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News > Commentary - Don’t listen to the voice saying suicide is the only option
Don’t listen to the voice saying suicide is the only option

Posted 9/26/2012   Updated 9/26/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Army Chaplain (Col.) Richard Quinn
USARAK Chaplain

9/26/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Driven by a sense of hopelessness and despair, shattered by failed relationships and abandoned promises, fueled by alcohol and a desire to "make the pain end," a Soldier blindly turns to suicide as a permanent solution to what may have been a temporary problem ... voices.

In 31 years of military ministry, I've seen it many times. Different faces and places, but humanity is still the same ... voices.

In 2007 at the Leavenworth National Cemetery, I stood beside the wife and children of my dear friend.

We wept, prayed, and I handed her a folded flag on behalf of a grateful nation ... voices.
Thirty-two years ago my sister stood at the crossroads, staring at her hollow reflection in a mirror.

She had just left her son at daycare. He was hysterically screaming, "Don't leave me mommy!" She slowly drove home in tears ... voices ... "You're a bad mother" ... "worthless" ... "he hates you" ... "failure" ... "they'd be better off without you" ... "just end it" ... "make the pain and guilt go away." ... voices.

She repeated the words as she broke apart a razor and proceeded to slice her skin.
The destroyer was speaking and with every deeper cut, she was listening.

Last year I called my sister the day after a Soldier in Alaska took his life. I asked for her thoughts and she told me two very simple yet profound things:

1) Recognize the value of a life lived, and the tragedy of a life lost.

2) Tell everyone if we listen, there are always two voices - the voice of the destroyer and the voice of life.

The destroyer is a negative liar of hopeless despair tearing you down; life is the voice of positive truth and encouraging hope building you up.

The destroyer is Satan; life is God.

God will never say "worthless," "failure," "they hate you," or "just end it."

God's voice of life says, "I'm here," "you're not alone," "we're gonna make it," and "I love you."

Tell them to listen to God's voice from Jeremiah 29:11.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

A future. My sister 32 years later ... Her decision to listen to the voice of life brought new life and hope to herself and to countless others.

As a mother and grandmother, she founded "New Horizons," an awesome Christian organization impacting impoverished high-risk children living in Florida.

Voices ... At the memorial I listened to the final roll call, the silence was deafening - the only response was three volleys and the mournful cry of "Taps."

I saluted the static display in recognition of a life lived, then turned to the family in the front row and saw the tragedy of a life lost.

How I wish he'd listened to the other voice - the voice of life.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

If you're feeling hopeless, down or suicidal, call the Military Crisis Hotline at (800) 273-TALK, option 1.

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