Saturday, August 16, 2014

Suicide is the Ultimate Sacrifice at the Altar of Self

I’ve been holding off, trying not to really, blog about the recent news of the suicide of popular actor and American hero Robin Williams. It was quite clear in the minutes and hours that followed the news of his death that anyone who dared to speak harshly about him or suicide should be prepared for a plethora of criticism with statements such as:
“You don’t know anything about depression.”
“How can you say such cruel things at a time like this?”
Some of the comments I’ve seen online have been downright cruel against anyone who chose NOT to honor the man for taking his life. HONOR? That’s what I said. Let me explain...

In a prepared statement his widow said,
“Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”
From this statement we are to understand that his suicide could only be characterized as part of his brave fight with depression and other struggles. That is when I realized I had something to say. Giving up hope is NEVER brave.

But I don’t want to write specifically about Robin Williams. I only mention his situation since it was his suicide that brought it yet again into the public conscience. What bothers me deeply, and has for quite some time, which if you read my blog might be obvious, is that our society continues to run full speed ahead into a world dedicated to self.
People celebrate abortion as an expression of self rights.
Sexuality has devolved into pleasing the self through pornography, gender reassignment, same-sex marriage.
And now suicide is a brave example of self expression in the throngs of depression and other illness.
In a society which honors the self above all other relationships, I suspect we shall see an increasing trend toward this horrific end to life. And why not? After all, for almost thirty years life itself has been a matter of personal choice. Why not death? And if the media coverage of Robin Williams is any indication, it shall be seen as just another example of how we have the right to do whatever we feel is in our best interest. If we don’t want to suffer; no problem. It wouldn’t even surprise me if suicide became part of health care “management” to assist those who no longer want to suffer.

Christ said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8.34) That includes suffering and especially NOT thinking of the self above all other relationships.

So why did I finally decide to blog about this? If you have any love for your family and friends, you will fight the temptation to characterize this suicide as anything other than what it really is; a tragic and cowardly expression of the loss of hope. It is NEVER brave to give up hope. Our hope is in Christ who conquered death for us, so that we might live with Him in a place where there is no pain, suffering or sighing, but life everlasting. Anything else is just simple selfishness.

Of course I would be remiss if I ended this post without reminding you the Church teaches that the state of our heart when we die is permanent. If we enter into death in a state of desperate hopelessness, THAT will our eternal condition. This is just one reason why the Church frowns upon suicide. We don’t what anyone to be eternally hopeless. That would be, and is already, hell.

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