Talking about suicide

800,000 people a year commit suicide. It is the second leading cause of death among people 15-29 years of age. Students in Brazil received training on how to respond from a Biblical perspective.

Penny Vinden

IFES · SAO PAULO · 20 JULY 2016 · 09:50 CET

Photo: Steve Alama (Unsplash, CC),
Photo: Steve Alama (Unsplash, CC)

800,000 people a year commit suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 15-29 years of age. And yet this is a subject that is often taboo in Christian circles.

Not so in Brazil! The country as a whole was so concerned that it designated a month to host special events to highlight suicide prevention.

ABU Brazil in Teresina was also concerned. Wanting to build bridges of dialogue with society, they organised a lecture in May to discuss suicide openly. They invited a local graduate, Hosanira Costa, who is an expert on the topic.

“We wanted to promote intervention in suicidal behaviour through this debate. It is a matter of caring for our neighbour”, explained management student Thales Gonçalves, one of the coordinators of the event.

Lydia Carvalho, a student in mechanical engineering, agreed that this discussion was vitally important: “As the saying goes: ‘Loneliness is being alone even in the midst of many people.’ Suicide is just the end of a silent and painful process. Teresina needs to be aware of the suicide cases devastating our capital…. Let us ask God for discernment for as the psalmist says, the Lord is my present help. May this help be the answer to a request for help from someone.”

Hosanira challenged the students to think carefully about how they are living, explaining that suicide is a complex phenomenon. “Improve your quality of life and protect yourself, look for activities that give you pleasure. It is also important that family and friends provide emotional support and listen with compassion. Support centres are important when it comes to prevention”, she said.

Several saw the need for public health officials to take suicide more seriously so that those who suffer from “this silent disease” can be helped. Ariane Tsuzuki, a student in architecture, writes: “Any of us, or our loved ones or even close friends may be vulnerable to suffer from this existential pain. People generally do not know how to help, so it is great that ABU held these talks, because information can save lives.”

ABU Brazil is not the only IFES movement to take suicide seriously. Guyana has the highest suicide rate in the world, and IS/IVCF Guyana developed a program called HOPE to help deal with this problem.

On a related issue, Christian medical students within SMD Germany have published a position statement on assisted suicide. They want to promote the protection of life while still alleviating suffering. This paper is available in English and German.

This blog is based on a blog originally published by ABUB Brazil.

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Published in: Evangelical Focus - life & tech - Talking about suicide