This is World Suicide Prevention Day and we can be mindful of all those who feel that life is no longer worth living, those who feel rejected by others and desperate, those whose sense of isolation has been deepened by the pandemic.
Since I realized that this was Suicide Prevention Day I have been recalling members of congregations who chose to end their lives and those who loved them, and still do. Within days of beginning my ministry in outport Newfoundland a bright, talented teen who could well have been gay took his own life and through the years a number of other people made the same choice. Sometimes they had received medical and psychological help, including hospitalization, over extended periods of time, to no avail. Most had supportive families and loving friends, including people in their faith communities. Those supporters suffered through the struggles of their loved ones and were devastated by their deaths. I've been retired for three years yet I am still experience the heaviness of those losses and my own inability to make a difference with those who sought my support as a Christian minister.
Today we have the additional challenge of navigating the option of Medical Assistance in Dying. Some choose to end their lives, not out of desperation but because they have exhausted every possibility for recovery and simply desire a peaceful end. One former parishioner chose this option after years of courageously addressing severe illness. She was elderly, but what about young people who want this choice?
It seems to me that while there are no easy answers when it comes to suicide prevention we can provide a non-judgmental atmosphere of love and hope as Christians. I know that some congregations which pressed the government to let them reopen did so, at least in part. because they wanted to be supportive through worship and other means to those who lived with depression and suicidal thoughts. We need to be honest and open about mental illness and respect the pain many experience, including from our pulpits.
What in the world is "kayak church?' Read today's Groundling blog to find out.