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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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The final evening of Jack Chen’s life was indistinguishable from many others. The sophomore returned home from school, ate dinner with his mother and retired to his room. His mother asked him to turn out his light at midnight.
Inside his bedroom, anguish gnawed at him, a darkness invisible to friends and family: He maintained a 4.3 grade-point average at one of the area’s top high schools, was a captain of the junior varsity football team and had never tried drugs or alcohol.
But that hidden pain drove Jack from his Fairfax Station home early the next morning — Wednesday, Feb. 26. The 15-year-old, who pestered his father to quit smoking and wear his safety belt, walked to nearby tracks and stepped between the rails as a commuter train approached.
His death is one of six apparent suicides at Fairfax’s W.T. Woodson High School during the past three years, including another student found dead the next day. The toll has left the school community reeling and prompted an urgent question: Why would so many teens from a single suburban school take their lives?
Read it all from the Washington Post.
Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church grew out of private conversations Warren had with the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, after his son's death and his own writings in his journal as he processed his grief. Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide last April after struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years.
"I'm certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain," Warren said Monday as he met with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. "I remember writing in my journal that in God's garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Mental Illness Suicide Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania freshman, died in Philadelphia Friday night in what police called an apparent suicide. Her father later said her death was linked to the “stress” of keeping good grades at her Ivy League school.
According to NorthJersey.com, Holleran jumped off the roof of a parking garage Friday night. Just an hour earlier, the Allendale, N.J., native reportedly posted a photo of the lights at Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia on her Instagram account.
Holleran was a soccer and track star in her hometown at Northern Highlands Regional High School and called a “perfectionist” by her father, Jim Holleran. He also said she had “grown depressed” while adjusting to college life away from home.
Read it all.
At some point before 35-year-old Jesse Ryan Loskarn hanged himself in his parents’ home outside Baltimore, he wrote a painful letter soaked in shame and self-loathing in which he attempted to explain the unexplainable.
The former chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had lived a secret life, hiding memories of child abuse and his addiction to child pornography. Even as U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents used a battering ram to enter his house, it appeared that he was trying to hide an external hard drive - containing hundreds of videos - on a ledge outside a window.
“Everyone wants to know why,” he wrote, in a Jan. 23 letter posted online by Gay Loskarn, his mother.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Law & Legal Issues Pornography Psychology Suicide Science & Technology * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Tallulah, an aspiring dancer from West Hampstead in London, threw herself under a train at St Pancras Station on October 14, 2012. Her mother said she had been unable to prevent the troubled teenager from becoming increasingly withdrawn at home and at school, as she developed a fantasy cocaine-taking persona online.
Ms Wilson said: “Like any parent I sought to protect my daughter, seeking help from professionals at her school, the NHS and the Tavistock Clinic. Her sisters and I did everything we could to keep her safe, but she had fallen into a world of nightmares. She was in the c lutches of a toxic digital world where in the final few weeks we could no longer reach her.
“I was shocked by the ease with which Tallulah and other children can access online self-harm and suicide blogs. Tallulah entered a world where the lines between fantasy and reality became blurred. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.”
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Children Education Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide Science & Technology Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"We found out today that Isaac took his life," says the email sent by Darling Murray, a coordinator at Summit Church in Orlando. "We are obviously deeply deeply devastated and saddened beyond words by this news. The tears keep coming and coming as we mourn. We are praying for his family and this congregation as we walk through this together."
Officials of Northland, a Church Distributed, said they are still awaiting the police report on Isaac Hunter's death, but the church confirmed his death in a statement posted on the Northland website.
"By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky's son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we're feeling," said the statement by Vernon Rainwater, a Northland pastor. "We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this ... Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Every 14 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. Every 15 minutes, someone is left to make sense of it. Survivors of Suicide Day is a time of hope, healing, and support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Take the time to watch the video.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Samaritans was started in 1953 in London by a young vicar named Chad Varah, then incumbent of St Stephen Walbrook. Through his work in a number of different parishes in the City he had seen the range and extent of the distress experienced by people everywhere, every day. During his career he had offered counselling to his parishioners, and he increasingly wanted to do something specific to help people in distress who had no one to turn to. He makes reference to one example of a girl aged 14, whom he had buried - in unconsecrated ground. She had started her periods, but having no one to talk to believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease and took her own life.
He says, "I might have dedicated myself to suicide prevention then and there, providing a network of people you could 'ask' about anything, however embarrassing, but I didn't come to that until later".
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture
In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."
Read it all
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Mental Illness Suicide Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
In jumping, Rebecca [Ann Sedwick] became one of the youngest members of a growing list of children and teenagers apparently driven to suicide, at least in part, after being maligned, threatened and taunted online, mostly through a new collection of texting and photo-sharing cellphone applications. Her suicide raises new questions about the proliferation and popularity of these applications and Web sites among children and the ability of parents to keep up with their children’s online relationships.
