Tag: Depression

The Church’s Answer to Suicide | Colson Center Breakpoint Article

Matthew recently sat down with John Stonestreet and Shane Morris to discuss Hope Always and the Church’s Answer to Suicide.



There is a pandemic that has lasted far longer than COVID. It’s also been more deadly. It’s more difficult to treat, and there’s no vaccine for it. Masks are ineffective in stopping it and may actually make it worse.

America’s pandemic of despair shows up most obviously in the mounting number of suicide and suicide attempts. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates are higher today than at any other time since the Great Depression. Unless one takes into account just how different our world is today, it’s impossible to grasp what that data point really means. Today, we have emergency rooms, a much better knowledge of poison and poison control, better technologies, and emergency medications like NARCAN. These incredible, life-saving medical interventions mean that a large percentage of patients who attempt suicide survive. But adjusting for these medical advances, we are likely living through the worst suicide crisis in our nation’s history.

This is a crisis that is, at its root, fueled by despair. Hopelessness afflicts individuals and entire communities. Deeper than economic hardship or access to firearms and opioids, we have created, to borrow words from my friend Matthew Sleeth, “an unlivable society.” Loneliness and isolation are the norm, and they pre-existed this Coronavirus.

Matthew’s latest book is the most direct, helpful, and clarifying book for Christians on this topic of suicide. It’s called Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide. In it, he combines his first-hand knowledge of America’s suicide crisis as an emergency room doctor with statistical insights, a biblical overview of the topic, and an incredible amount of wisdom. His conclusion is nothing less than a calling. When it comes to addressing this culture-wide pandemic, if not the church stepping up, who will?

Scripture, as Dr. Sleeth points out, says a great deal about suicide, and therefore has a huge role to play in preventing it. From the beginning, Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden to, in effect, kill themselves. Ever since, demons, both literal and figurative, have been whispering lies and words of despair into human ears.

Throughout the book, Sleeth threads an important needle. On the one hand, he argues against a materialistic view of suicide. Humans are, he argues, the only creatures that knowingly take our own lives. Thus, this terrible decision has an irreducible spiritual component. On the other hand, Sleeth warns Christians not to ignore the very real medical and mental health factors that drive people to self-harm.

By holding together the material and moral sides of suicide, Sleeth addresses the issue from the best foundation available: who humans are as image-bearers of God. Thus, Sleeth makes clear why Christianity has proved to be the most powerful and effective response to those whispering demons that call us into the darkness.

Near the beginning of Hope Always, Sleeth tells an especially touching story of two patients from his time as an emergency room physician. The first was an able-bodied young man, full of promise, who chose to shoot himself in the temple. The other was a joyful, wheelchair-bound man, slightly older with a permanent neurological injury, who had come in for a minor infection.

A nurse asked Dr. Sleeth if he recognized the patient. “It’s the man you saw last spring who shot himself.” The two patients, as it turns out, were the same person. As the young man’s parents later told Dr. Sleeth, after surviving his suicide attempt, their son had found a reason to live. In their words, “He got his faith back,” and his faith had given him fresh hope. (This kind of powerful storytelling, born in his wealth of experience, is just one example of Matthew Sleeth’s compelling writing style.)

To be clear, having a Christian faith is no guarantee that, ultimately, the demonic voices will go away, or won’t steal, kill, and destroy a life. Still, especially in this area, only the Church is properly grounded in both Scripture and science. Only the biblical vision of the imago Dei, of our creation and fall, can address the fullness of the human condition. In light of this, I say with Matthew Sleeth, if not the church on this issue, then who?


Matthew Sleeth | Wilberforce Weekend: Restoring Hope

Suicide. It’s the thing nobody wants to talk about in the Church. But Matthew Sleeth argues that confronting it is an opportunity for Christians to be completely unique agents of restoration in our cultural context.

Matthew spoke at the Colson Center’s Wilberforce Weekend Conference in May 2021. See Matthew’s compelling session on Hope Always and suicide prevention.

Q & A with Matthew Sleeth About Mental Health and Suicide | CT Blog

Ed: We’ve heard suicide described as an epidemic in the U.S. Would you share some of the facts about the prevalence of this issue among Americans today?

Matthew: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 34-year-olds.

It’s the tenth leading cause of death in adults.

Females are twice as likely to attempt suicide.

Males are four times as likely to die by suicide.

Over the past two decades, suicide rates have risen about 35 percent—and that’s not counting the people who die by overdose. When people take fentanyl (which is 50 times more potent than heroin) or carfentanil (which is 10,000 times more potent than heroin), they are—at best—ambivalent about waking up the next morning. If we include overdose deaths and adjust for medical advances over the past century (overdose-reversing drugs, antidepressants, 911, and ER systems, etc.), our suicide rate would be at least twenty times higher than it was during the Great Depression.

We are experiencing the greatest depression the world has ever known…


Preventing Suicide: ‘You Really Can Make a Difference’ | CBN

Dr. Matthew Sleeth saw thousands of suicide attempts during his many years overseeing emergency rooms and departments. Now as a Christian author and founder of Blessed Earth, he’s out to arm his brothers and sisters in Christ with the knowledge they need to fight a sudden surge in suicides.

With 1,500,000 Americans likely to try killing themselves this year, Sleeth believes many of them could be talked back from the brink.

Rate Would be Far Higher if We Were in the Medical World of the Great Depression

The suicide rate is now as bad as the other worst time in America for people killing themselves, the Great Depression. But Sleeth says it would be much higher than the present roughly 14 out of 100,000 people without the many modern medical advances thwarting so many of today’s suicide attempts.

Sleeth told CBN News, “Our suicide rate would be anywhere from 100 per 100,000 to 300 per 100,000. Meaning the highest it’s ever been anywhere in history, any country…”


This article originally appeared in CBNnews.com

Finding Hope in the Midst of the Suicide Crisis | Psychology Today Article

How can we help those struggling with mental illness and suicide?

Suicide and mental illness are prevalent and worsening issues in our current culture, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interview, Matthew Sleeth shares lessons from his book on the importance of prevention and how we can help those struggling seek hope and resilience.

Jamie Aten: Why did you set out to write your book?

Matthew Sleeth: As a physician and a theologian, I wanted to explore two questions:

  1. Has society’s overemphasis on materialism, status, and power resulted in a world that is unlivable?
  2. If our suicide rate has increased virtually every year over the past three decades, should our approach to preventing suicide in the future merely be more of the same?

Experience and research show that both faith-based and secular approaches are helpful to those suffering from mental illness and, in particular, suicidal ideation. However, we live in a time where there is a growing divide between the secular and sacred worlds. I wanted to give people a book that offers the best of both…”

Originally written for Psychology Today by Jamie D. Aten Ph.D.

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