So I don’t have a tattoo (picture above is not my wrist), but there is a movement that started not long ago, in which individuals who struggled with suicidal thoughts, would get a tattoo of a semicolon. This indicated that the potential end of their sentence did not occur, but that they chose to instead continue their story. The woman who started this movement recently died by suicide. I didn’t know her, but I do know that the semicolon movement encouraged and emboldened a lot of people.
The following is a note I wrote to myself after losing a patient to suicide not long ago. If you or someone you know have been affected by suicide, I hope the ultimate victory of life over death is a comfort.
I hate suicide. That may be a simple statement and an expected one from a psychiatrist, but I can’t say it more emphatically. I’ve been taught that it is the terminal state of the disease of depression. Conditioned to view losing patients I’ve cared for the same as an oncologist or a surgeon might when a patient passes. No doubt, any death is tragic, but there is something so unnatural about a death that happens at the hands of the victim.
Suicide is death, in its most raw and ugly state. The terrible conclusion of a whispered lie that becomes a scream. The lie that ending ones life will improve anything.
I’ve heard it described as selfish, but I believe it is something different. Suicide is a delusion, an exaggeration of a wish that pain would stop. A defacement of the very image of God. Suicide is a victory of death over life, a triumph of despair over hope.
As angry as suicide makes me. As terrible as the loss feels; there is hope. A promise. Death will be defeated.
“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 ESV
For now I yearn for the realization of the completed work of Christ.
Often I hear well meaning people state “if you kill yourself, you’ll go to hell”. A fleeting statement that has devastating implications for everyone affected suicide. While this belief may seem protective, the dark and lonely moment before someone takes their lives isn’t filled with theological debates, but instead is marked by a flood of lies, or numb blankness, as it has been described to me by many survivors.
I do not believe suicide condemns a believer to hell. It merely robs the victim of mortal victory and postpones death’s inevitable defeat.
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”
Romans 8:2-4, 10 ESV
Sin is connected to death. This law will be and is now being replaced by the law of the Spirit of life. To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ. I mourn the loss bitterly, but pine for the day when we will no longer be subject to sin and death.