Distress and Melissa," writes Frank Page, "were rarely very far away from each other." Some sources of that distress, like cancer, were beyond her control, but sinful habits and destructive life choices also played a pivotal role. Distress and Melissa would remain entwined until Page's daughter, one of three, committed suicide at age 32. After years of grief, Page, a longtime pastor and former Southern Baptist Convention president, has decided to tell his family's story in Melissa: A Father's Lessons from a Daughter's Suicide (B&H). CT associate editor Matt Reynolds spoke with Page about Melissa's turbulent life, the aftermath of her suicide, and the challenge of shepherding other fragile families through seasons of darkness.
How would you describe your daughter?
Melissa is little in stature, about 98 pounds of pure fire. She is a vivacious young lady who lit up the room with her smile and endeared herself to others. But she is also a young lady who, from early on, struggled in many areas of her life. The struggles never stopped. They changed in nature sometimes, and in their severity, but she struggled her whole life.
You certainly don't present an airbrushed portrait of Melissa. How were you able to be so candid about the chronic patterns of sin and disobedience in her life?
I felt that if this book was really going to touch a lot of lives, it was going to have to be transparent. For over two years after Melissa's death, I was not transparent about her. I didn't lie, and if someone wanted to talk about her, I certainly did. But I really began realizing that if this book was going to make a true impact—and hopefully among people considering suicide themselves—I needed to be honest. In the Christian community, ...