An Important Perspective On Suicide

Occasionally we get readers on this site who confess to us that they are wrestling with thoughts of suicide. Our ability to respond in those situations is very limited, so we are often deeply troubled knowing that some of you are struggling in this area. If suicide is on your mind, we want to know that the very next step you should take is to reach out to a wise Christian mentor or friend who can help you get some help. After you've taken that step, we want to help you think through the ramifications of choosing to take your own life. Specifically, we want to highlight that suicide is a permanent decision based on what is likely a very temporary problem, and it leaves a path of destruction in the lives of those impacted that cannot be undone. To help us with this delicate topic, we interviewed Kim Jaggers. Kim is a speaker and author who knows painfully well the mark suicide leaves. Her husband committed suicide 15 years ago. Here is her story. Pay close attention to the lasting impact of suicide.

Erin: Can you describe, in brief, the circumstances of your husband's death?

Kim: It will be fifteen years this September 5th, but some days it seems like just yesterday. I don't know if it is the feel in the air, but those painful emotions seem so much closer this time of year. Though so much time has passed, I can still hear the words of the detective as he told me, "We have found your husband's truck. There is a body inside and visual identification is not possible." What had been a happy, fairy-tale life had become a nightmare in the year preceding my husband's suicide. At twenty-one, I had married the man of my dreams. He was my best friend and incredibly gorgeous. Tall, dark, and handsome, he had been the president of his senior class, played college football, and had somehow fallen in love with me ... the somewhat clumsy, incredibly insecure math-geek. Fast forward to a huge wedding, successful careers, a big house in the country, and a new baby boy—life seemed perfect for a while. But through a series of tragic events—the very premature birth of our second son, the loss of our finances and our home, and constant stays at the hospital while our baby fought for his life—I grew closer to Jesus than ever before, but Rick turned to cocaine and became horribly addicted. A few short weeks after he made a profession of faith and during life-threatening surgery for our second son, Rick drove to a warehouse owned by his company, filled his truck with carbon monoxide, and took his life. From receipts, I know he was using cocaine shortly before he died ... but there was no note. At twenty-six, I found myself alone with two little boys—one aged three and one fighting for his life who had just turned one.

Erin: What was the immediate impact on your family?

Kim: Suicide is devastating and has so many victims. My mind was filled with what-ifs ... what if I had stopped him from leaving alone that day? What if I had been better at assuring him all would be okay? To silly things like what if I had cooked better or if my hair looked better? The Enemy tried to use everything to get me down and keep me down. I constantly wondered if I could raise two boys alone, and I even wondered if it would be better if I took my life so they could have a two-parent family. Every day was a battle to take every thought captive to the truth of God's Word. Suicide is a permanent "solution" to a temporary problem. My son's health improved. God provided for us in so many ways and we grew stronger in our walk with Him, but it was not easy. It was gut wrenching for us and all who knew Rick. His parents were devastated, and everyone who knew him felt some sense of guilt or "what-if." I even remember seeing one of his friends who stopped me to say he really felt bad for not playing golf with Rick more and wondered if that would have helped him not do what he did. My little boys were also full of questions and a desperate need to have a father figure in their life. They would manage to talk to every man we saw everywhere even in the line at Walmart. Suicide also has a terrible stigma. When people learn that I was a widow, they often ask, "How did your husband die?" Oh, how I wish I could say in a car wreck or he had a heart attack. The moment I tell them he took his life, there is an awkward silence followed by an apology for asking. I have even been apologized to in a crowd before after someone tells a "suicide joke." My boys have felt the same sense of shame when people ask about their dad. As much as I would like for them to just focus on the good (and there was lots of it) with their dad, there is always that deep hurt and stigma associated with the way his life ended.

Erin: What has been the lasting impact on you and your family?

Kim: Suicide is a horrible thing to sentence anyone to ... and the family suffers the most. Ben (who is my youngest and had been so sick) has asked me more than once if it is his fault that Rick took his life. Can you imagine the heavy burden this thought could place on a young person? My other son, Will, has sat choking back tears in a class at his Christian school where the class debated whether someone who took their life is in heaven or hell. I still have people who think I should have seen warning signs or done more to prevent Rick from taking his life. Yet for all the hard, gut-wrenching moments, God has brought good. My boys and I talk often about the fact that we have a choice: we can allow the Enemy to get us down and keep us down, we can grow bitter, or we can allow God to use what Satan intended for evil for good. Through our pain, we have all grown closer to God the Father than I ever thought possible. God has brought beauty from ashes, and He has brought ministry. We all know our peace comes not from how good our circumstances are but rather from how close we are walking with God. We all know life is hard and that we need Him daily. God is our run-to ... He is daily bread and He is faithful. He has never left us and never forsaken us. He is strength to go on no matter how crazy life gets. He has proven every word He says in His Bible true. He loves us with a perfect love, and He is hope when life seems hopeless. And I think we all count our blessings even more. Will (18) and Ben (16) are incredibly handsome, smart young men with great senses of humor who have a real relationship with Jesus. They love him and they stand strong in a world in which that is hard to do. I think going through so much when they were little has helped them to do that. God has blessed us with an incredible husband and father, Deron Jaggers, who loves God with all his heart and a wonderful little sister, Abi Grace. Life isn't perfect, some days are still hard, but God is our Rock.

Note: Check out the second half of Kim's interview tomorrow.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.