For more than a year, Rebecca, pretty and smart, was cyberbullied by a coterie of 15 middle-school children who urged her to kill herself, her mother said. The Polk County sheriff’s office is investigating the role of cyberbullying in the suicide and considering filing charges against the middle-school students who apparently barraged Rebecca with hostile text messages. Florida passed a law this year making it easier to bring felony charges in online bullying cases.
Rebecca was “absolutely terrorized on social media,” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said at a news conference this week.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Suicide Science & Technology Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all.
High-profile pastors have long complained (along with other celebrities) of impersonators on social media. But Rick Warren recently revealed just how widespread the problem is.
Warren announced Tuesday that in the months since his son Matthew's suicide, more than 200 fake Facebook pages have popped up, soliciting funds in Matthew's memory. So far, he has succeeded in shutting down 179 of them, which he said were "making money on my son's death."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Media Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Why? Although the evidence is inconclusive, most point to the failing economy and its social and psychological consequences: weakening bonds of family and friendship, damaged self-esteem and the shattered hopes of the unemployed. In a year that has already shown the destructive force of firearms, guns are the handiest means for committing suicide. While suicide is generally associated with teenagers and the elderly, since 1999 the rate among those between 35 and 64 rose by nearly 30 percent in the United States, especially among men in their 50s.
Read it all.
[On May 21 Dominique] Venner, a conservative ultra-nationalist who as a young man had been jailed for violence against Communists, was 78, ailing, and had come to the extreme conclusion that French civilisation was dying and being replaced by an ''Afro-Maghreb culture'' and would give way to sharia law. The former colonies were overrunning the republic. In his final message before leaving for the cathedral, he wrote on his internet blog: ''Peaceful street protests will not be enough to prevent it … It will require new, spectacular, and symbolic gestures to wake up the sleepwalkers, to shake the slumbering consciousness and to remind us of our origins … and rouse people from their complacency … We are entering a time when words must be backed up … by new, spectacular and symbolic actions.''
He had his own spectacular symbolic action in mind. His timing was prompted by the passage, the week before, of a law legalising gay marriage in France. Venner regarded this as a key element in the dismantling of French culture. He also regarded the immigration of millions of Muslims as a demographic and cultural disaster for France. And he saw white French culture as being overwhelmed by Americanism.
Venner predicted current social trends would lead to a ''total replacement of the population of France, and of Europe''....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe France * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
Of the crises facing American troops today, suicide ranks among the most emotionally wrenching — and baffling. Over the course of nearly 12 years and two wars, suicide among active-duty troops has risen steadily, hitting a record of 350 in 2012. That total was twice as many as a decade before and surpassed not only the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan but also the number who died in transportation accidents last year.
Even with the withdrawal from Iraq and the pullback in Afghanistan, the rate of suicide within the military has continued to rise significantly faster than within the general population, where it is also rising. In 2002, the military’s suicide rate was 10.3 per 100,000 troops, well below the comparable civilian rate. But today the rates are nearly the same, above 18 per 100,000 people.
And according to some experts, the military may be undercounting the problem because of the way it calculates its suicide rate.
Read it all.
The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, will present a bill to the House of Lords next week which would introduce a system similar to that in place in the US state of Oregon.
It would allow doctors to provide a fatal dose of drugs to patients judged to have less than six months to live....The bill, which will be tabled on May 15, is based on the conclusions of Lord Falconer’s Commission on Assisted Dying, a group of peers and academics which held hearings in the style of a royal commission.
The Commission was dismissed by critics, including the Church of England, as a “self appointed” group of euthanasia supporters.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
When the news broke that her father was about to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Katharine Welby found herself in floods of tears.
“I ended up crying and crying,” she says, but not because she didn’t want her dad to get the job....
Her weeping was caused by depression. The illness is “a constant struggle” in her life and creates moments of crisis in which she wants to “run away and hide in a hole”. In the past, it has brought her to the brink of suicide.
Read it all.
A new poll finds overwhelming support for assisted suicide for the terminally ill among Anglicans, Catholics, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews in Britain, with Baptists and Muslims the only groups that oppose changes to British law, which currently prohibits assisted suicide.
But Britons are debating the topic intensely.
More than seven in 10 (72 percent) members of the established Church of England and 56 percent of Roman Catholics support assisted suicide for the terminally ill, the survey shows.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Life Ethics Psychology Suicide * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Pastor Rick Warren will join Ed Stetzer on his webshow, "The Exchange," Tuesday afternoon to talk about his 27-year-old son's suicide earlier this month.
Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, will host The Exchange live from the Exponential church planting conference in Orlando, Fla., where Warren had been scheduled to lead two Bible studies.
Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, Calif., agreed to an interview with Stetzer about what pastors need to know about grief in their congregations, how his son's death has changed him and what church leaders can do to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Children Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Each suicide leaves behind on average six to ten survivors – husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, other close friends or family members. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people, including many of our church members, will grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide.
I am one of those people. Some years ago, my father had a stroke that left him partially debilitated. Though he began rehabilitation, one of the side effects of the stroke was clinical depression. He lost all hope and eventually sank into despair. He couldn't see any reason to go on. Three months after the stroke, at age 58, he killed himself.
Though all deaths are tragic, suicide affects us differently than when someone dies in car accident or from a terminal illness. Counselors call death by suicide a "complicated grief" or "complicated bereavement," like death by murder or terrorist attack. Not only do family members grieve the loss of the loved one, they must also face the trauma of the suicide.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
Army Pvt. John Jeffery stumbled into Kyle Boswell's barracks room at Ft. Bliss before dawn one day in February, his eyes glassy.
"I've done something," Jeffery mumbled to his buddy. "I can't tell anyone. It's going to happen."
He had just learned his girlfriend was cheating on him. The Army had decided to kick him out for using heroin. Now the 21-year-old veteran of Afghanistan had downed more than two bottles of Vicodin and Oxycodone, powerful prescription painkillers. Boswell rushed him to the emergency room, and he remains in the hospital psychiatric ward.
The case is a success of sorts — a soldier treated, a suicide prevented — and it reflects an encouraging shift at Ft. Bliss....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Stress Suicide * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Take the time to listen to it all (and note there is a live excerpt of the Kenyon Commencement address).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Poetry & Literature Psychology Mental Illness Suicide * Theology Anthropology
I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them.
At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word.
There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel.
God is with us.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Christology Pastoral Theology
To my dear staff,
Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.
No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.
You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.
But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.
Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said “ Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.
Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren asked members of his Southern California church for prayers as he and his family coped with the apparent suicide of his 27-year-old son.
The church said on Saturday that Matthew Warren took his own life at his Mission Viejo home.
Matthew Warren struggled with mental illness, deep depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his life, Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement, after his body was found Friday night.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
As Kelly McGuire points out in Dying To Be English: Suicide narratives and national identity, 1721–1814, the word has a vexed history. Deploying a pronoun as a prefix in order to describe both an action and a person (a person who is at once victim and perpetrator), it is something of a botched job. The convolutions and impenetrability of the term seem appropriate to a deed which many understand as the consummate rejection – of life, family and community, as of social and religious obligations – although one lesson of all the books under review is that suicides themselves, actual and imagined, tend not to see it that way. Many of the ballads reproduced in The History of Suicide in England, 1650–1850 depict lovers killing themselves in the confident hope of forgiveness and a place in heaven, as of avoiding shame and misery on earth. And even the most hard-line of religious commentators will hesitate to condemn all suicides to hell: as the Calvinist preacher Thomas Beard wrote in 1631, “the mercie of God is incomprehensible”. Overall, there is much evidence of what John Donne called “a perplexitie and flexibilitie in the doctrine” of suicide.
Gradually replacing more overtly judgemental epithets such as “self-murder”, “suicide” became a familiar word in England in the later eighteenth century. Perhaps the availability of a neutral form of language influenced how people thought about voluntary death; there is a relic of the older way of describing it in current references to “self-harm”. It is sometimes argued that apparently more tolerant and sympathetic attitudes to suicide, as to other infractions of the moral law, developed in the eighteenth century as the result of a progressive secularization. But religious as well as civil sanctions against the act persisted, in Britain and in the American colonies – only in Pennsylvania was voluntary death not criminalized – and those official sanctions are not incompatible with sympathy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books History Psychology Suicide * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK
On Christmas Eve, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny paid a graveside tribute to an ally who helped bring him to power amid the worst economic crisis in Ireland’s modern history.
Shane McEntee was a “true friend and confidante, who listened to other people’s problems and made them his own,” Kenny said in his speech, after 3,000 people attended the funeral of the food minister. Three days earlier, McEntee had taken his own life. He was 56 with four children.
While financial hardship has led to a spate of suicides in parts of austerity-hit Europe, the deaths of McEntee and the son of well-known restaurant owners less than a week later have turned the national spotlight onto the issue in Ireland.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
Most adolescents who plan or attempt suicide have already received at least some mental health treatment, raising questions about the effectiveness of current approaches to helping troubled youths, according to the largest in-depth analysis to date of suicidal behaviors in American teenagers.
The study, in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that 55 percent of suicidal teenagers had received some therapy before they thought about suicide, planned it or tried to kill themselves, contradicting the widely held belief that suicide is due in part to a lack of access to treatment.
