“Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your altar. Please keep going Courtney, for Frances for her life will be so much happier without me. I love you. I love you.” (Suicide note of Musician Kurt Cobain April 8th 1994)
“Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool – good luck.” Suicide note of Actor George Sanders April 25th 1972)
This is a serious subject. It is a real subject. It is also a seemingly depressing subject. It is regarding the person who commits suicide. I do not hope to cover this subject and exhaust it. It has a stigma to it that no other form of grief carries. In any significant gathering of people at least 25% will personally know someone who has taken their life. Depending on who has taken their life the ripple effect is different.
Firstly, when a parent takes their own life. The words “mom” and “dad” are two of the most emotionally charged words in the English language with complex securities. When a parent takes their life there is a sense of abandonment with the children even if the kids are adult at the time of their parent”s death. A daughter does not have her father to walk her down the aisle. A son does not have his father to congratulate him on his career accomplishments. Grandchildren have no grandparents and so on.
Secondly, when a spouse takes their own life. There are no goodbyes. There is no chance of reconciliation or recriminations if divorce was being considered. There is just deafening silence. The surviving spouse second guesses if they really knew their partner. Photographs and video of seemingly “happy” times are seriously brought into question.
Thirdly, when a child takes their own life. Part of your past and future is ripped from you. When asked, “how many children do you have” the answer is agonizing. Are you still a parent or are you classed as unfit. This tragedy usually produces another tragedy of divorce between the parents.
Fourthly, when a sibling takes their own life. The sibling relationship is extraordinary. There are many shared experiences between siblings. Chores, bedrooms, family celebrations, secrets, tension, and a personal history bound in the heritage of love and jealousy. There are many fights for and with each other. When a sibling takes their life a sense of mortality sets in.
In any case of suicide there is a police investigation where the grieving relative has to be investigated with all sensitivity. With assisted suicide, cult activity, depression and euthanasia on the increase awkward questions have to be asked. After looking at the various types of suicide let’s look at some facts about this subject.
In 1963 there were four states that had laws against suicide and attempted suicide. Suicide Boys Merch the 1990’s all states have removed these laws. In other countries it still carries the penalty of an unmarked grave and the forfeit of property. In the United States 30,000 take their lives every year, twice the figure of those who die from HIV. The season of spring is the highest ratio for suicide. Half of all suicides are with a gun. It is the third highest cause of death in the US (after homicide and vehicle accidents). Among the elderly it is highest with those who are divorced or widowed. For every suicide there are at least 25 attempts. The strongest factor is depression. Every 17 minutes someone takes their life in the United States. The ratio of actual death is four men to every one woman. The ratio of attempted suicide is three women to every one man. There are three suicides for every one natural death in retired law enforcement officers (Center for disease, control and prevention 2010).
These are just some of the famous and infamous that have taken their own lives.
Actors: Dana Plato (Different Strokes); Hugh O’Connor (In the Heat of the Night); David Strickland (Suddenly Susan); Brian Keith (TV actor); Jonathan Brandis (Never Ending Story); Peter Duel (Alias Smith & Jones). Musicians: Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols); Kurt Cobain (Musician); Michael Hutchence (INXS); Terry Kath (Chicago). Athletes: Tony Harris (Basketball); Andre Waters (Football); Jeff Alm (Football). Historical figures: Cleopatra (Queen of Egypt); Mark Anthony (Roman General); Marcus Brutus (lead killer of Julius Caesar); Judas Iscariot (Betrayer of Jesus)
Does the Bible tell us anything about suicide that helps us beyond the types, facts and cultural characters of suicide? The answer is, absolutely yes. There are seven recorded characters in the Bible that committed suicide and one horrific warning.
The first is Abimelech. Abimelech was the son of the Judge Gideon and a slave girl, who lived in Shechem. The people of Israel had asked Gideon to be their King, but he declined. Gideon felt God should be their King. Unfortunately Abimelech did not hold this point of view. (Judges 9:54) “Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’ “So his servant ran him through, and he died.”
The second is King Saul. He was the first king of Israel who never really wanted to be a monarch. But as his reign continued Saul left his devotion to God. (1 Samuel 31:4) “Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.”
The third is King Saul’s armor bearer. He followed Saul in suicide but for different reasons. Saul was afraid his enemies would abuse his body but they would never do this to an armor bearer. He took his own life out of loyalty to Saul. (1 Samuel 31:5) “When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.”
