Suicide Prevention -- By: Donald W. Holdridge, Sr

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Suicide Prevention
Author: Donald W. Holdridge, Sr


Suicide Prevention

Donald W. Holdridge, Sr.

Associate Professor, Baptist Bible College

It was the fall of 1979, during my second week of active duty. A soldier entered the chapel with his arms all bandaged. He had slashed his wrists in an attempt to take his own life. This individual had not adjusted well to basic training. His drill sergeant was constantly on him for messing up, and he had just received a “Dear John” letter from his girlfriend back home. These pressures, combined with a lack of maturity and direction, led this young man to seek a permanent solution to his temporal problems. This was my first encounter with suicide.

This article is written with the hope and intention of bringing a greater awareness of suicide to Christian workers, so they might be able to assist those considering such desperate measures. Although I am not a trained psychiatrist, one of my duties, as an Army Reserve Chaplain, is to conduct classes in Suicide Prevention. Having dealt with soldiers who have wrestled with it and visited with those whose lives have been shattered by the suicide of a loved one have sensitized my heart to this problem. While this may be a “taboo” topic, people need to know more about this crisis that touches millions of lives each year. If only one person is prevented from wrongly extinguishing his or her God-given life through the following information, then this article will have served its purpose.

Statistics

Who commits suicide? There are over 30,000 people who take their lives each year in the U.S. alone. The suicide ratio of males to females is roughly 4:1, even though the ratio of females to males attempting suicide is 3:1. Males succeed more often because they typically use firearms. Out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., an average of 2.3 black females, 5.3 white females, 12.0 black males, and 22.0 white males

commit suicide.1 The highest incidence of suicide for any ethnic group in the U.S. is among Native American males.2 The elderly, between the ages of 74 and 85, have the highest incidence of suicide for all age groups (22.8/100,000).3 Although 15–24 year olds don’t kill themselves as frequently as seniors, their rates have increased some 200% over the last four decades. Suicide has become the third leading cause of death among young adults!4 It is further estimated that there are 8–10 attempts made for every completed suicide.

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