The findings, based on interviews with a nationwide sample of more than 6,000 teenagers and at least one parent of each, linked suicidal behavior to complex combinations of mood disorders like depression and behavior problems like attention-deficit and eating disorders, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine History Psychology Suicide Science & Technology Teens / Youth * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy. We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted."You may also read more there.
I was not expected to live, let alone return to work, yet I did both these things. Now finally I have retired from being a doctor, after a six-month hospital spell when I had a relapse of my condition. But as I slowly became well again, I knew increasing freedom in God my Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now it is time for a different sort of life; one to tell the world: "There is no despair that has absolutely no hope." The tragedy of suicide must be prevented and we, as Christians, can be frontrunners in the race. I had family and friends, but some sufferers with suicidal thoughts and ideas are alone and isolated. Not everyone is ill, some are just in total despair but all need to know that there are people around who care.
Our goal is to accept people however they are and provide them with hope - well or sick, able-bodied or disabled, mentally well or mentally ill, Christians or non-Christians. This is our mission as we know God's love, to love one another and to love the world as He does.
Read it all.
When writer David Foster Wallace committed suicide in 2008 at the age of 46, U.S. literature lost one of its most influential living writers.
The definitive account of Wallace's life and what led to his suicide was published in the New Yorker in March of the following year.
Now D.T. Max, who wrote that article, has written a new a biography of Wallace, Every Love Story is a Ghost Story. It's a deeply researched look into the life and work of a writer who was called the voice of his generation. Max spoke to Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.
Read (or better listen to) it all.
"Top Gun" director Tony Scott jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro on Sunday afternoon. He was 68.
His body was pulled out of the water by Los Angeles Port Police, who were the first on the scene.
Several witnesses told police they saw Scott get out of his Toyota Prius, which was parked on the bridge, about 12:30 p.m. Then he scaled an 8- to 10-foot fence and jumped off without any hesitation, law enforcement sources said.
Read it all.
Soldiers killed themselves at a rate faster than one per day in July, the Army announced Thursday. There were 38 deaths either confirmed or suspected as suicides, the highest one-month tally in recent Army history, the service said.
The Army suicide pace this year is surpassing last year, particularly among active-duty soldiers where there is a 22% increase — 116 deaths so far this year vs. 95 during the same seven months last year, according to Army data.
The current Army suicide rate seven months into this year is 29 deaths-per-100,000, far surpassing last year's rate of about 23 deaths-per-100,000, says Bruce Shahbaz, an Army analyst. Those rates compare with a 2009 civilian rate — the latest available data — of 18.5 for a demographically similar population.
Read it all.
In Greece, which is in its fifth year of recession, such suicides have sparked violent clashes between police and those opposing austerity who have held the victims up as martyrs. In Italy, widows of businessmen who have committed suicide — such as builder Giuseppe Campaniello, who set himself on fire outside a government tax office in Bologna on March 28 after his company collapsed — have held demonstrations. And in Ireland, where citizens are jumping off quays in Dublin, Cork and Limerick in alarming numbers, the mobile telephone company Vodaphone volunteered to give up the stadium advertising space it bought at soccer and hurling games for a suicide prevention campaign.
So many people have been killing themselves and leaving behind notes citing financial hardship that European media outlets have a special name for them: “economic suicides.” Surveys are also showing increasing signs of mental stress: a jump in the use of antidepressants and illicit drugs, a rise in depression and anxiety among workers worried about salary cuts or being laid off, and an increase in the use of sick leave due to psychological problems.
“People are more and more uncertain about their future, which is leading to a sharp rise in mental health problems,” said Maria Nyman, director of Brussels-based Mental Health Europe, a multinational coalition of mental health organizations and educational institutions.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Stress Suicide * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Credit Markets Currency Markets Euro European Central Bank The Banking System/Sector The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- * International News & Commentary Europe --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010
Al Kimel was at one time the rector of Holy Communion, Charleston, in the diocese of South Carolina.
In case you may not be aware Father Kimel and his wife Christine have four children: Alvin, Aaron, Bredon, and Taryn. Aaron died this week of suicide at the age of 32.
I am posting this so people will be aware and support this family this weekend (especially tomorrow) with their prayers. I have checked with several people and the family wishes people to be aware.
(For more information on Father Kimel, please see this previous post about his decision last year to join the Orthodox Church [note that one of the links in that post contains a picture which includes Aaron]).
Because of the subject matter involved, I will only take comments on this post which are submitted by email to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com--KSH.
Police say no suicide note was left behind by football star Junior Seau, who was found dead Wednesday in his Oceanside home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest.
Though few details were available, police confirmed no suicide note was left behind, no foul play was suspected and his girlfriend discovered his body in bed Wednesday morning when she returned from the gym.
Later in the day, as police walked in and out of Seau's beachfront home, his family members could be seen huddling in the garage, weeping. Earlier, his mother appeared distraught.
Read it all.
