Pastor Remington’s concern that we must guard against creating a culture where suicide becomes a trend, is shared by many. However, those in shock and grief often say things because they don’t know what else to say — such as, “They are in a better place.” It is not necessarily giving the act a pass.
It is important to remember that not all of us are Christians, and not all of us who are Christians interpret suicide as automatic damnation and a trip to hell. Christian or not — we all deserve hope.
Shame and fear are not a prevention strategy. Suicide by nature exemplifies the loss of hope. Telling someone who has no hope that they will not be in a better place drives hopelessness.
Suicide is unpredictable. While well-meaning, the implication that “normally” distracting from suicide prevents the act is dangerous and misleading. The rising suicide rate in this country and the loss of so many in our own community this spring is a devastating reminder that suicide prevention is anything but simple.
Remington is not a mental health professional, he is a pastor. Suicide prevention strategies must include certified mental health professionals who provide the tools — based in science — that help keep people safe. Faith is a powerful tool, but alone it does not save people from killing themselves — and it should never be used to shame or scare those who are desperate, weak and vulnerable.