Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church
David Murray, an unusually wise teacher and the author of Christians Get Depressed Too, addresses 7 Questions about Suicide and Christians. He writes, “As well-publicized suicides tend to increase the suicide rate quite dramatically, I thought it would be good to address seven of the questions that arise in our minds at times like this.” Here are the seven questions he answers:
- How common is suicide?
- How do I know if someone is thinking about suicide?
- What should I do if I’m worried someone I know is going to commit suicide?
- Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?
- Who is to blame?
- What if I’m thinking of suicide myself?
- What can the church do to prevent suicide?
See also Ed Welch’s wise counsel on how to answer the question, “Do People Who Commit Suicide Go to Heaven?”
Here is a sermon by John Piper (2007) for a young member of his church, the son of an elder, who committed suicide after a long struggle with depression.
Michael Patton writes an incredibly painful post about Matthew Warren, with no easy answers, about the torture of those who cannot clearly see the light and suffer the asphyxiation of hope.
Ed Stetzer has a piece at CNN’s religion blog on mental illness and the church, arguing the following points:
- There are people in the pews every week—ministers, too—struggling with mental illness or depression.
- People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.
- Christians need to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness.
- Compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.
- Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs. It can impact anyone.
Here are some resources on battling depression and ministering to those who do:
- David Murray, Christians Get Depressed Too
- Edward T. Welch, Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness
- Edward T. Welch, Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down (booklet)
- Jeffrey Black, Suicide: Understanding and Intervening (booklet)
- John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God—and Joy
- John Piper, “Battling the Unbelief of Despondency” (sermon)
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure
- “Depression and the Ministry” (blog series by the Biblical Counseling Coalition and the Gospel Coalition)
For those in ministry, the writings by and about Charles Spurgeon on depression may be particularly valuable:
- Charles Spurgeon, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” in Lectures to My Students
- Darrel W. Amundsen, “The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon“
- Zack Eswine, “Listening for the Sound of Reality: The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Haddon Spurgeon“
- John Piper, “Charles Spurgeon: Preaching through Adversity“
- Randy Alcorn on how Spurgeon’s writings on depression helped him go through his own depression in 2007 (part 1, part 2, part 3)