Guest / Limited Access /
Staying Alive in a Suicidal World
iStock

When family pastor George "DB" Antrim III took his own life this May, he left behind a wife of 17 years and two sons, the youth group he had led for two years, and, indeed, the whole community of Waukee, Iowa. His was the first death Westwind Church had faced in its five years. "I had no idea how horrific that day would be," said pastor Brandon Barker, who read aloud Antrim's suicide note one Sunday morning as congregants wept openly.

Antrim's death was the latest in what is being called a "rash" of pastor suicides: the Illinois pastor who shot himself in front of his mother and son last fall; the Georgia pastor who took his life in between worship services; and Isaac Hunter, the Orlando pastor who killed himself last December amid a church resignation and divorce. In a note he wrote two years ago, Hunter epitomized one of the great lies of suicide: "I have become what I never wished to be, a burden on those I love the most."

Suicide—and its frequent companions, depression and despair—has received renewed attention among U.S. church leaders. At a conference this March that drew 9,000, Rick Warren called mental illness "the last taboo," and recently it hasn't seemed that taboo at all. High-profile pastors Perry Noble and John Mark Comer have written candidly about their wrestling matches with depression. About half of self-identified evangelicals now say more than prayer and Bible study are needed to defeat mental disturbances. Efforts like Duke's Clergy Health Initiative target the risks involved when a pastor's well-being depends on ministry "success." We've put programs and hotlines in place.

These are all good, but the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueReply All
Reply All
Readers respond to the May issue via letters, tweets, and blogs.
RecommendedStop Snacking on ‘Scripture McNuggets’
Stop Snacking on ‘Scripture McNuggets’
A Bible expert diagnoses the bad habits that keep us from feasting on God’s Word.
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
Staying Alive in a Suicidal World
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.