On Monday, a 38-year-old geology lecturer hanged himself from a lamp post in Athens and on the same day a 35-year-old priest jumped to his death off his balcony in northern Greece. On Wednesday, a 23-year-old student shot himself in the head.
In a country that has had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, a surge in the number of suicides in the wake of an economic crisis has shocked and gripped the Mediterranean nation - and its media - before a May 6 election.
Read it all.
Last weekend, the ballyhooed documentary Bully opened in Dallas. A few weeks earlier, a less elaborate film on the same topic premiered in every third-period classroom at Richardson High School.
The school video tells a secret kept for 20 years — about a desperately unhappy teen and one night with a pistol. It’s a secret that has inspired some students to reach outside themselves in ways they might have never considered.
While experts say any one event is just a drop in the bucket in the effort to mold a school’s culture, there’s some evidence that this kind of video may be a larger drop.
Read it all.
For most of his 26 years in the military, Maj. Jeff Hackett was a standout Marine. Two tours in Iraq destroyed him.
Home from combat, he drank too much, suffered public breakdowns and was hospitalized for panic attacks. In June 2010, he killed himself.
Hackett’s suicide deeply troubled Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps. Hackett had been plucked from the enlisted ranks to lead Marines as an officer. He left behind a widow, four sons and more than $460,000 in debts. To Amos, Hackett was a casualty of war — surely the family deserved some compensation from the federal government....
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Suicide spreads when people feel authorised to opt for it and when they have lost the will to remain alive. The second part is less important than the first part.
Most people wish they were dead at some time or other in their lives. It is the culture of authorisation that translates a possibly temporary indifference to life into a decisive and final action which can be a key factor in the spread of suicide.
The more people hear of suicides, the more suicides will follow.
And the emotive, non-judgmental, godless culture that has emerged in recent years rules out the use of taboo as a social influence on society generally.
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"Headline: Prosecutors clear way for assisted suicides..."
Check it out.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Life Ethics Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
A former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said that the BBC had some “hard questions to address”, after broadcasting the programme. “Its own guidelines state that the portrayal of suicide has the potential to make this appear possible, and even appropriate, to the vulnerable.” He also argued that “the BBC has an obligation to provide a balanced presentation of the moral issues of the day,” but “so far, there has been little evidence of such balance in this matter.”
In a statement, the BBC said that it acknowledged that suicide was “an exceptionally difficult issue”, which “should be portrayed with the utmost sensitivity”. It argued that there was “a clear editorial justification” to broadcast the programme, which “does not encourage suicide and does not breach BBC guidelines.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Life Ethics Movies & Television Psychology Suicide * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe Switzerland
The Bishop of Exeter the Rt Revd Michael Langrish took part in a BBC2 Newsnight debate on Monday June 13 following the BBC programme 'Choosing to Die' presented by Sir Terry Pratchett. His main comments from the debate are below:
"I did not change my mind (after seeing the programme) but my expectations changed. I expected I would disagree with the outcome and expected to welcome the film as a contribution to a really important debate but the more I watched it the more concerned and indeed disturbed I became by it. It was very one-sided, a nod to hospice care but no showing the alternative ending, no indication that the two principals Peter and Andrew needn't have been living the life they were leading and right at the end I questioned the whole ethical basis of programme. I felt that Peter and indeed his wife and perhaps Terry Pratchett as well had been caught up and become trapped in the storyline of programme. I felt there was a deeply coercive atmosphere in room in the end and I felt quite emotionally blackmailed by it."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I am instinctually in favour of assisted suicide. But the programme left me feeling uncomfortable. I have no time for the religious argument. And yet, I hesitate to fully sign up for the cause – simply because I wanted to die once, and have been enormously relieved that I never did anything about it.
Admittedly I was suffering mental rather than physical illness – in my case acute depression. I had been suffering agony for four years and saw no end in sight. But with hindsight it is plain to me that you can be very serious about your wanting to die, having taken all matters into account – and most of those around me thought I was absolutely in my right mind – then later discover that you very nearly made a literally fatal mistake....
The "thin edge of the wedge" argument is somewhat convincing. Once assisted suicide is established in law, how long before the patient and their relatives decide how serious the illness has to be before the decision is taken, rather than doctors?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Life Ethics Psychology Suicide * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Mr. [John] Garcia survived two of the most dreadful fires any New York City firefighter has ever faced — the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, and the fire at the 41-story former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged on 9/11 and was being dismantled. Mr. Garcia was on a hose line alongside the two firefighters who died in the Deutsche Bank fire — Firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino — and as a lieutenant and the officer on duty for Ladder 5, he was their immediate superior.
