The Prevalence of Suicide

The Problem

Suicide, depression, and self-affliction are not issues to take lightly, or to be passive about. They are not moot concerns left to Christian counselors and psychiatrists. This American epidemic is widespread, and it has touched every corner of society. Indeed, it is difficult to find a person who has not been directly or indirectly affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts. Statistically, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics shows that suicide rates have increased by over thirty percent in the last ten years. Moreover, in 2012, more Americans were killed by suicide than by car accidents; suicide was the leading cause of injury-related deaths. Simply, as one reporter notes in ‘Relevant’ magazine, Americans are currently more prone to die on purpose than by accident. Over one million people attempt to end their life every year; every fourteen seconds, one succeeds. Negating the categorization of injury-related deaths, whereby suicide was the leading cause, suicide is now the second most probable means of death, overall, for college-aged students. This is an urgent and detrimental concern. Hopeless people’s lives are at stake, and the heartbreaking stories are endless.

Working To A Solution

Positively, awareness for depression, anxiety, self-affliction, and suicide has increased over the past few years. Reese Butler created the first suicidal “hotline” in 1999, and numerous stories of healing came about with its founding. Organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), founded to raise attentiveness for mentioned issues, were made to be public icons through their well-designed t-shirts and distinguished musicians’ support. If anything, TWLOHA, and similar organizations, influenced people to talk about this issue again. The Church has found itself in similar shoes with such organizations; they have reevaluated the issue, but their means of thwarting it has been ‘statistically obsolete’. Nevertheless, despite such efforts in the past decade, statistics show an increase in suicide and depression. What will it take for this epidemic to be tamed?

  1. Society must resolve that this is an urgent epidemic in America. ‘Life’ must revitalize its value, and awareness of the issue must be communally propagated. Despite the apathy of American society, a call to action is necessary to subdue this issue.
  2. One must identify the underlying problem that leads to these suicidal conclusions. Austerely, it is a lack of hope in the lives of the suicidal struggler. Hope is the great motion of the future, and without it, human existence ceases. Therefore, the afflicted need a fulfilling does of hope. From a Christian perspective, true hope can only be supplied in the fulfilling delight of life in Christ.
  3. Practical steps need to be taken to bring hope to the hopeless. The concerns of this point are many and relative, but a few universals can be mentioned: elucidation of the gospel in the church and surrounding community, engaging culture beyond the church walls, relinquishing the American isolated focus on the self, replacing apathy with a desire for Christ-like ministry and passion, etc.

Social Theory

Sociologically, this epidemic can be termed and clarified by the Structural Functional theory. Society is composed of individuals, and each individual provides a function to that society by their mere existence. At the most basic level, an individual functionalizes society by his or her mere existence and consequence resource in it. Therefore, the suicidal tendency of an individual denies their function within society, and thus, renders his or herself useless to its structure. Yet, even if this most basic function is accepted, it is not all that appealing. To be functionally characterized in such a shallow clarification is quite depressing. Nonetheless, function is magnified in one’s engagement of smaller and more meaningful sub-cultures – i.e., the church, a company, and the family. Meaning can be impressed upon an individual through their functional interaction with a purposeful community.

Therefore, using the terminology of the Structural Functional theory, a formidable solution can begin to manifest. Practically, the loving and embracing community of the church is the best means of impressing a function upon an individual. “You are purposed to delight in God… You are made to worship Him… You are meant to be in a relationship with Him.” A Christian would explain that other perceived functions in other sub-cultures leave an individual empty, because mentioned sub-cultures are founded on empty functions themselves – i.e., money, societal notoriety, the emphasis of the self. If one is merely functioning in a functionless sub-culture, they are destined to such suicidal tendencies. Simply, the issue can be resolved in the revelation of the individual’s intended function of reconciliation with their Creator in the structure of their existence. 

To heal the broken, the broken must embrace hope. To embrace everlasting hope, one must embrace Christ.To attempt and heal is to attempt and present Christ.

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