Here are some sad statistics.
- 121 million people worldwide struggle with depression.
- Suicide accounts for 49.1% of violent deaths (compared to 18.6% for war and 31.3% for homicide.)
- 5.8% of men and 9.5% of women will experience a depressive episode within any given year. (I have seen estimates that are much higher as well.)
- In any given year, 7% of people will seriously consider suicide as an option.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers and second among college students.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Where are evangelicals? Nowhere to be found. Every evangelical pastor and their brother has written about Caitlyn Jenner, SCOTUS, and Kim Davis (to be fair, I have written about all of these too, and these are things that must be commented on), but what about depression, mental health, and suicide. Outside of David Murray, Rick Warren, Ann Voskamp, and FLAME, I have yet to see a notable evangelical address these issues. Thankfully Rick Warren and Saddleback Church are hosting a conference this week on the church and mental health, but knowing how most Reformed Evangelicals view Warren, if is not likely to be well received.
We have nonprofits for abortion, human trafficking, domestic violence, disease, poverty, hunger, homelessness, drug addiction, at risk youth, education, and disaster relief, all good and worthy causes, but for mental health or suicide prevention, I have yet to see a single one. Heck, I think evangelicals are actually even starting to care about racism! There is To Write Love on Her Arms and Saddleback’s mental health initiative, but TWLOHA is not exactly evangelical (though I do love what they do) and Saddleback’s program is not a para church organization like say Save the Storks or International Justice Mission. I don’t want evangelicals to stop caring about these issues. They all deserve attention, and God has equipped us all with different passions to care about different areas, but evangelicals still seem to just roll their eyes when mental health or suicide prevention is raised as an issue of concern.
As David Murray has said,
“Judgment Day alone will declare how many people took their lives because they were too frightened of the condemnation that would be heaped upon them in the church if they admitted to struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. If there’s one thing that infuriates me (usually holy anger, sometimes not so holy) it’s the ridiculously ignorant and horrifically insensitive statements that some pastors and Christians make about depression and mental illness.”
I hope and pray that in the near future that Evangelical Christianity will wake up to this health crisis and respond both intelligently and compassionately by both pointing to Christ and the medical help that is available.