In the months and years following the Deutsche Bank fire, Mr. Garcia struggled to cope with the deaths of the two men. He told friends that he felt responsible, and by the time he retired in July 2009, he was found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“One of the toughest things is when an officer loses a firefighter who’s under him,” said Frank McCutchen, 53, a retired firefighter and friend of Mr. Garcia’s who worked with him at Engine 24 and Ladder 5 in SoHo. “There’s nothing worse on the job. It’s like a parent losing a kid. You can’t get in his head to say, ‘Hey, it’s not your fault.’ ”
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Just as she was preparing to mail out information to the first group of Anglican participants taking an online suicide prevention course, Cynthia Patterson received a letter from a parishioner in an indigenous community in Eastern James Bay, Ont. A 15-year-old girl had hanged herself in her grandparents’ basement.
To Patterson, appointed coordinator of the Council of the North’s suicide prevention program in 2009, this only served to underscore the urgency of addressing the high incidence of suicide among the country’s aboriginal people.
This spring, about 20 ordained and lay, aboriginal and non-aboriginal volunteers from the diocese of Moosonee took part in “River of Life,” an online suicide awareness and prevention course developed by the Calgary-based Center for Suicide Prevention. Volunteers from the diocese of Keewatin are to follow next.
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For many old people — long before they become mortally ill — that prolonged dwindling is a worsening nightmare: a time of maltreatment in geriatric wards, lying on their bedsores in urine and excrement, of dependence on indifferent foreign minders in expensive care homes, a period of painful confusion, feeling ignored, unwanted and lonely. In a less rich society, such things will become more common.
Given all this, the taboo against suicide or assisted suicide seems incomprehensible. Religious people may think it wrong, although I have never quite understood why. It seems odd to me that they are not eager to meet their maker as soon as possible, if heaven is so devoutly to be desired. Perhaps it is different if one’s religion teaches that one might after death come back as a toad.
But, believers apart, for everyone else there is no philosophical reason against suicide that I can see. The usual slippery slope argument is purely emotional: we are all already on the slippery slope as far as any moral decisions go and constantly have to choose between two evils.
Read it all from the Sunday [London] Times (subscription required).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Health & Medicine Life Ethics Psychology Suicide Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The words came up on Alicia Duerson’s cellphone as blithely as text messages typically do, but this one was different: her former husband, the former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson, asked her to donate his brain for research.
She texted back and heard nothing, then called their son, Tregg, who was just ending his workday as a bank analyst in Chicago. They called again and got voice mail.
The next and last message they received from Dave Duerson was meant for them, their family and perhaps all of professional football. It was written in his hurried hand, repeating his text message in case it had not been received, and found in the South Florida condominium where he placed a gun to his chest and shot himself to death last Thursday.
“Please, see that my brain is given to the N.F.L.’s brain bank.”
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Football’s ramifications so concerned the former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson that, after deciding to kill himself last Thursday, he shot himself in the chest, apparently so that his brain could remain intact for similar examination.
This intent, strongly implied by text messages Duerson sent to family members soon before his death, has injected a new degree of fear in the minds of many football players and their families, according to interviews with them Sunday. To this point, the roughly 20 N.F.L. veterans found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy — several of whom committed suicide — died unaware of the disease clawing at their brains, how the protein deposits and damaged neurons contributed to their condition.
Duerson, 50, was the first player to die after implying that brain trauma experienced on the football field would be partly responsible for his death.
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Rushing a student to a psychiatric emergency room is never routine, but when Stony Brook University logged three trips in three days, it did not surprise Jenny Hwang, the director of counseling.
It was deep into the fall semester, a time of mounting stress with finals looming and the holiday break not far off, an anxiety all its own.
On a Thursday afternoon, a freshman who had been scraping bottom academically posted thoughts about suicide on Facebook. If I were gone, he wrote, would anybody notice? An alarmed student told staff members in the dorm, who called Dr. Hwang after hours, who contacted the campus police. Officers escorted the student to the county psychiatric hospital.
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The father of the Academic Magnet High School student who set himself on fire near the school's front entrance this week said his son "was struck with a despair so dark that he could not see beyond it, in spite of the love, support and counseling he received."
Trace Williams appeared briefly before news media Friday to explain his son Aaron's death. Reading from a prepared statement, and citing a letter written by the 16-year-old before his death, Williams said the self- immolation was an attempt "to reach out to as many hearts as possible and to emphasize the importance of living lives of love and compassion."
He said his son's lifelong ambition was to be a doctor and help others....
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The Army has found that 79 percent of suicides in its ranks occurred in the first three years of life as a soldier, whether or not the soldier had been deployed. And suicides tend to happen during times of serious transition.
Alarmed at the growing rate of soldiers taking their own lives, the Army has begun investigating the effectiveness off its mental health and suicide prevention programs. It also has instituted many programs to counsel and train soldiers.
In its latest monthly report on suicides, the Army said 18 soldier deaths were under investigation — up from 13 the month before.
Transition for a soldier can mean a number of things: deploying to a combat zone, coming home, leaving a unit or leaving the Army. But one of the biggest transitions in any soldier's life is that first moment when the bus rolls into the processing center....
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We write as Christian pastors who are privileged to serve as bishops of The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Newark and in the Diocese of New Jersey in order to express our grief, alarm, compassion and outrage over the suicide of Tyler Clementi. We join our voices with the voices of all those concerned in Ridgewood, where Tyler grew up, at Rutgers University, where he was a freshman and across our nation. Another gay young person has died by suicide. This tragic loss of a promising life would appear to be directly related to an invasion of Tyler’s privacy and a violation of his personal life. Much remains to be considered by law enforcement authorities and the courts in order to determine whether this is also a case of bullying, a felony or a hate crime – or a combination of the three. Whatever that legal determination may be, we join with other Christian and religious leaders, with the LGBT community and with all people of good will who take their stand against hatred, bigotry and bullying; against every expression of physical and verbal violence; and against any violation of the dignity of LGBT persons. When the rights of any – especially the members of vulnerable groups who have so often been scapegoated – are threatened, the rights of all are endangered.
We want to call attention to another, potentially deeper, issue here. It is the invasion of intimacy. Intimacy is a holy place within every human being; an innermost sanctuary where we develop our ultimate beliefs and values, nurture our closest relationships and maintain our deepest commitments. No one has the right to disclose that intimacy for someone else without consent. Such a violation is tantamount to the desecration of a sacred space. It is, in fact, a sacred space. It is the territory of the soul.
Technology, however, now provides tools to record, seize and disclose the most intimate matters of our lives without our consent. Identities can be stolen, hearts broken and lives shattered. Technology has placed powerful tools in human hands. Will they be used for building-up or for breaking down our neighbor? Tyler Clementi’s death certainly poses some important legal issues, but it also raises some critical moral concerns. Hubris has outstripped humility. And that is a serious problem. We can do better. We must do better, with God’s help.
In our Episcopal tradition, whenever we reaffirm our faith in worship, we are given a challenging question: “will you respect the dignity of every human being?” And we answer, “I will, with God’s help.” It is an important commitment. Whatever our religious tradition, we can agree on the need to respect one another’s dignity. With God’s help, we can stand together and stand up against bullies who would damage and destroy the lives of LGBT persons, their partners and families and friends. With God’s help, we can offer safety, support and sanctuary to all LGBT persons who are at risk. With God’s help, we can remind our society that every LGBT person is made in the image of God. The world needs our witness.
The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Bishop of Newark
The Rt. Rev. George E. Councell, Bishop of New Jersey
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Psychology Suicide * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Just days before I was to celebrate another middle-age birthday, I heard on the news that the mayor of an affluent suburb here had killed her 19-year-old daughter before turning the gun on herself. Authorities believe 55-year-old Jayne Peters — mayor of Coppell, Texas— might have planned the murder-suicide based on notes found at her home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers are taking a long look at numbers showing that middle-age adults (45-54) — like Peters — have the highest suicide rate in the nation for the second year in a row.
Why? In general, researchers see a broad range of factors.....
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(Please note--the above headline is from the print edition--KSH).
Melanie Poorman swiveled in her chair and punched a button on the phone. The caller, an Iraq war veteran in his 30s, had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was watching a movie, “Body of War,” that was triggering bad memories. He started to cry.
And he had a 12-gauge shotgun nearby. Could someone please come and take it away, he asked.
Ms. Poorman, 54, gently coaxed the man into unloading the weapon. As a co-worker called the police, she stayed on the line, talking to him about his girlfriend, his work, the war. Suddenly, there were sirens. “I unloaded the gun!” she heard him shout. And then he hung up. (He was taken to a hospital, she learned later.)
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Why do we react so badly to young suicide? The young suicide is particularly unacceptable: he or she appears to engage in the reverse of Pritchard's ultimate rejection — it is not we who are rejecting the individual suicide so much as the young suicide cohorts who are rejecting us — our love, family, faith, imagination, creativity, culture, civilisation. We are, in many senses, as much affronted as confronted by each such event. But this is essentially because we view the individual as belonging to us, to our society. For some religions, life and death belong only to God.
We need to reflect that even the most rejected, lonely, desperate, hopeless and helpless individual still has one little domain of sovereignty: his or her physical being. Continuation or cessation of that physicality is the only decision they can make — and who are we to deny them that exercise?
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Thirty-two soldiers took their own lives last month, the most Army suicides in a single month since the Vietnam era. Eleven of the soldiers were not on active duty. Of the 21 who were, seven were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Army officials say they don't have any answers to why more and more soldiers are resorting to suicide.
