Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tragic Death

Rev. Paul McCain shared some comforting words about suicide on his blog this afternoon. Please go over and take a look.

The post was occasioned by the suicide of one of his seminary classmates. He was in active parish ministry. I immediately thought about one of my predecessors here who committed suicide on a Saturday night, twenty-some years ago.

Suicide is tragic enough without the victim being an ordained pastor. It can be worse, or more scandalous when it is someone "who should know better." In other words, we think the Gospel alone should be antidote enough to depression and hopelessness. We think that men who know and breathe the Gospel should be immune from such tragedy.

That is not the case. Depression is the result of chemical imbalances. It's not an issue of being sad, or weak or whatever. Stress can contribute, but this is a medical condition. Many, many people suffer this problem, and there shouldn't be a stigma attached to it.

I appreciated how Rev. McCain concluded his post:

Finally, if you know a pastor who is struggling, be sure to reach out to encourage him and support him. Don't sit around thinking, "Oh, somebody else is going to say something." No, you say something. Do something. Reach out in Christian love. If a congregation is aware that the pastor is suffering, don't wait, help.


  1. orrologion said...

    I posted some a comment to this post that may be helpful to ministers dealing with depression, burn out, etc.:

    "I noted Rev. Randy Asburry's recent blog posts regarding clergy 'burn out' and sabbaticals - his own included - and wrote to him asking for any information he had so as to pass it on to my priest and other clergy I know. I compiled all the information Pastor Asburry made available and with his kind permission posted it on my blog here:


    Please fee free to share these resources with clergy you know - if they don't need it personally, they likely know other ministers that do."

    It must be very difficult to be in a helper role when it is you yourself that needs help. How to do it? It must feel like failure, which would then exacerbate the situation. Of course, most people don't realize when they are depressed.

    I found a cartoon that I have used with my teenage Church School kids to help explain the Orthodox understanding of temptation and the ascetic struggle to be watchful and guard the heart: it was on old curmudgeon of a woman saying "Don't believe everything you think." It is hard to remember this about depression and other mental illnesses since we assume we are our thought, that our perception of the world is true and accurate, that what is obvious is in fact obvious or real or right.

    Memory eternal to Pr. ________, and may the Lord bless, save and comfort his congregation, wife and children.

  2. Christopher D. Hall said...

    Thanks, Christopher!