Monday, November 08, 2010

Dealing With Suicide

There's a church in the eastern metro of the Twin Cities that is hosting an event on suicide prevention.  This Presbyterian congregation has made mental illness and health a primary ministry, so it's not that shocking that they would do something on suicide and helping know the warning signs.

What's interesting is that there is no mention of the whole rash of suicide because of sexual orientation.  This is a just an event on teens an suicide.

I know this sounds bad, coming from a gay man, but I'm kind of glad this at least from the announcement, about helping people be more aware of teen suicides and how we can best prevent them from happening.

In light of the most recent suicide attributed to bullying of a gay teen, I've been wondering about how the wider community has been responding to all of this.  Most of the time it's been with anger and cries that "something must be done."  I don't want to ignore the problem of homophobia, but there I am concerned in all the hue and cry, what is being left out is the mental illness aspect of suicide.  We aren't talking about the depression that kids can face, and we aren't talking about how we need to have professionals teach kids how to help their friends who are facing emotional issues. My fear is that this has become yet another issue in the culture wars; ignoring the issues of depression that might be a part of this.

I think suicide is one of those things that are sometimes mysteries.  What one person can withstand, another just crumbles. 

The first (and so far only) funeral I've done as a pastor was for man only a year younger than me who committed suicide.  His death caused a lot of pain among his friends. I knew him, but not that well.  Nevertheless, his death also affected me. 

What I'm trying to get at is that instead of getting angry, we need to try to do a better job of paying attention to kids when they are in pain.  We need to find ways to hook them up with mental health professionals if they need that.

There are times for angry fists, but sometimes the response needs to be a hug.

No comments: