The path of the pale horse named Death, mentioned in Revelation 6:8, is littered with bitterness, sorrow, fear, and grief. This ashen stallion started his lengthy journey ages ago and races through time with steady beat and dreadful regularity. As long as we exist in the land of the dying, we shall hear the sombre knell of his hoofbeats.
Sadly, some people hurry their appointment with death. Painful though it may be to hear and accept, thousands of people will take their own lives during the next 12 months. For in our land, suicide is now almost an epidemic.
Once every minute someone in the United States attempts suicide.
In this country, there are 24 per cent more deaths by suicide than by murder.
Suicide is the number nine cause of adult death in the USA. For Americans between 15 and 30 years of age, it is the number three cause of death. It is the number two cause among teenagers.
Four out of five people who commit suicide have tried it previously. Those who are unsuccessful usually try again.
Contrary to popular opinion, people who threaten suicide often mean it. Threats should be taken seriously.
Thankfully, suicidal individuals usually communicate their feelings before acting, thus making this irrevocable act preventable if those who are close are wise and sensitive enough to read the signals.
Some of the warning signals or clues you should be aware of are 1) talk about suicide, 2) a sudden change in personality, 3) deep depression, 4) physical symptoms—sleeplessness, loss of appetite, decreased sexual drive, drastic weight loss, repeated exhaustion, 5) actual attempts, and 6) crisis situations—death of a loved one, failure at school, loss of job, marital or home problems, and a lengthy or terminal illness. These are certainly not "sure signs," but if any or several persist, please step in and offer help. Contact your physician or ask advice from your local Suicide Crisis Centre's 24-hour crisis line; you may also want to contact one of the spiritual leaders or officers of your church or a member of the pastoral staff. Such situations are often emergencies. To delay could result in tragic consequences.
Those who are strong need to bear the weaknesses of the weak (Romans 15:1). That may mean blocking the path of the pale horse!
Sometimes if we are to hear what is being said, we need to listen to what is not being said.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.