"There were no trends to any one unit, camp, post or station," Col. Chris Philbrick, head of the Army's suicide prevention task force, told CNN. "I have no silver bullet to answer the question why."
Makes the heart sad--read it all.
Update: An NBC News segment on this may be viewed here:
The seemingly empathetic nurse struck up conversations over the Internet with people who were pondering suicide. She told them what methods worked best. She told some that it was all right to let go, that they would be better in heaven, and entered into suicide pacts with others.
But the police say the nurse, who sometimes called herself Cami and described herself as a young woman, was actually William F. Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old husband and father from Faribault, Minn., who now stands charged with two counts of aiding suicide.
Mr. Melchert-Dinkel, whose lawyer declined an interview request on his behalf, told investigators that his interest in “death and suicide could be considered an obsession,” court documents say, and that he sought the “thrill of the chase.” While the charges stem from two deaths — one in Britain in 2005 and one in Canada in 2008 — Mr. Melchert-Dinkel, who was indeed a licensed practical nurse, told investigators that he had most likely encouraged dozens of people to kill themselves, court documents said. He said he could not be sure how many had succeeded.
The case, chilling and ghoulish, raises thorny issues in the Internet age, both legal and otherwise. For instance, many states have laws barring assisting suicide, but rarely have cases involved people not in the same room (much less the same country) or the sharing of only words (not guns or pills).
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It is not clear what some students at South Hadley High School expected to achieve by subjecting a freshman to the relentless taunting described by a prosecutor and classmates.
Certainly not her suicide. And certainly not the multiple felony indictments announced on Monday against several students at the Massachusetts school.
The prosecutor brought charges Monday against nine teenagers, saying their taunting and physical threats were beyond the pale and led the freshman, Phoebe Prince, to hang herself from a stairwell in January.
The charges were an unusually sharp legal response to the problem of adolescent bullying, which is increasingly conducted in cyberspace as well as in the schoolyard and has drawn growing concern from parents, educators and lawmakers.
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Cornell University staff are monitoring bridges over river gorges on the campus and checking on students after three fell to their deaths in the past month.
The head of the US college also took out an ad in the campus paper urging students: "If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help."
The first of the deaths has been ruled a suicide. The others, which happened last week, are being investigated.
Three other students at Cornell have killed themselves this academic year.
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Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rhodes keeps pictures of the dead in his pockets.
They're the faces of young soldiers whose eyes stare out resolutely from photocopied pages worn and creased by the ritual of unfolding them, smoothing them flat and refolding them.
They're the faces of men who, haunted by problems at home or memories of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — the dead children, the fallen comrades and the lingering smell of burnt flesh — pressed guns to their heads and pulled the triggers or tied ropes with military precision and hanged themselves.
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What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church in Hickory, North Carolina, are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.
Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.
Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem. But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the recent suicide of David Treadway, two pastors in North Carolina attempted suicide and three in South Carolina died by suicide, all in the past four years.
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They were “happy, fun-loving people”, full of the joys of life. But, after an evening at a jazz concert with their son and his fiancée, Dennis and Flora Milner returned home and gassed themselves in their bed.
Despite being in reasonable health, they had, at the ages of 83 and 81 respectively, chosen to take their own lives rather than face what they saw as an inevitable decline into infirmity.
Their suicides were a collective, personal decision, but also a political one after a lifetime of activism by Mr Milner.
Read the whole article.
What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church here are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.
Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.
Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem.
Makes the heart sad. Read it all.
Sergeant Blaylock went back to Houston, where he tried to pick up the pieces of his life and shape them into a whole. But grief and guilt trailed him, combining with other stresses: financial troubles, disputes with his estranged wife over their young daughter, the absence of the tight group of friends who had helped him make it through 12 months of war.
On Dec. 9, 2007, Sergeant Blaylock, heavily intoxicated, lifted a 9-millimeter handgun to his head during an argument with his girlfriend and pulled the trigger. He was 26.
“I have failed myself,” he wrote in a note found later in his car. “I have let those around me down.”
Over the next year, three more soldiers from the 1451st — Sgt. Jeffrey Wilson, Sgt. Roger Parker and Specialist Skip Brinkley — would take their own lives. The four suicides, in a unit of roughly 175 soldiers, make the company an extreme example of what experts see as an alarming trend in the years since the invasion of Iraq.
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(UMNS) Anything a soldier tells a chaplain is confidential – and that fact is the single biggest reason clergy are on the front lines of the U.S. Army’s suicide prevention efforts, United Methodist chaplains say.
“Chaplains have specialized training and are gatekeepers for the prevention programs,” said Chaplain Lt. Col. Scott Weichl, behavioral health program manager at the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
“Many, many folks come and talk to us. We are not judgmental, and many who have had serious difficulties just need someone to talk to,” added Weichl, who is a United Methodist chaplain. “We try to discern, to triage who needs to see someone with special training and skills.”
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