Do they wish they were aborted? Do they consider suicide?
If you’ve entertained the thought of taking your life, let me introduce you to some special people.
Nancy weighed only 49 pounds when I met her and she never walked. Her husband of 25 years was her feet. She was his eyes.
A spunky little woman, usually filled with joy, one day her anger perked to the top. A young man crippled in a recent accident petitioned the courts for his nursing home attendants to help him take his life.
Nancy’s brilliant eyes blazed as she waved a tiny finger. “That is wrong! Some people think I don’t have much of a life. But it’s the only life I have and I enjoy every minute of it!”
Because of her debilitating congenital muscle condition, she could barely brush her own teeth, but on her wall a beautiful embroidered needlepoint of “The Lord’s Prayer” testified of her gumption. First-place Colorado State Fair ribbons still attached testified to the expert embroidery work.
Nancy worked in her church and several local organizations. She and her husband bowled. He placed her ball, and she pushed it off. She helped him aim his ball so he could hit the pins.
NOT DEAD YET
In my work as a newspaper reporter I met many incredible handicapped people. Among them were members of “Not Dead Yet,” a disability rights group formed to oppose the movement to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Those in the group affected by cerebral palsy and other debilitating diseases were difficult for me to understand, but their friends could understand and interpreted for me. They had spunk beyond what I could imagine, and most spoke about how they enjoyed living, although they weren’t like everyone else.
As with the Apostle Paul, they decided to say, “Whatever state I am, I will be content.”
I used to go through the coroner’s copies of death certificates and saw many suicides among them. I frequently reported health statistics, which included suicides for our city.
SUICIDES AMONG THE ELDERLY
As tragic as it is for even one young person to kill himself, you might be surprised to learn that teens don’t have the highest suicide rate. Almost three times more elderly white men end their lives with their own actions than the overall rate.
Suicide begins increasing after age 65. Researchers point to the elderly men’s lack of resilience or coping abilities, or they choose more lethal means of suicide.
My dad became deeply depressed after he was admitted to a nursing home.
“I’m no good to anybody,” he complained.
Redhead that I am I said, “Don’t be funny. You haven’t even finished raising your family yet.”
He looked at me as if I’d lost my senses. All eight of his children and his two step-children were out on their own, taking care of themselves.
“You’re showing us how to grow old,” I told Dad. I could see a light glisten in his eyes. He knew what I was talking about.
For the first time he realized he was modeling the truths of our faith as well as how to make the difficult choices when our health fails. I didn’t tell him, but I knew a family history of suicide puts others at risk for the same behavior.
A HAPPY OLD LADY
Besides the handicapped, I remember a frail elderly lady who spent hours every day on the phone calling people to deliver a little sunshine into their lives. She had a list of phone numbers and hundreds of birthdays, anniversaries, but she called, sang little songs, or read encouraging verses on Christmas and other holidays. When she met me, she put me on the list. Sometimes she found a name where someone was hospitalized or ill, and she’d call with encouragement.
EXAMPLES OF GREATNESS
In my work as a reporter, I interviewed movie stars, politicians, even a member of the Supreme Court, covered presidents’ and first ladies’ speeches, National Football League players and coaches, but the people I remember most are the ordinary folks whose lives reflect their faith in God and love—especially the incredible people who chose to be content despite uncomfortable circumstances, health problems, disabilities or age.
In my eyes, these folks lived examples of greatness.
Have you thought of suicide because of your physical condition or limitations? Even if you haven’t, you are at risk, especially if you lose your health, become handicapped or experience other heartache or emotional trauma in your life.
In The Ten Commandments God told us not to kill, and that includes killing ourselves. But He did not leave us comfortless. When Jesus went away, He sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter, guide, and to give us power over the enemy of our souls (Acts 1 and John 14). Furthermore, He promised never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6 and He doesn’t.
©Ada Brownell 2012