Last night I watched “Remembering Anthony Bourdain”—CNN’s television show honoring Anthony Bourdain. Known as a good-looking talented man, author of many books, a culinary genius, and a travel documentarian, Bourdain was discovered unresponsive in his Kaysersberg, France hotel room having hung himself by suicide. Recently, his “claim to fame” included his trips around the world documenting the cuisine, politics, people, and cultures in his show titled “Parts Unknown” for CNN.
As I watched the show, I was drawn to our similarities.
- We both enjoy/enjoyed writing. I’m a novice, and he was a professional journalist.
- We both enjoy/enjoyed social issues. One of my college majors was Sociology while Bourdain enjoyed all things sociological like culture, customs, countries.
- We both love/loved the beautiful North Atlantic coastline.
- We both stretch/stretched ourselves by asking people questions because we are interested in their lives and we like/liked to know what makes people tick.
- We were both born in New York City.
- We both came from a Catholic/Jewish background.
- We both attended good colleges. Baylor for me; Vassar for him although he left after two years to continue his education at The Culinary Institute of America.
- He loved to learn and so do I. In educational terms, we could both call ourselves lifelong learners.
On Bourdain’s arm is a tattoo inscribed with the sentence, “I am certain of nothing.” As I ponder his life, his achievements and his personality, I believe he could have been used greatly by God. I’m not one to judge people as to whether God’s grace is a part of one’s life or not, but his fruit was probably evident that he rarely thought of God or God’s provision in his life. He battled demons on and off his entire life: drinking, drugs, profanity, brashness, and more.
I say all this to say, it is very sad that Bourdain committed suicide. It’s a hard pill to swallow when we realize that just a word, a touch, or an encouragement may have swayed his decision.
What would Bourdain’s life have been if he had believed that God was the source of his strength, the guidance of his career, the love of his life? Only God knows the answer to that question. But, I bet he could have been an outstanding Christ-follower. I even ask myself, “What would my life have been if I had not believed in Christ?” Not good, that is for sure.
Because there have been so many suicides recently in the news, republishing my article titled, “Suicide: 7 Reasons People Committed Suicide in the Bible” seems like the right thing to do. May it give my readers some thoughts to mull around and hopefully gain a renewed interest in God and what He can do in your life or in the life of a beloved friend or family member.
If you are contemplating suicide, “DON’T!” Call a friend, family member, or the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Suicide: 7 Reasons People Committed Suicide in the Bible [Reprint]
I once went to the viewing of a young adult who committed suicide. When greeting the parents, I experienced something I will never forget—the big, long hug from a desperate mom—the deep cry of a distraught wife—and the complete agony of a father.
It is the father’s furrowed face I want to keep etched in my mind—for no other reason, but to recall how awful suicide affects those involved. As I looked into the face of the father, his eyes penetrated mine. I’ve never seen such despondency, hopelessness, and despair before in my entire life. Although his eyes were empty, his countenance was reaching out for me to tell him the reason he was sitting in that funeral home pew was a bad dream and that what had just happened really didn’t happen. But, I couldn’t and neither could anyone else.
Suicide affects the family, friends, and acquaintances. It even affects those who have no connection to the suicide through reading about it or hearing about it. It is a tragedy that brings sadness to so many. The “why” question dwells in the minds of all. Thoughts swirl in the mind of those who knew the victim.
“I wish I would have kept in close contact.”
“What could I have done to prevent this senseless act?”
“Why didn’t I see it coming?”
“Why, why, why?”
In questioning this tragedy, I decided to research suicides in the Bible. I found seven people who committed suicide. This list may not be exhaustive, but it gives a glimpse into the workings of the human mind and maybe, just maybe, it will help others.
Judas Iscariot hanged himself.
Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. He was the treasurer for the disciples. He was responsible for their funds and distributing them as needed. He betrayed Jesus by leading Jewish officials to him in order to receive 30 silver coins. Once he discovered that the Jews were going to kill Jesus, he brought the money back to the Jewish officials and threw it on the temple floor. Many say Judas’ motivation was greed. No matter what his true motivation was, it was obvious he regretted his action. Not knowing how to handle that regret and remorse resulted in him hanging himself.
And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:5
Examples of Present Day Regret: Not having enough confidence in oneself; regret in chosen occupation; breakups; loved one passes away.
Abimelech, Son of Gideon ordered his armor-bearer to kill him.
Abimelech ruled Israel for three years. Some say that he should not be counted as a king because he was not anointed by God. During his reign, he destroyed the city of Shechem. After that, he attacked the city of Thebez. During that siege, a woman dropped a millstone on his head, wounding him. He was embarrassed that he would be known as being killed by a woman, so he asked his armor-bearer to kill him. And, the armor-bearer did.
Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. Judges 9:54
Examples of Present Day Humiliation: Embarrassed by friends or family members; depression; lack of self-confidence; embarrassed by abuse; bullying; mental illness; feeling of hopelessness; shame.
