Suicide Leaves Question of Why

Five years ago, my nephew – my brother’s son – died by suicide. He left behind his wife, three precious young children, his mom, dad, and brother as well as extended family members, friends, and business acquaintances. The shock was palpable. Thoughts were confused, words were hard to come by, and “why?” was the question of the day.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the US and its incidence has increased approximately 30% since the year 2000. In 2021, there were over 48,000 deaths by suicide among 1.7 million suicide attempts.

Sometimes there are clear warning signs and sometimes it is completely unexpected. No one can really know what brings a person to take their own life. While there may be a single event that appears to have been a trigger, that is rarely the only cause. The survivors of a person who dies by suicide are in no way responsible for that person’s death, and yet they must face the fact that they will never fully understand what caused their loved one to take his or her own life.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect is to have to live on with never having an answer to the question, “why?”

Some Faiths Condemn Suicide Victims

Attitudes toward suicide vary widely among faiths and cultures, and only in recent years have we seen suicide being discussed as a public health issue, and “not a private shame.”

Many of us grew up with the belief or at least the thought that suicide was an unforgivable sin. But if [we are] convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—[and that] not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:32),  then how can we believe that a parent or child,  brother or sister, who is blinded by the pain of hopelessness and helplessness, and tumbles into a pit of despair, would not also be afforded this love of God in Christ Jesus?

Jesus died once and for all time for all of our sins. He didn’t pick and choose which sins. Perhaps the only unforgivable sin would be in refusing to believe that Jesus Christ has the power to forgive and forgives those who believe in Him.

Some Churches Support Suicide Families

As the number of suicides continues to increase, there is a blessing in that our churches and communities have become more aware of the realities of the issues surrounding suicide, and resources and training are improving daily to help those who are struggling and at risk. Joni Tada is a best-selling author who faced the despondence that could lead to suicide after a diving accident left her a quadriplegic.  In her article in Christianity Today, Why Suicide is Everybody’s Business, Tada tells us:

“Society is not a bunch of people…who sit around big tables and think up political trends or cultural drifts…You, my friends, are society. Your actions, your decisions, matter. What you do or don’t do has a ripple effect on everyone around you…and your participation can make a huge difference…”2  whether it be in the life of someone who is struggling, or in the life of those who are grieving the loss of that loved one. The words, “death by suicide” can leave us feeling awkward and uncomfortable. But the support we offer can be the key to helping someone through a very difficult time.

So, how we can all be part of the narrative? How can we make a difference in the life of someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, or in the lives of those who are grieving the death of a loved one by suicide. What can we say and do to help bring the hope that makes a difference in someone’s life?

Learn Warning Signs for Suicide

We can first, familiarize ourselves with the warning signs, which are a cry for help. Then, we should speak up if we believe a family member or friend is suicidal. We can show we care by pointing out alternatives and helping them find mental health care. If he or she says they are thinking about suicide and it appears to be a crisis situation, call 911 or bring the person to the emergency room.

The person in our life who is suicidal ultimately must make a commitment to his or her own recovery, we cannot do that for them. But we can get them the help they need, follow up with them on treatment, stay in contact with them by calling and visiting them, and continuing to support these loved ones as they work through their depression and despair.

As we follow the suggestions above, let’s not forget to pray for those who are in such blinding pain that they feel the only way out is death. Nothing moves the heart of God more than the prayers of the faithful for others in crisis.

For a deeper explanation:

This is a helpful guide that I believe we should all take the time to read through, especially if you have a loved one or friend whom you are concerned may be suicidal.

Learn more about Donna Berger and her books: Home – Donna Berger (

Read more about suicide on Open to Hope: Suicide Sucks – Open to Hope


Donna Berger

Donna Berger lived a balanced life of faith, family, friends and her career as a nurse anesthetist until one hot summer day in August of 1989 when her life was torn apart. That day an impaired driver crashed into her parked car killing her husband, Gerry, their three children, Dawn (8), Stephen (6), and Michael (3); and leaving Donna fighting for her life in a burn intensive care unit. Clinging to life and to Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them’, Donna chose to not count her faith amongst her many losses and reached out to the only One who could truly heal her. Christ’s faithful presence in her life carried her through tragedy and provided her with the blueprint for living through loss. Just days after that accident, while Donna’s fate was still uncertain, her husband Gerry’s best friend, John Berger, came to her bedside. He was moved powerfully by the Lord during that encounter, and while he was not completely sure she could hear or understand him, he whispered in her ear the promise that if she lived, he would take care of her. Today, Donna is a passionate witness to the presence of Jesus in her life and speaks about living a full life after loss. She is an author/blogger. Her first book, Living through Loss - A Memoir was published in 2022. Donna lives with her husband, John, in Florida where they enjoy their morning coffee, long walks, welcoming family and friends who come to visit, and witnessing to the faithfulness of God in their lives. When possible, she and John also look forward to traveling to see their daughters, Meredith, who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, Laura who lives in California, and their son, Christian, who lives in New York City.

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