Suicide ideation is real. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. There is a time to remove the guns from the house, and probably the ropes and extension cords too.

Many great people in history battled it. I’ve given it thought, strongly at age 18, but at different points as well. I can be hard on myself. I get self-loathing; worse than Chris Farley (on Saturday Nite Live) hitting himself in the head when he says something stupid. My grandmother’s brother Thomas had terminal cancer and shot himself. I hit a dark place when Mayo Clinic rejected me for transplant last winter and COVID and the grim reaper were chasing me around. Fleeting thoughts of not letting the suffering get too bad. I watched my mom suffocate to death. My faith and my family are more than enough to jolt me out of despair. I was grandpa-less growing up and I don’t want that my for grandkids. And I don’t want my kids to go as long as I have without a dad to call. And Kristen needs me and hurting her is unthinkable and selfish.

Also it has helped me in how I have come to a fixed conviction that death is only and always the domain of God. It is his alone to give or take away. Our society has lost that and demonic spirits of death are everywhere about. The rash of suicides on Indian reservations, I’ve seen up close…. these are spirits of death that don’t go away with more funding for social programs. Spirits are dealt with spiritually. Counseling, meds and hospitalization have an important place in curbing mental illness, which suicide is— I’m saying demons exploit our frailties and our weakest points—- and wear down the mind, as the Bible says.

As a police chaplain I was on the scene of many grim suicides. The pain the person was feeling isn’t extinguished, it explodes and inundates everyone around them, exponentially. Better to share frequently before it kills you and sets off an a-bomb in the lap of everyone you love. God gave us each other for just these moments.

Talking to others is vital. Let people in on your inner life. Please. Also, there is a spirit of death we need to bind and cast out and loose the light of life back in. Demons are behind every temptation to self-harm, and they are the lying voices in your head. Let other people speak truth and life back into you.

Tolstoy went through some dark spells during a time of existential crisis and had the guns hidden, the ropes taken away and the belts in his room removed. Tolstoy wrote this about that time:

“My question — that which at the age of 50 brought me to the verge of suicide — was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man from the foolish child to the wisest elder: it was a question without an answer to which one cannot live, as I had found by experience. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? What will come of my whole life?’ Differently expressed, the question is: ‘Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: ‘Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?’”

My Confession, Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy saw that peasants were happy simply doing God’s Will which he came to discover was best expressed in the Sermon on the Mount, loving God and loving others. Life became fulfilling, and blessed (though never pain or problem-free). He lived 32 more years and died naturally after catching pneumonia on a cold train in the winter.