Saturday, August 16, 2014

Suicide



Robin Williams committed suicide this past week and the reaction was one of great shock and disbelief that the man who made us laugh till we cried fell victim to the dark, dark, dark side of depression. For the first time, Robin Williams made us cry with no laughter in sight...

My iWitness...

My earliest remembrance of understanding the meaning of suicide was when I was 8 years old.

Nine years later I would come into my first real contact with suicide.

My first "paycheck paying" job was at Carl's Jr. restaurant in The City Shopping Center in Orange County, California. I loved working "fast food" and thoroughly enjoyed the comrarderie of my workmates. There always seemed to be a group of us who would head out to the beach after our shift ended or take in a movie up in Los Angeles. The Carl's Jr. Christmas party was the first party I ever attended where alcohol was served.

At 11:00 pm one night in November one of my workmates called me and woke me up from a nice deep slumber. I had my own personal phone line in my bedroom. Even in my groggy state I could tell my friend was a little upset about something. And when he said this next line my senses went into immediate overdrive, "David, I am going to tell you something and then I am going to do something and then you will never see me again."

I remember becoming very panicky with my heart beating more rapidly with each passing minute.
"Hold on just a minute! Whatever it is, we can talk it through, we can work it out. Hold on here just a minute."

His words became more garbled as his tears and crying voice intensified, but the message was crystal clear, "David, I am going to tell you something and then I am going to do something and then you will never see me again."

As my pleadings and his insistence came to a fever pitch, he told me something...

"David, I'm gay..."

And then he hung up the phone...and within seconds all I heard was the monotone dial tone...

Since that day I have come across far too many cases of suicide...

One of my best friends in college called to say that his lovable, adorable, fun loving dad had taken his own life...

As a pastor in Augusta, Georgia one of my friend's father called to tell her that he was going to commit suicide. She pleaded with him to wait until she made the four hour drive. He said he would wait. Fifteen minutes before she arrived he shot himself. When she opened the front door there he was in his recliner, shotgun on the floor with his dog sitting on his lap wimpering.

Just a few years ago I went through a one year stretch where I knew or was acquainted with 13 people who committed suicide. One of them was my youth group leader who mentored me in my high school years to become a more devoted follower of Jesus.

Suicide equals a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, a lot of questions and a lot of tears...

I used to think suicide was the most selfish choice a person could make. I used to think that if you committed suicide you were going straight to hell. I don't think those things anymore...

Here's what I do think...

Depression is one of our most haunting and debilitating diseases. It grabs us by the throat and takes us down the deepest, darkest, dankest path anyone has ever traveled all the while telling us over and over, there is no way out, there is no tomorrow, there is no getting better, everything will only get worse...

And this chorus rains down on our heart and mind so fast and so much that it floods us with one thought and one thought only, "The only way out is to take myself out..."

And some people do...
Some people don't, but some people do...
And I do believe that those who do, in their minds, this is the most logical, rational, courageous choice to make.

And I do believe that in that moment where those who committ suicide move from life to death, Jesus is right there with His tender arms tightly wrapped around them weeping with them and for them...

May God continue to have mercy on us all...

There, but for the grace of God, go I....


And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often (not so much today!) and Fear not!
David!

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8. 12)

May the light of Jesus shine bright in all of our lives...

Epilogue....

I callled my friend from Carl's Jr.'s uncle about the whereabouts of my friend that night. His uncle said that my friend had just left the house. I told my mom and dad what had happened and they said that I was as white as a ghost. I felt completely helpless and mad at myself that I couldn't "talk" my friend out of this most drastic step...

The next day I called Carl's Jr. asking if my friend had shown up for work. They said, "No he hasn't. He was scheduled to work today but didn't show up."

During the lunch hour at school I shelled out a few more quarters in the pay phone by the gym, calling around looking for my friend. He was nowhere to be found...

At 4:30 in the afternoon my phone in my bedroom rang and I picked it up and heard my friend's familiar voice..."David, can we talk?"  And talk we did....