Articles from the August 1997 Unification News

Values and Suicide

by Haven Bradford Gow

A lady in California recently wrote to syndicated columnist Ann Landers, saying she intended to commit suicide. In reaction to this tragic letter of depression and despair, some readers of the Ann Landers column wrote and urged the suicidal woman to seek a solution other than suicide.

One letter writer in Indiana wrote: "I lost a brother and a step-brother to suicide.... The grief will be immense.... Survivors blame themselves, no matter what anyone says." One person from Boston wrote: "I was a teenager when my mother killed herself.... We were ashamed. We also were afraid we might be looked at as 'unstable.' Suicide stigmatizes the whole family." Someone from Seaford, NY said: "My mother took her own life 27 years ago when I was only 11. I never got over it."

Someone from Daly City, CA said: "Suicide is a terribly selfish act. It may be a 'solution' to the person who does it, but it's a horrible thing to do to your family." A lady from Lenexa, Kansas sent this message: "My 17 year old son committed suicide on Mother's Day.... I am totally devastated. My life will never be the same." A nurse in Bucyrus, Ohio wrote: "When I was 16, my father shot himself. I am now 77, an R.N. and married to a wonderful physician, and I am still not over it. My saint of a husband says I have been depressed for most of our married life." Still another said, "Thirty seven years ago, I came home from school and found my father who had just killed himself. My sisters and I are all in loveless marriages.... Suicide is a terrible thing to do to those who love you...the ultimate act of selfishness."

In this connection, the Girl Scouts of the USA have published a significant booklet on youth suicide which points out some alarming statistics regarding the nationwide epidemic of teenage suicides; the booklet discloses that suicide among adolescents is the second leading cause of death, following accidents.

Each day, more than 1,000 teens in this nation attempt suicide, with an average of 18 teens every day succeeding. Also, at least 15 percent of all fatal accidents actually may be suicides but are disguised as accidents; and substance abuse also may be a way for depressed teens to try self-murder. Indeed, each year 12,000 children ages 5-14 are referred to psychiatric care for suicidal conduct.

One important factor in the rise of suicides among the young is the widespread influence of secular humanism, which denies the objective, extra-mental reality of God and insists that "man is the supreme being for man." Certainly if human life is not sacred, if man is not made in the image and likeness of God, then the government or an abortionist or a suicidal individual may do away with innocent human life whenever it becomes convenient or profitable to do so.

When unborn babies are aborted merely for the sake of convenience, when newly-born babies are permitted to die simply because they are handicapped or "less than perfect," and when the elderly are encouraged to die because they are unwanted and cannot care for themselves, then it becomes easy for young people to conclude that their lives also are worthless and valueless.

Given the present social and moral context, then, self-murder becomes a reasonable and morally tolerable response to the agonizing and perplexing problems of life.

Consequently, to alleviate the nationwide tragedy of teen suicides, we must reaffirm the sacredness of human life and the intrinsic moral worth and dignity of human beings.

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