Why Not Just End It All?
“I AM better off dead than alive.” Who said those words? Someone who didn’t believe in God? Someone who had left God? Someone whom God had left? None of the above. The speaker was the devout but distraught man Jonah.—Jonah 4:3, Today’s English Version.
The Bible doesn’t say that Jonah was about to take his life. Nevertheless, his desperate plea reveals a sobering fact—at times even a servant of God can be overwhelmed by anguish.—Psalm 34:19.
Some youths feel such intense anguish that they see no reason to continue living. They may feel as did 16-year-old Laura, who states: “For years, I have had recurring bouts of depression. I often think about killing myself.” If you know someone who has expressed a desire to end it all—or if you have considered that idea yourself—what can you do? Let’s take a closer look at why such a thought might occur.
Behind the Despair
Why would anyone consider taking his or her own life? A number of factors could be involved. For one thing, we live in “critical times hard to deal with,” and many adolescents feel the pressures of life with great intensity. (2 Timothy 3:1) Then, too, human imperfection can cause some to harbor deeply negative thoughts about themselves and the world around them. (Romans 7:22-24) Sometimes this is because of mistreatment. In other cases, a medical issue may be involved. Significantly, in one country it is estimated that more than 90 percent of those who did take their life were suffering from some type of mental illness.*
Of course, no one is immune to adversity. Indeed, the Bible says that “all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” (Romans 8:22) That includes young people. In fact, youths can be profoundly affected by negative events, such as the following:
● The death of a relative, friend, or pet
● Family conflict
● Academic failure
● The breakup of a romance
● Mistreatment (including physical or sexual abuse)
Admittedly, sooner or later virtually all youths encounter one or more of the situations listed above. Why are some better equipped to ride out the storm than others? Experts say that youths who want to give up the fight feel utterly helpless and hopeless. In other words, such youths see no light on the horizon. They don’t really want to die; they just want to end the pain.
No Way Out?
You might know someone who wants to end the pain—so much that he or she has expressed a desire to stop living. If that is the case, what can you do?
If a friend is distressed to the point of wanting to die, urge that person to get help. Then, regardless of how he or she feels about it, talk to a responsible adult. Don’t worry about ruining your friendship. By reporting the matter, you may well save your friend’s life!
But what if you yourself have had thoughts of ending it all? Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Talk to someone—a parent, a friend, or anyone else who cares and who will listen to your concerns and take you seriously. You have nothing to lose—and everything to gain—by talking out your problems.*
Granted, your problems won’t disappear just because you’re talking them out. But the support of a trusted confidant may be just what you need to put your situation in perspective. It may even help you to work out some practical solutions.
When undergoing distress, remember this: No matter how dire a situation may seem, in time things will change. At one point, the psalmist David, who was no stranger to adversity, was able to say to God in prayer: “You have changed my mourning into dancing for me.”—Psalm 30:11.
David certainly didn’t expect the dancing to last forever. He knew from experience that life’s problems ebb and flow. Have you noticed that to be true with your problems? Some of them may seem overwhelming—at least for now. But be patient. Things change, often for the better. In some cases, problems might be alleviated in ways that you couldn’t have predicted. In other cases, you may discover a way of coping that you hadn’t considered. The point is, distressing problems will not stay the same forever.—2 Corinthians 4:17.
The Value of Prayer
The most important form of communication you can have is prayer. You can pray as did David: “Search through me, O God, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my disquieting thoughts, and see whether there is in me any painful way, and lead me in the way of time indefinite.”—Psalm 139:23, 24.
Prayer is not a mere crutch. It is real communication with your heavenly Father, who wants you to “pour out your heart” to him. (Psalm 62:8) Consider the following basic truths about God:
● He is aware of the circumstances that contribute to your distress.—Psalm 103:14.
● He knows you better than you know yourself.—1 John 3:20.
● “He cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.
● In his new world, God will “wipe out every tear” from your eyes.—Revelation 21:4.
When the Problem Is Health Related
As mentioned earlier, suicidal feelings are often rooted in some type of illness. If that’s the case with you, do not be ashamed to seek help. Jesus acknowledged that those who are ailing need a physician. (Matthew 9:12) The good news is that many conditions can be treated. And treatment may help you to feel much better!*
The Bible offers a truly comforting promise—that in God’s new world, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) God says that at that time, “the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17) In the meantime, do your best to cope with life’s challenges, confident that in God’s due time, depression will be a thing of the past.—Revelation 21:1-4.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 9
Your parents want to know everything about your life—even some things you’d like to keep to yourself. Can you ever win the battle for some privacy?
It is important to note, however, that most youths who have a mental illness do not commit suicide.
Christians who are distressed have an added resource—congregation elders.—James 5:14, 15.
For more information, see Chapter 13 of this book.
“Let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers.”—Philippians 4:6, 7.
When you feel down, take a brisk walk. Getting outside and engaging in exercise can produce a sense of calm and well-being.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
The victims of suicide are not only those who take their life but also the loved ones who are left behind.
If I feel worthless and unloved, I will reach out to (insert the name of a person you can confide in) ․․․․․
One blessing in my life that I can reflect on appreciatively is ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Even severe problems are only temporary. How can reasoning on that fact help you?
● In what way does suicide pass a person’s problems on to someone else?
[Blurb on page 104]
“At times, my depression was so intense that I just wanted to die, but now I have my life together again, thanks to persevering in prayer and receiving treatment.”—Heidi
[Box on page 100]
If You Feel Overwhelmed
Even some faithful men and women of the Bible occasionally felt overwhelmed by life’s anxieties. Consider some examples.
Rebekah: “If this is the way it is, just why am I alive?”—Genesis 25:22.
Moses: “Please kill me off altogether, . . . and let me not look upon my calamity.”—Numbers 11:15.
Elijah: “O Jehovah, take my soul away, for I am no better than my forefathers.”—1 Kings 19:4.
Job: “O that in Sheol you would conceal me, . . . that you would set a time limit for me and remember me!”—Job 14:13.
In each of the above cases, the situation eventually changed for the better—and in a way that the sufferer could not have foreseen. Be assured that the same can be true for you!
[Picture on page 102]
Feelings of despair are like storm clouds—in time, they will pass