise. The message of our entertainment is that everyone is doing it -- and all the time -- so, of course, this has to be a good reason for living. Once again, Solomon had the means to out do everyone in this area as well.
I Kings 11:1-3
One thousand women, talk about living out the fantasy of many. Yet, even in the charade of marrying many of them, he couldn't find happiness. He wanted (and got) more. He was willing to compromise principles and beliefs to get them and to keep them happy. Solomon effectively became a slave to his passions (lusts). And the objects of his affections caused him problems all of his life (and not just because he had 1000 mothers-in-law!). All who would find pleasures in forbidden relationships also will suffer the consequences (whether in pre-marital, extra-marital, homosexual, or other forms, as talked about in scriptures. God designed sex as something pleasurable and desirable but only within the confines of marriage). This is not a reason for living, it's merely another form of bondage.
Solomon, who had great wealth, worked to amass even more. Here too he looked for purpose in his work and the things he could acquire.
Yes, Solomon had even acquired fame. He had fans that came from all
over the known world (1 Kings 10:24). He was living out the dream of
millions. Yet he had found no meaning...
It's here, after all these things and pursuits have failed, that people often give up hope. In fact, some despair of ever finding hope in these things before even trying. It's no wonder that so many consider life meaningless. It's into this void that one of the greatest deception of the devil shows up... Suicide. Just kill yourself, if life's not worth living, check out early. If meaning in life is found in pleasure, and the pleasure has stopped, why stay? If the pain's to great, stop it. These, and a host of similar reasons, push people towards an abrupt end.
In calling suicide "a deception", we need to establish who is the driving force behind it. It's the deceiver, the one who has been a liar and murderer from the beginning the Devil.
It may surprise you, but the Devil doesn't want followers. The Devil doesn't care if you follow him or not, he has only one threefold purpose. Jesus, himself, outlined the Devil's entire goal in this brief statement...
Put simply the Devil merely wants to keep you away from finding real life in Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if you worship the Devil, or follow any other deception, just don't follow Jesus and you go to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). This is the Devil's goal for every human being. He doesn't care about you, he wants to destroy you. In fact the Devil knows that he has already been defeated (John 12:31, 1 John 3:8, John 16:11, Colossians 2:15, etc.), and that his final destination is in the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:10), so he's lashing out at God; attempting to destroy as much of God's creation as he can. The faster he can get you to die without trusting in Jesus, the faster he has carried out his purpose. If the Devil can get you to kill yourself, he's deceived you into doing his job. All thoughts of killing yourself is temptation from the pit of hell.
Solomon, mercifully, never came to the point of despairing of life. Though he rightly called all of these worldly pursuits, "meaningless", in regards to giving a person a reason for living he did finally find the truth. It appears that Solomon wasted most of his life, in the futility of these common life causes, and that it was only late in his life that he found the real reason for living. His solution...
Solomon spends the next few verses describing the effects of growing old, but don't miss the heart of what he discovered. The only reason for living is to worship and serve our Creator. He especially warns people to not wait until they are old to find this out, to not waste their lives in the pursuit of things that are meaningless. How Solomon ends his book is a far cry from the despair of his opening proclamations of meaninglessness...
The only real reason for living is found in knowing and follow God. Only in finding life in Jesus Christ can anyone have hope and purpose. It's no surprise that Jesus, after warning of the Devil's schemes, contrasts the life that is found in Himself.
Now that's real life and real purpose! For those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), we have been given hope, hope that extends to eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:19
Because our hope extends to eternity, even if we were to suffer for the cause of Christ, as did the apostle Paul, we still have hope a goal, and a reason for living. Plus we have One who has promised to never leave or forsake us, to always be there to get us through the worst that life has to offer (Hebrews 13:5-6). Yes, we still live in a fallen world where the effects of sin run rampant, but we can rest in this assurance given to all who follow Him...
For those that trust in Jesus, God is working out everything even the bad things that happen for good. What a hope knowing He is in control!
What if you still feel tempted to kill yourself, even after placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ? It's like any other temptation. Seek help from the Lord to overcome it (1 John 5:4-5), to resist (James 4:7) or flee from it (2 Timothy 2:22).
1 Corinthians 10:13
God knows how you feel. Jesus was tempted in every way like us, yet He remained perfect and sinless.
"But wait!", some would say, "where was Jesus ever tempted to kill himself?" Consider the Devil's direct temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
Jesus responded to the Devil's temptations (and misuse of scriptures) with the truth of scriptures (see Luke 4:10-12). As our example, He clearly new that His purpose was to serve God alone (see Luke 4:8). If that is truly our purpose for living, we too will seek His will in every area of our lives (John 14:15). Being tempted is not sin in itself, dwelling on it rather than making it subject to Christ is where it becomes sin.
2 Corinthians 10:5b
Some final thoughts on suicide. Some wonder why there are those who kill others and then themselves. Most fall into two categories. If they have despaired of finding meaning in life or a reason for living -- having tried or wanted to try all the things of the world -- they blame others for standing in the way of their goal. In their minds, some individual, group (even everyone) is responsible for their inability to find a reason for living in their chosen course not realizing that whatever they choose, apart from Jesus, is no reason at all. This sometimes is expressed in a manner that blames those individuals for all their perceived pain and problems... remember, the lie is, that if life is too painful (i.e. not enough pleasure) it's not worth living. The second reason why some of these suicidal people kill (especially family members or close friends) is that they believe they are sparing those individuals from the pain of living... Remember, they truly believe that life has no purpose or reason for living. Some are mad at God, for whatever reason, perhaps blaming Him for their problems. To them taking out their vengeance on other people is a way of getting back at God.
What's the solution? THE answer, for the multitudes that are still asking, "What reason to live?", is the one that all Christians should be taking to a world that is dying:
He's what reason to live!!!
Common questions asked about suicide...
Q: What reasons do people give for committing (or attempting to
Q: What are the effects of suicide?
Q: How do people kill themselves?
Q: Are a lot of people committing suicide?
Q: Is suicide sin?
Q: Do people that commit suicide go to heaven?
1 Corinthians 3:16-17