Suicide Survivors: How the Clergy can Help
You or Hurt You
Suicide Survivors: How the Clergy can Help You or Hurt You
by Kevin Caruso
One person that you may look to in your time of pain after a suicide is a member of the clergy. And whether you call that person a pastor, a minister, a priest, or anything else, he or she may be crucial to you for spiritual support. (For the sake of simplicity, in this article I will use the word “minister” to cover all of these clergy members.)
Now, sometimes a minister will come through in ways that are wonderful, reaching out to help in every way possible in your time of need. So, thank God that there are many GREAT ministers out there. And I hope that you find one. Or two. Or ten.
Praying with your minister can be a way to help yourself heal.
And discussing POSITIVE scriptures can give you additional comfort and guidance.
Also, your minister may turn out to be one of your most important counselors.
A great minister can be invaluable in your time of pain. Period.
But, you may encounter a minister who is VERY insensitive about suicide and VERY inaccurate about Biblical references and Biblical interpreations about suicide.
Hard to believe. But true.
I have been to funerals for angels who died by suicide when ministers have rambled on and on about suicide being a “sin.” And in spite of that horrible, unforgivable “sin” of suicide, they contend that there may still be “hope” that the person who died by suicide may actually go to Heaven!
My God, that sounds like HATE speech to me. How could any man or woman of God even THINK like that, let alone spew such ignorance during the funeral of an angel?
Hard to believe, indeed.
And I have spoken with countless suicide survivors who have been deeply hurt by comments that ministers have made.
Keep in mind that much of this is a carry over from the outdated and sickeningly inaccurate views about suicide that some ministers held as GOSPEL in the past. And let us not forget that many churches would not even perform a funeral for someone who died by suicide because the “sin” of suicide was so grievous and unforgivable.
And the “suicide is a sin” mantra was repeated in many churches like the refrain of a bad song, over and over.
So there is some ugly history to contend with. Fortunately, we are making progress, but the “suicide is a sin” mentality is still extant for many.
So, be careful.
Do not hesitate to reach out for spiritual help or counseling from your minister, but, again, be careful. And if he or she says something that does not sound right or is insensitive, do not be afraid to speak up, or to FIND A NEW MINISTER.
When you are in extreme pain after a suicide, do not let ANYONE mistreat you in any way, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
And for the few ministers out there who STILL do not understand the BASICS about suicide, let me respectfully proffer some important FACTS:
Suicide is not a sin. It has never been a sin, and it will never be a sin.
One more time: Suicide IS NOT a sin.
People who die by suicide are angels.
The angels who we lose to suicide were almost all suffering from a mental illness at the time of their death. They did not choose this illness.
Depression is the number one cause for suicide.
People who are mentally ill DO NOT think clearly and oftentimes believe that they MUST die by suicide in order to end their pain.
People who die by suicide thus DO NOT want to die, they want to STOP THEIR PAIN.
God has GREAT COMPASSION AND LOVE for those who are in pain, and for those who die by suicide.
For the ministers that understand all of the above facts (and there are MANY of them), God bless you. And thank you for showing the love, understanding, caring, and acceptance that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would have shown to ALL suicide survivors and suicide angles if he were among us today.
We ALL need to work together to show love and support to suicide survivors; and to provide them with the spiritual help and support that they DESERVE.
I love you,
If you or someone you know is suicidal, please go to the Home Page of this website for immediate help.
I love you.