As suicides rise what is the role of the church? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marie Bowen   

Fotolia 72691465 SWhat drives people to consider suicide? How can the church address such desperation and communicate God's message of love and hope?

"Among all women younger than 75, suicide rates grew across the age spectrum. But in the age of greatest vulnerability — women between the ages of 45 and 64 — the rate of suicide in 2014 vaulted 80 percent higher over 1999's rates."

I saw it first in my local morning paper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The paragraph quoted above from a Los Angeles Times article appeared April 22, 2016, caught my attention because I am aware that women who have had abortions are at increased risk of mental health problems that may lead to suicide.

The short article made note of two ethnic groups that have also seen marked increases in suicide rates: non-Hispanic American Indians and Alaska Natives. Suicide rates also rose in a number of other groups including men in the 45-64 age brackets, but none of those increased at the shocking rate seen in suicides among women age 45-64. No attempt was made in the article to assess the reasons for the rise of suicide rates generally or among women specifically.

"Abortion increases the likelihood of suicide," states a report on studies conducted in United States, Britain, and Finland. Why is no one in the media talking about abortion as a possible cause for the alarming increase in suicides among women? The studies noted in the report show an astonishing 160% increase in suicide risk for women in the four years immediately following an abortion. They also note that the increased risk of suicide for women having abortions continues long after the abortion event. The article makes the following comment in the sidebar:

"The primary reason for suicide after an abortion, is the long-term clinical depression suffered by a percentage of women."

Many professionals do not talk about the relationship between abortion and suicide because of the controversial nature of the issue not only in America, but globally. The silence may compound the problem for women and men who feel alone in their struggle with the aftermath of abortion.

How can the church love women (and men) who are feeling depressed or coping with grief and guilt following an abortion? We have the good news that Jesus Christ has come to save sinners. God stands ready to forgive whatever we have done and that includes abortion. If we remain silent about abortion in our churches, however, we will never hear the pain and sorrow of those who need the hope we have to offer.

Here's my simple to do list for opening the doors to abortion recovery ministry.

1. Pray - asking God to show you women and men who need ministry and how to go about meeting that need. Ask at least one other person to join you in praying about starting an abortion recovery ministry in your church.
2. Prepare – Begin by visiting PPL's page on abortion recovery. Read the stories at Silent no More. Visit The Elliott Institute for facts and statistics. Study biblical references about who God is, his love for us and his grace toward us.
3. Plan – Begin with testimonies of God's grace after abortion during a service, or hold a memorial service for pregnancy loss. Plan a Bible Study for those who have experienced abortion. PPL can help you with this. Call us at 412-487-1990.
4. Post – Make your congregation and/or community aware of this available ministry by posting flyers in women's and men's bathrooms, church bulletins, community newspaper. Give only a first name and phone number and keep time and location (best to meet away from church) of meetings confidential.

Take step one and God will bring leaders with passion to help and individuals who need the love and grace of Jesus Christ.


Abortion and Suicide, by David C. Reardon, Ph.D.

Induced abortion and maternal suicide, The American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG)

Most Studies Show Abortion Linked to Increased Mental Health Problems, The Elliott Institute



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