Samson caused a disaster and killed himself along with others.
Samson was a Judge of the tribe of Dan. He was chosen by Jewish leaders before Israel chose to have Kings. Due to being a Nazarite, his life was dedicated to God. He was known for his Herculean strength. He is most famous for his Philistine wife Delilah who continually betrayed and humiliated him. She eventually shaved Samson’s hair off and the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. He was put in prison. He was called out of prison to be made fun of again. He was tied to pillars and he pulled down the entire temple. The temple collapsed destroying both his life and the lives of many others.
And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. Judges 16:30
Examples of Present Day Bullying: Friends making fun of each other; being laughed at; being bullied for one’s weaknesses (appearances, intelligence); being made fun of behind one’s back; being nagged.
King Saul fell on his own sword.
King Saul was Israel’s first king. He tried to overtake the city of Bethsham. He wanted complete control over the trade routes. But, the armies of the Philistines fought against the men of Saul. They killed Saul’s three sons: Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua. Saul was wounded in the battle. He asked his armor-bearer to slay him, but he wouldn’t, so he fell on his sword.
Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore, Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 1 Samuel 31:1-4
Examples of Present Day Fear: Desire to be free of pain; terminal illnesses; fear of being mocked, fear of possible abuse, actual verbal abuse; actual physical abuse; sexual ridicule; mocked for being poor, handicapped, judged; fear of mistreatment.
Witnessing Violence or Death
Saul’s armor-bearer fell on his own sword.
The purpose of an armor bearer in the Bible was to be by their king’s side during dangerous times. Armor bearers were chosen by kings because they were supposed to be known as very brave people. Possibly, Saul’s armor-bearer could not deal with the guilt of disobeying King Saul’s command to kill him or maybe he couldn’t accept that he just witnessed the violent death of someone else – King Saul.
And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 1 Samuel 31:5
Examples of Present Day Witnessing Violence or Death: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; witnessing abuse (domestic or otherwise); being traumatized by witnessing natural disasters; being traumatized by witnessing another suicide; guilt they could have made a difference in someone’s decision to take their own life; terrorism.
Ahithopel planned his suicide, put his house in order, and hanged himself.
Ahithopel was King David’s counselor. But, at one point, he deserted King David and went to serve King David’s son Absolom. Hushai was known to be Absalom’s friend and trusted counselor. Absalom valued Hushai’s counseling skills more than Ahithophel’s skills. That disturbed Ahithophel, so he went home to Giloh, put his house in order, then hanged himself.
When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father. 2 Samuel 17:23
Examples of Present Day Powerlessness: Being insulted; not being viewed as worthy or important; jealous of other people (co-workers, family members, peers); elder abuse; being talked about behind your back; inability to break a drug habit; not being respected.
Zimri killed himself and others by fire.
Zimri was a chariot commander. He murdered King Elah and all his family in Tirzah. He succeeded King Elah as king, but only for seven days. The army elected Omri as king instead of him. He wanted power and was distressed that the army was going to besiege Tirzah. He was unable to cope regarding the besiege of Tirzah and the loss of position so he set the palace on fire killing himself along with many others.
And when Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire and died. 1 Kings 16:18
Examples of Present Day Distress: Loss of job; unemployment; grades; death of a family member or someone close; divorce; injury; being abused; being neglected; trouble with the law; alcoholism; not getting into the college of choice; pressure to be someone you aren’t; moral distress; comparing your situation to others.
To all who are reading this article, remember that all problems can be fixed. The only problem that can’t be fixed is suicide.
If you recognize any of these examples in your life or in the faces of those you come in contact with, please get help. Don’t wait. It may be too late, and we don’t want that. And, if for some reason, you do encounter a suicide and are having a hard time dealing with it (which happens to a lot of people), please get some counseling. Talk to a friend, spouse, parent, mentor, minister, or professional counselor. Let’s try as much as we can to help others so we don’t have to experience the despondency, hopelessness, and despair in the faces of those left behind.
Bible Verses: Above
Prayer: O LORD, suicide is tough. It’s so final. Lord, help me to always realize that there are always ways out of my problems and impress upon me that Your Holy Spirit and love can be my source of hope. Let me never be on the receiving end of a loved one’s suicide, but if I am please give me Your strength to deal with the situation. I pray for those in the midst of this suffering. I lift their heart and soul to you. Give them your comfort and love as no one or anything can. Keep my soul healthy in you. Let me call out for help when I need it and let me recognize those who need my help before it is too late. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
Losch, Richard. All the People in the Bible: An A-Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2008.
Miller, Stephen. Who’s Who & Where’s Where in the Bible? Uhrichsville: Barbour, 2012.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version containing the Old and New Testament. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001. [All verses come from the English Standard Bible unless noted otherwise]
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