SUICIDE, DESPAIR and COVID

By PPL Board Member Martha Leatherman, MD


"There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them." ~ C. S. Lewis



“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25 (ESV)


One misconception about suicide is that it is caused by sadness or “depression.”Of course, depression is a condition shared by many victims of suicide, but the depression is not the driver of the suicide.Despair and hopelessness drive suicide. People commit suicide when they think that it is the only alternative to living in their present unbearable state.


So, what does that knowledge tell us about the relationship between COVID and suicide? Well, at this point, it’s not completely clear. We do know that suicides worldwide have increased during the pandemic, but we do not know by how much. We know that drug abuse and overdoses have also increased worldwide, but, again, the true numbers are unknown at this time. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7672361/)


Even with limited information, we can make some analysis of the situation: We know that certain groups are more vulnerable to suicide in general. These groups include the elderly, the homeless, victims of abuse and violence, and those in financial crisis. It is interesting that these vulnerable populations overlap with the populations that are most adversely affected by social isolation, lockdowns, and stigma associated with an international pandemic with fear constantly promoted by media and public health officials (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rochelle-walensky-cdc-chief-covid-concern/). For example, isolated elderly are stripped of their customary social interactions (church, family, going out to eat, even grocery shopping) during lockdowns. Victims of domestic violence and child abuse are locked into homes with their abusers and denied the escape of work or school. Masks hide evidence of physical violence.


Much of our pandemic behavior has been driven by fear, and much of our pandemic behavior has been detrimental to our mental health. Jesus knew this when He said “fear not” (Rev 1:17-18). Jesus, not WHO or CDC or Covid holds the keys of “Death and Hades.” Jesus died so that we could live out of the bondage of fear. Satan wants to exploit our fear and the Church should be the first to storm the gates of that hellish emotion and say, “no more in the name of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.”

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