I am not a medical doctor or professional counselor and am not offering professional advice on the issue of suicide and mental health. However, as a minister, I can encourage anyone who is considering suicide to seek help immediately. I can also encourage anyone who knows someone who is suffering emotionally or considering suicide to help them seek help now.
For years now, experts have warned of the so-called “deaths from despair,” describing the increased rates of mental illness, depression, and addictions among many population segments in our country. In addition to these, however, there’s another pre-existing condition that often goes unmentioned: American hyper-individualism.
About 400 ministry leaders filled a sold-out auditorium at the Billy Graham Center for GC2: Facing Hard Truths and Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, focused on the topics of leadership, burnout and mental health. Another 77 churches around the world live-streamed the event, according to Stetzer.
Six years ago, Sean Tagert of British Columbia was diagnosed with ALS, better known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
An ALS diagnosis is essentially a death sentence. There is no known cure. People with ALS eventually lose control over most of the muscles in their bodies–including the ones that enable them to breathe.
Despite his grim diagnosis, Tagert decided to live as long as he could for the sake of his son, who was six-years old at the time. For five years, he advocated on behalf of ALS patients and became a symbol of someone who refused to give up.
Then, last month, Tagert informed his friends he had decided to opt for physician-assisted suicide under Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying law.
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Abraham Kuyper and was repeated over and over by Chuck Colson: “There’s not a single square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry out: ‘Mine!’” Working out the implications of that grand truth in the reality of our everyday lives will take a lifetime.