I did not want to write this column. It is very depressing to contemplate, but this matter is in your face from all media. The statistics read like this: “Twenty-three veterans commit suicide in the U.S. every day.” “One of the leading causes of death among American teenagers and the elderly is suicide.”

America is in the throes of a major health crisis. People of faith need to offer a word of Biblical hope now, not later. As I sit down to pen this column, guess what happened? Across my desk came the local newspaper with the largest headline featuring a murder-suicide.

Let us reason together. Suicide is not what you think it is. Suppose you go through with this agonizing deed, what then will you have? If you have an immortal soul, how does it play out in your scheme? Accountability looms large.

Would postponement not be worth the wait? Suicide is ghastly overrated. I seriously doubt that changing locations is all it’s talked up to be. The thing about suicide is screwing up the courage to do it, or, as it’s been said, screwing up the cowardice to be so stupid.

Whether gradual or quick, daily smoking or a smoking gun, you leave in your death a mess for others to clean up. Is that the best you could do with the gift of life you were given? Locked in ambivalence, don’t do what you can’t undo.

Don’t purposely go where you can’t come back. Choose to wait and weigh it out, choose mercy not permanency.

Have you seriously thought about the hearts you will break and the example you will leave for generations? Suicide leaves an embarrassing taste in the mouth others don’t like to think or talk about. A mother’s love never dies. Does your family deserve your worst instead of your best?

Suicide is a permanent answer to a temporary problem. Can you not see beyond the present to a different day? Are you wiling to ponder other options?

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Do you know or will you seek the prayers and counsel of others? Postponement can be providential. Let God be God.

I would ask you to look at the Christian faith where others, in spite of fatal illness, business reversals, alcohol and drug problems, cling to the compassionate

God of creation and the savior of our redemption. The apostle Paul, with unparalleled eloquence rang out a note of everlasting truth when he penned these immortal words: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)

If you are toying with ending your life, the great riches of the next few years may be yours if you will be more patient and receptive. Reach out for help while you can. There is a pastor and a hospital chaplain not far away. You did not read this column at this time in your life by accident.

E. Lee Phillips, a minister and author, works in Floyd County.