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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, November 4, 2007

“He drew out his sword, and would have killed himself”
(Acts 16:27).

Paul and Silas were beaten with rods. Then they were put in jail, chained to the walls of the prison. But at midnight there was a great earthquake. The doors of the prison flew open. The walls crumbled and the prisoners’ chains came loose. Paul and Silas were free!

Dragging himself out of bed, the young jailer saw that the doors of the jail were now open. He thought the prisoners had already escaped. For a Roman jailer there could have been no greater dishonor. Fearing the disgrace of a public trial, and execution for letting the prisoners escape, the young jailer instantly decided to commit suicide.

Suicide! What a blood-curdling word! What a hideous way to end one’s life! I have known personally two people who killed themselves. One was a woman who drank poison and died a horrible, slow death. The other was one of my classmates in high school. He shot himself in the mouth with a gun. I had nightmares about those two suicides for months afterwards. Horrible!

Many young people commit suicide today. Many others, who don’t actually kill themselves, fantasize about it and plan to do it. Suicides among young people have increased at an alarming rate in the past few months. Since the statistics show that it is increasing so rapidly, let’s think about suicide in detail this morning – especially the frightening increase of suicides among young people in our society. I will ask three questions about suicides among the young, and attempt to answer them.

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

A recent article in the California Southern Baptist paper said,

Youth suicide climbs at an alarming rate. The number of youths who take their own lives increased by 8 percent in a period of one year…A Center for Disease Control survey found that 17 percent of high school students said they’d seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months (Nashville, Baptist Press, in the California Southern Baptist, November, 2007, page 3).

Young people commonly experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, and other fears. Many problems in our culture intensify feelings of insecurity and self-doubt in young people today. For many, 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 – 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 commit suicide. 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.

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.

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.

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 (

Depression and emotional isolation (loneliness) are given by the World Medical Association as the two leading causes of suicide by today's youth. Depression is very common among young people. 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 into deep depression. His children were killed in horrible accidents. All his possessions were lost in another series of tragedies. Then he 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 that 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. Many Asian young people come from homes where their parents don’t understand them. The parents were born in the Orient, but their American-born children have a different background. This causes enormous tension for Asian young people in America. They often ask themselves, “Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?”

Also, there is a great deal of movement today. Parents often move their children – moving, moving, moving. I don’t think all that movement is good. 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 alarming increase of suicide among today’s youth. Many of you feel as lonely and depressed as the Psalmist, when he said,

“I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top”
      (Psalm 102:7).

II. Second, why is suicide a horrible mistake?

It may seem like an “easy answer,” but it will cause far more problems than it solves. You will be alive, feeling depressed, at one moment – but you will be in Hell the next moment. Then your depression will be eternal.

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 those TV preachers, 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. 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 that lie when it says,

“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. He may 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 lie – 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 wake up and find that they have been cast

“…into a furnace of fire: [where] there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).

I know there are soft “Bible teachers” who will disagree with me for saying that. They believe it is “kind” to speak softly and not mention Hell. TV preachers like Joel Osteen and Robert Schuller never warn people about Hell. They give what they call a “positive message.” They must think they are wiser than Christ, who spoke so sharply and so often on the subject of Hell! I say, we need less of these TV preachers and more of Christ! We need to hear what Jesus said – and the warnings He gave us!

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. By God’s grace he came through his depression and went on to live a better life. And that leads me to the last point of this sermon.

III. Third, how can you overcome depression and loneliness?

Depression and 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! Come home to Jesus, and He will save you from sin and Hell!

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. He believed that his Redeemer was alive, and that He would come down from Heaven at the end of history. Job’s faith in the pre-incarnate Christ 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!

Just before I preached this sermon Dr. Chan read a passage of Scripture from the sixteenth chapter of Acts. That section of the Bible 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 jailer was afraid that they had escaped. He would have been shamed and executed by the Romans if that happened. He was about to commit suicide.

“He drew out his sword, and would have killed himself…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 brought them out, 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 16:27-31).

The jailer did just what they told him. Right there, in the middle of the night, the man received Christ and was converted!

“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, newly converted Christians – in the middle of the night! Praise God! 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! He is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven! Come to Christ and be washed clean from your sins by His Blood! Then you’ll be able to say,

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).

Come to Jesus!  He will receive you!  Come to Jesus!  He will wash away every sin with His Blood!  Come to Jesus!  Come to Jesus!  Come to Jesus, the Son of God!

You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

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 Bill Gaither [1936 - ] and Gloria Gaither [1942 - ]).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He drew out his sword, and would have killed himself”
(Acts 16:27).

I.   First, why do so many young people commit suicide today?
Job 7:15-16; Job 2:9; Psalm 102:7.

II.  Second, why is suicide a horrible mistake? Luke 16:23;
Hebrews 9:27; Luke 16:22-23; John 8:44; Matthew 13:42;
Job 7:15-16.

III. Third, how can you overcome depression and loneliness?
Job 1:20; 19:25-26; Acts 16:27-31, 34