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TEENAGE SUICIDE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 17, 2002

 

"My soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loath it" (Job 7:15-16).


An average of one person every eighteen minutes commits suicide in the United States. Suicide is the eleventh ranking cause of death. Suicides among young people have increased dramatically nationwide in recent years. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14-year-olds. One young person between fifteen and twenty-four years old commits suicide every two hours and six minutes. Think of it! Suicide is the number three cause of death for those 15 to 24 years old!

I have personally known two people who committed suicide. I knew a woman who drank a glass of weed poison in her garage. She crawled around on the floor of the garage for over ten hours. When someone finally found her she was still alive. She died in the hospital. I conducted her funeral. It was a truly horrible experience. I could smell the weed poison seeping through the edges of her closed coffin. It seemed that I could smell it for days afterward. The second person was a classmate I had in high school. He shot himself in the mouth with a rifle. I had nightmares about these two suicides for months afterwards. Horrible!

Many young people who never actually kill themselves have thought about it. Psychiatrists tell us that many young people think about it and fantasize about it. Suicides among young people have increased greatly in the last few years. Since this is an increasing phenomenon, let us think about it in detail this morning.

I. First, why so many young people commit suicide today.

Young people commonly experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, and other problems and fears. Divorce, drug abuse and alcoholism break families apart and intensify feelings of insecurity and self-doubt in many young people. For some, suicide seems to be a solution.

Suicide claims the lives of more young people than any disease or natural cause. Young people now commit suicide at a higher rate than the national average of all ages. The rate of suicides for young men tripled between 1960 and 1980. Suicides among young women more than doubled in the same period - and it is increasing. One study estimated that there are 23 suicide attempts for every one that is completed. Ten percent of those who attempted suicide went on to actually do it.

All of us should know the warning signs, so we can help those who might try to kill themselves. These warning signs include,

1. Talking about suicide.

2. Talking a lot about death.

3. Changes in behavior.

4. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

5. Drug or alcohol abuse.

6. Taking excessive risks.

7. Loss of interest in usual activities.

8. Changes in weight or appetite.

9. Declining school performance.

10. Excessive talkativeness, rapid speech.

11. Frequent mood changes.

12. Signs of depression.

If someone talks about suicide, you should always take them seriously. Young people should listen to a suicidal friend, but then insist on getting the person to an adult who can help them.

A young person who is thinking about committing suicide may say things like, "I won't be a problem to you much longer." Or they may say, "Nothing matters. It's no use. I won't see you again," and things like that.

The main cause of suicide is deep depression. Many young people who will never commit suicide are deeply depressed about life. This has become increasingly common. The World Medical Association Statement on Adolescent Suicide says, Fifty years ago adolescents mostly died of natural causes. The past several decades have witnessed a dramatic change in causes of adolescent mortality. Part of this change has been a worldwide rise in adolescent suicide rates in both developed and developing countries (wma.net).

Depression and emotional isolation are given by the World Medical Association as the two leading causes of suicide by young people. Depression is very common among young people today. Depression is the feeling that everything is wrong and hopeless. That's the way Job felt when he said,

"My soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loath it [hate it]" (Job 7:15-16).

A series of terrible events led Job deep into depression. His children were all killed in horrible accidents. His possessions were all lost in another series of tragedies. Then he himself became very sick. His wife told him to "curse God, and die" (Job 2:9). It is understandable that Job became so heavily depressed that he felt life was no longer worth living.

I think there are many factors behind the rise of depression among young people today. For one thing, life itself is harder for you in many ways than it was for my generation. Oh, I know, you have much technology we didn't have, but you also have new tensions, fears and problems. It's very hard for a young person to make it in life today.

Then, there are family problems, such as divorce, alcoholism, drugs, and sexual abuse. These problems have skyrocketed, and make the homes of many young people literal hell-holes.

Also, there is so much movement today. Parents are constantly moving their children - moving, moving, moving. I don't think all that movement is good for you. You lose your friends each time you change or move. I think that having a group of stable friends is one of the most important things we as parents can give to young people. But many parents could care less whether you are happy or not, whether you are depressed or not. Put this down as one of the great truths of life: if you are always moving and changing, you will always be depressed and lonely. And many young people feel that and experience it emotionally.

Remember that the World Medical Association linked depression and social isolation as the two greatest reasons behind the strange increase of suicide among today's youth. Many of you feel as lonely and depressed as the Psalmist, when he said,

"I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top" (Psalm 102:6-7).

II. But, secondly, why suicide is a great mistake.

It may seem like an "easy answer," but it will cause far more problems than it will solve. You will be alive, feeling depressed, one moment - but you will be in Hell the next moment.

