Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. —1 Peter 5:7
Jarrid Wilson, a well-known church leader, author, and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening after openly blogging about his struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. Ironically, Wilson’s death came on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide rates have been increasing in the United States for the past ten years. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the suicide rate at one death every forty seconds. Some church leaders teach that suicide is an unforgivable sin. Suicide is mentioned the following six times in the Bible: 1. Abimelech (Judges 9:50–57); 2. Samson (Judges 16:28–30); 3. Saul (1 Samuel 31:1–6); 4. Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23); 5. Zimri (1 Kings 16:18–19); and 6. Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5). As indicated here, the Bible is silent on the subject of suicide as sin. Although it has been thought that the impetus of suicide is due to a lack of hope and purpose in life, Scripture is clear that believers have a living hope in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:3) and purpose in life (Romans 8:28). Furthermore, a recent LifeWay Research study found that 48% of evangelical Christians believe that mental illness can be cured by praying and reading the Bible (2013). Suicide, however, is a much deeper issue than a lack of hope and dreams; depression, anxiety, and mental illness often lead to suicide. In addition to praying, mental health illness requires professional help. The Well Church, as we mourn the death of another prominent Christian leader, let us remember that although suicide is not an unforgivable sin, and it is never the will of God, mental illness is real. Let us pray for those you know who are suffering from mental illness and encourage them to get the best medical help and personal support.