God has a plan for everyone battling depression and despair.
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When United States government researchers recently tallied the suicide rate for adults in their early 20s, they were met with grim results: The number was the highest in more than 50 years.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report examined the suicide rate among 10- to 24-year-olds from 2001 to 2021. The increase is alarming and “reflects a mental health crisis among young people and a need for a number of policy changes,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher who studies U.S. death trends.
Experts cited several possible reasons for the increases, including higher rates of depression, limited availability of mental health services and the number of guns in U.S. homes.
“Picture a teenager sitting in their bedroom feeling desperate and making a decision, impulsively, to take their own life,” Dr. Woolf said. If they have access to a gun, “it’s game over.”
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds after a category of accidental deaths that includes motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings and overdoses.
“There is a misperception that if you talk to young people about depression, they’ll get depressed. A don’t-ask, don’t-tell policy for depression is not effective,” Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a psychiatrist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said. “The earlier we can identify the ones who need help, the better chance we’ll have at saving lives.”
But suicide is not only a pervasive problem for young people—it is ravaging those of all ages nationwide.
CNN reported: “The suicide rate in the United States returned to a near-record high in 2021, reversing two years of decline, according to a [CDC] report…Final data for the year shows that suicide was the 11th leading cause of death nationwide, with more than 14 deaths for every 100,000 people. The death rate has increased 32% over the past two decades, and the 4% jump between 2020 and 2021 was the sharpest annual increase in that timeframe.”
Trying to reverse the trend of suicidal has been a challenge. New programs have had mixed results. A July 2023 New York Times article stated: “It has been one year since the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline underwent a transformation, recasting its 10-digit number as 988, yet many people are unaware of the change or what the hotline provides.
“The new number is supposed to make it easier for callers to connect with help when they’re having suicidal thoughts, experiencing emotional distress or having a substance-use-related crisis, but only 17 percent of Americans say they are very or somewhat familiar with it, according to a survey…by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In addition, the survey found, people are still confused about what to expect when they call.”
Suicide’s scourge goes far beyond the borders of America. According to non-profit Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, “Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds.”
What drives people to commit suicide? And is there any hope of a solution for those who have become hopeless?
People of all ages end their lives for various reasons. Some do it after failures in school or work, or in the face of financial problems such as debt and bankruptcy. Others see worsening problems in society around them and conclude there is no hope for a better future. Divorce, stress, fear, lack of control, and guilt also play a role. After some unsuccessfully try to fill the void in their lives with money, material possessions, sex, alcohol, drugs and every other form of escape, they decide there is no other option but the final escape—death.
Others commit suicide because of a lack of social connections. They have no family members or romantic partner to show them the basic love and concern all human beings need. One man’s suicide note stated that if just one person smiled at him as he walked to the bridge he would not jump. No one did. Think of how many people you might have crossed paths with on the street or sat next to on the subway who were experiencing similar thoughts.
A Business Insider article offered a glimpse into the minds of those who attempt suicide, showing it is most often an impulsive act: “Anywhere from one-third to 80% of all suicide attempts are impulsive acts, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. 24% of those who made near-lethal suicide attempts decided to kill themselves less than five minutes before the attempt, and 70% made the decision within an hour of the attempt.
“Suicidal urges are sometimes caused by immediate stressors, such as a break-up or job loss, that go away with the passage of time. 90% of people who survive suicide attempts, including the most lethal types like shooting oneself in the head, don’t end up killing themselves later. That statistic reflects the ‘temporary nature and fleeting sway of many suicidal crises’…”
The article continued with an example of two men who survived jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge: “Many rare survivors of Golden Gate Bridge suicide attempts recall regretting their impulsive decisions instantly—even as they were falling. A couple survivors who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge told their stories to The New Yorker back in 2003, like then-18-year-old Kevin Hines who jumped in 2000 after pacing on the bridge for a half hour while passersby ignored him.
“He finally jumped based on the thought that ‘nobody cares.’”
Mr. Hines told the New Yorker: “My first thought was, ‘What…did I just do? I don’t want to die.’”
The Business Insider article continued: “Then-28-year-old Ken Baldwin, like Hines, chose to hurdle over the bridge’s railing rather than stand on it first because he didn’t want to lose his courage to jump. Although he was severely depressed on that day in 1985, he changed his mind the moment after his leap. ‘I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped,’ he said.”
This story strikes at the core of the problem—loneliness and hopelessness. People are frustrated with their circumstances and feel their lives will never improve.
Discouragement to the point of suicide is part of human nature. All human beings who have ever lived experience feelings of despair and discouragement when events in their lives do not turn out the way they want.
The pain of depression can seem to blot out all hope. Even some of history’s greatest leaders battled this. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once described it as the “black dog.” U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, regarded as one of the strongest leaders of all time, battled depression.
You may also find it surprising—and encouraging to a certain degree—that some of God’s greatest servants battled bouts of suicidal thoughts. The Bible recorded their struggles for us to learn from.
The patriarch Job, after enduring horrific trials brought on by Satan, sought death. Notice: “So that my soul chooses strangling, and death rather than my life. I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone; for my days are vanity” (Job 7:15-16).
After undergoing severe trials, the prophet Jeremiah wished he had never been born: “Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto you; making him very glad. And let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide; because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jer. 20:14-18).
The prophet Elijah, fleeing for his life from a vengeful Queen Jezebel, was temporarily suicidal: “He…came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (I Kgs. 19:4).
After hearing his despair, the account records that God comforted Elijah during his trial. The same could be said of Job.