Jesus told of a certain rich man who died, "and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:23). One moment he was alive, the next moment he was in the flames of Hell. He was so lonely in Hell that he cried out for a beggar to come and give him a drink of water. But that wasn't possible. It was too late for him - forever.

I'm not going to pull any punches with you this morning. I'm not going to give you a waxy smile like Robert Schuller on TV, and a nice little story to make you laugh. No! No! I'm giving you what God says - right there, on the pages of your Bible. God gives warning after warning about Hell. And Jesus Christ gave more warnings and more sermons on Hell than any other person we read about in the Scriptures. And it was Jesus who told us that this man died - and then went immediately to Hell. The Bible says,

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

You go immediately into the judgment of Hell, the moment you die, if you are unconverted.

The Devil wants people to believe in reincarnation. Satan knows it isn't true, but he wants you to believe it - so he can snare you and send you to Hell! The Devil wants you to believe that you will have another life, reincarnated in another form. But the Bible exposes this lie of Satan,

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

You will only live once, and you will only die once. And the moment you die you will go into the judgment of Hell-fire, unless you are converted to Christ. That's exactly what happened to the man Jesus spoke about in Luke 16:22-23,

"The rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" (Luke 16:22-23).

If Satan can't get you to believe in reincarnation, he then tries another tactic. The Devil may then tell you that there is nothing after death. You die - and that's it. This makes many people think it's like going to sleep and not waking up. They get so depressed that they think, "It would be better just to go to sleep and not wake up." The Devil tells them that - and they believe it. No wonder they commit suicide!

But they will find that Jesus was right when He said that the Devil "is a liar" (John 8:44). Too late! They will die and wake up immediately in the fire of Hell! They will be thrown

"…into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:42).

I know there are soft "Bible teachers" who will disagree with me saying that. They believe it is kind to speak softly and not mention Hell. Robert Schuller, that man with the waxy smile on TV, brags that he hasn't spoken on Hell for forty years, because he gives a "positive message." How much wiser he must think he is than Jesus Christ, who spoke so sharply and so often on the subject of Hell! I say, we need less of Schuller and more of Christ! We need to hear what Jesus said - and the warnings He gave us!

Now, Job was very depressed. He had lost everything. His depression was so great that he said

"My soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loath it" (Job 7:15-16).

But Job did not commit suicide. He lived through his depression and went on to live a better life. And that leads me to the last point of this sermon.

III. How you can overcome depression and loneliness.

Depression and social isolation (or loneliness) are the two greatest causes of suicide. Every young person ought to find out how to overcome them. The simplest answer is this: Why be depressed and lonely? Come home - to church! And come all the way to Jesus Christ - the Son of God!

Job felt terribly depressed, but instead of committing suicide he

"fell down upon the ground, and worshipped" (Job 1:20).

Then Job said,

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God"
      (Job 19:25-26).

Job believed in God. Job believed in the Second Coming of Christ, and the resurrection of the dead. Job's faith brought him through his depression to a better day! You can have that kind of faith too! Come home to church! Come all the way to Christ! Experience conversion! Christ will give you the faith to make it through the trials and disappointments of life!

Before I preached this sermon, Dr. Chan read a passage of Scripture from the sixteenth chapter of Acts. That section of Scripture tells about Paul and Silas being put in prison for preaching the Gospel. They were chained and their feet locked up in the stocks. But an earthquake came and the walls of the prison broke open. The jailor was afraid that they had escaped. He would have been put to death by the Romans if that happened. He pulled out his sword and was about to commit suicide.

"But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas…and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…"
      (Acts 16:28-31).

The jailor did just what they told him. Right there, in the middle of the night, the man believed on Jesus and was converted! His family came out of the house and listened to the gospel. They too trusted Christ and were saved!

"And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house" (Acts 16:34).

What could have resulted in a suicide turned out to be a happy party - of joyful Christians - in the middle of the night! Hallelujah! That's what it's all about! Why be lonely and depressed - and lost? Come home - to church! Come home - to Christ! He has risen from the dead! Hallelujah! He is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven! Praise God! Come to Christ and be washed from your sins! Come to Christ and be saved!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives!
     ("Because He Lives" by William and Gloria Gaither)


(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 16:25-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Because He Lives"

(by William and Gloria Gaither)

THE OUTLINE OF

TEENAGE SUICIDE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"My soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. I loath it" (Job 7:15-16).

I.   Why so many young people commit suicide today, Job 2:9;
Psalm 102:6-7.

II.  Why suicide is a great mistake, Luke 16:23; Hebrews 9:27;
Luke 16:22-23; John 8:44; Matthew 13:42.

III. How you can overcome depression and loneliness, Job 1:20;
Job 19:25-26; Acts 16:28-31; Acts 16:34.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."