The fourth is Ahithophel. He was a counselor of King David and a man greatly renowned for his sagacity. At the time of Absalom’s revolt he deserted David and espoused the cause of Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:23) “When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself.”
The fifth is King Zimri who was a commander who murdered king Elah at Tirzah, and succeeded him as king. However, Zimri reigned only seven days, because the army elected Omri as king, and with their support laid siege to Tirzah. Finding his position suicideboymerch.net untenable, Zimri set fire to the palace and perished. (1 Kings 16:18) “When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died…”
The sixth is Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver but never understood the consequences of his betrayal. It led him to attempt hanging himself but the rope snapped causing him to fall bursting open his belly. (Matthew 27:3-5) “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”
The seventh is Samson the judge. He was held captive by the Philistines suffering the torture of having both eyes gouged out. In a final attempt to enact justice on the Philistines he pushed down the pillars that held up a building that crushed both Samson and the Philistines. (Judges 16:30) “Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.” This could be argued as the first suicide bomber.
In addition to these seven examples of Old and New Testaments we have the forecast of many wanting to take their lives after Jesus returns, but not be able to do so. (Revelation 9:6) “During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.”
After looking at these characters in scripture I need to add context to how a postmodern culture views suicide. There are nine views. There is the heroic view. This is done for the good of others like Samson who killed more Philistines in his death than in life. The same for flight 93 150 miles from its target in Washington DC 40 people laid down their lives (September 11th 2001). Then there is the philosophical view. Crazed leaders who influence social suicide like Jim Jones in Jonestown where 909 men, women and children died (November 18th 1978). Assisted suicide can be a form of escape. Assisted suicide has become a moral challenge to lawmakers among the terminally ill. This comes from the Roman philosopher Seneca who believed in being in control of your own fate (3 BC – 65 AD). Romantic suicide is anything but romantic. When a spouse dies after 60 years of marriage the survivor can think they have nothing to live for. It is a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1597). Contagious suicide is often found among POW’s or those trapped with no hope. For instance, those who jumped from the Trade Towers (September 11th 2001) while holding hands. One dies and spurs another to die. Manipulating suicide is where someone may say, “If you leave me I will kill myself!” Often found among young people in their first love. Distress signaled suicide takes on a similar motive but deliberately failing. The statistics shown above shed light on this with more women attempting suicide but more men actually taking their lives. Punishing suicide is where someone may say, “When I die you will be sorry!” Again, this is commonly found among young teenagers in their first experience of a meaningful relationship. Culturally approval suicide can be a matter of honor like the Japanese or ancient Egyptians. Finally religious suicide is not as common today as the ancient world, but it still exists. During Reformation (16th century) the Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230’s) and the fall of Jerusalem (70AD) many took their own life.
Despite the method, very few death certificates carry the cause of death as suicide but ‘overdose’, ‘suffocation’, ‘drowning’, ‘fatal gun wound’, or ‘asphyxiation’ because the forensic world is sensitive to the world of suicide as the last document to be written concerning a person.
Having looked at the types of suicide, famous and infamous characters, Biblical examples and the postmodern views, I will now examine the life of King Saul. Here is a man who did not want the crown of Israel but met the challenge and succeeded. But there was a distinct decline that led to his suicide on the battlefield. His life and story are found in the two books of Samuel and first Chronicles.
Look at his domestic family life. (1 Samuel 9:1) “There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish…” Saul was from a good family in that it had reputation and a good standing in the community of Israel. We are not told too many details but a ‘man of standing’ meant Kish taught his sons the values and core beliefs of Israel. They were respected. What comes next is an explanation of how impressive Saul was. (1 Samuel 9:2) “He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others.” Like David, there was something attractive about his posture and presence. Even Samuel the prophet recognized this. (1 Samuel 10:24) “There is non like him among all the people.” When Saul walked into the room he did not need to be announced. But with this natural attraction of posture came a strong sense of humility. (1 Samuel 10:22) “…he has hidden himself among the baggage.” Samuel the prophet wanted to anoint Saul as king but he did not want it. It was not rebellion but humility. Saul also demonstrated a sense of self-control. (1 Samuel 10:27) “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.” The culture and custom was to bring gifts to the newly anointed king like the three wise men did with Jesus. On the day he was crowned king he showed restraint. (1 Samuel 11:13) “No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.” Saul was highly motivated to honor the role of king. (1 Samuel 13:12) “I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” Samuel the prophet instructed him to wait until he came to make a sacrifice.