13 Signs and Symptoms of Mental DistressDepending on the circumstances and other factors, these symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
1. Confused thinking, reduced concentration
2. Excessive fears, extreme guilt
3. Extreme mood swings
4. Withdrawal from friends and activities
5. Difficulty relating to others
6. Tiredness, low energy, sleep problems
7. Detachment from reality, hallucinations
8. Inability to cope with stress
9. Excessive anger, hostility, violence
10. Alcohol or drug problems
11. Major changes in eating habits
12. Sex drive changes
13. Suicidal thinking
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, contact emergency services. In the U.S., call 988 for the suicide and crisis hotline or 911 for immediate help.
Source: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
The “god of this world”
An overarching theme in suicide notes is the desire to escape the terrible conditions on Earth. Those who commit suicide feel that life has become unbearable. Many see or experience violent crime, rape, broken families and misery and ask, “Why has God abandoned mankind?”
The knowledge of why this world is in such terrible condition is revealed in a book many own but few study. Mankind’s future could be known if politicians, educators and other leaders were willing to investigate the only source of divinely revealed knowledge—the Bible.
This Book reveals mankind’s history and future. Humanity has been cut off from its Creator ever since its fateful decision in the Garden of Eden to take to itself the knowledge of how to live.
Since then, man has existed in a state of isolation from God’s blessings and protection. II Corinthians 4 reveals the true ruler of this world: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not…” (vs. 4). The context makes plain the being referred to here is Satan the devil.
Revelation 12:9 also shows “the devil…deceives the whole world.”
In light of just these two verses, is it any wonder that life is filled with pain and misery for so many millions? (To learn more about the state of this world, read our revealing booklet A World in Captivity.)
Satan seeks to destroy mankind. John 10:10 states, “The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” Jesus also explained that “the devil…was a murderer from the beginning” (8:44).
Whether Satan can successfully inspire someone to kill another person or to kill themselves, the end result is the same: death. Suicide is self-murder. Just because the life a person takes is their own does not make it right.
The Sixth Commandment clearly states, “You shall not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Although some argue they have the “right” to take their own life, this is false. Only God, as the Creator of life, has the right to take it.
There is also the controversial subject of assisted suicide. Although outside the scope of this article, assisted suicide obviously falls under the category of suicide and would be considered murder in God’s eyes.
Return to John 10:10. It explains God’s will for every human being, in stark contrast to the devil’s ambitions: “…I [Christ] am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
God desires that everyone live the abundant life. But how can this happen?
No matter how many suicide prevention call centers mankind opens, humanity has proven to be unable to address the root cause of suicide—the unsatisfying and painful conditions that exist worldwide. Just as it has not yet been able to solve so many of its other problems—disease, war, poverty, crime, etc.—humanity has also failed to prevent the current suicide pandemic.
Wonderful Environment Coming
God deeply cares about every single human being. He made every person in His image (Gen. 9:6). If He knows every “hair on your head” (Matt. 10:29-31), and is acutely aware of every sparrow that dies, how much more does God care about every person who has ever lived? The often-quoted John 3:16 makes clear that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”
Because of this outgoing concern for His Creation, God plans to intervene in world affairs. Bible prophecies recorded long ago reveal that a new world is coming. Jesus Christ promised, “I will come again” (John 14:3). When this happens, He will usher in the Kingdom of God—a world-ruling supergovernment that will bring the peace and prosperity so many desperately want.
Isaiah 55 describes this wonderful, prosperous time: “Every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he that has no money; come you, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price…Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” (vs. 1, 3).
Utopia is not a distant dream of the world’s educators, philosophers, city planners, economists or political leaders. It will soon be reality. This incredible period of happiness and fulfillment is described throughout the pages of your Bible, and its arrival means the end of all forms of murder and self-harm, including suicide.
Here is what God’s Word reveals about the peaceful environment that will come: “Thus says the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain…there shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (Zech. 8:3-5).
This prophecy illustrates that people, young and old, will live full, rich lives, not cut short by a frantic impulsive decision amid feelings of hopelessness.
The abundant life Christ preached will be offered to all human beings, including those who previously lived and died. The millions who committed suicide will be resurrected to new life in a wonderful environment. Each one will receive an opportunity to know God’s truth and qualify for eternal life.
Our booklet Is There Life After Death? reveals more about God’s Plan for those who have ended their lives.
No More Desire for Death
God’s Kingdom will dramatically improve global conditions that will make suicide a thing of the past. No longer will people see death as an escape. They will want to live! The Creator of mankind actually put in all of us the desire to live forever. This is why those who survived suicide attempts from the Golden Gate Bridge say they immediately regretted the decision.
Suicide is preventable when the right conditions are in place. Think. What if there were no broken families? What if the bonds of friendship were strong and unbreakable? What if everyone always had someone to talk to about their problems or frustrations? What if all human beings had a purposeful role in society, with a steady and productive job? What if marriages were all rock-solid? Consider how much stronger would be the social fabric.
How many people would want to commit suicide under such conditions?
In God’s Kingdom, everyone will be taught to exercise self-control over their mind and their emotions. People will be given the strength to overcome feelings of despair. They will believe real positive change is possible and have access to the power to do so. Once this world’s terrible environment is replaced, men, women and children will no longer want to escape their circumstances. And those who previously committed suicide who have been given a second chance to live will be shown how to overcome the problems that once overcame them.
Despite the gloomy reports we examined that rising suicide rates are the new normal, there is hope. The coming new world will provide an environment where people will not desire death. For millions struggling today, there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
To learn more about what God’s Word reveals about man’s future, read our free book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!
This article contains information from The Associated Press.