When I was preparing a homily last week I came across statistics that astounded me. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides in 2016 nationwide more than doubled the number of homicides, 44,965 compared with 19,362.
Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state since the turn of the century, and half the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent. Guns were the most common method used for suicides especially by men. Research shows that people often make a decision to end their lives quickly in an impulsive way. That’s why we need nationwide laws with a unified waiting period before people can buy firearms to prevent impetuous acts of self violence.
The study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital noted that from 1999-2014 the suicide rate increased threefold among girls ages of 10 to 14. While males generally committed suicide at a higher rate, the study showed that we need to focus on young women.
Research also found people who committed suicide were not only those with serious mental problems. They were found suffering from other issues, such as relationship problems, substance misuse, physical health problems, job or financial problems, and recent crises.
So what is our response as Christians? We have to be willing to give three things: our attention, our love and hope. The night before he died, Jesus gave a new commandment to his friends and followers: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
We have the power to help others. Author Jonathan Huie once said, “We hold the power to make things happen through our intentions – to the extent that we use our intention with compassion and without ego.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, “Every time you smile at someone, it is a gift to that person.” People need to know that someone cares.
Share God with them. Give them hope. The suicide prevention #: 1-800-273-8255.