Suicide Doesn’t Help

Carol and I had been at the Niagara Falls for five minutes when the State Trooper walked up and asked, “Sir, I don’t understand a thing any these folks are saying, but you look like you speak English. Have you heard anything about a man jumping over the edge?”

“No, sir. I’ve been here for about five minutes, and I haven’t heard anything about that.”

 “The rumor is that he jumped over about seven minutes ago. If you hear anything about it, I’d appreciate it if you’d find me and let me know. I’ll be in the State Trooper booth over there.”

“Yes, sir. Will do.”

An estimated 12,000,000 people visit the Falls annually, and every year about 40 people are killed going over the Falls – most of them suicides. The horrendous water pressure mangles the person against the rocks below and sometimes the bodies are never found.

We walked to the railing that is supposed to keep people out of the Niagara River. Here is basic information about the Falls.

The water plunges onto the rocks and slowly erodes the cliff at the rate of less than a foot per year. The confluence from the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls creates the large whirlpool below. The American Niagara plunges down a total of 167-188 feet (depending on the specific location), but the water hits the mound of boulders around 70-110 feet.

The river flows about 25 miles per hour with an average of 150,000 gallons going over the edge each second; but the highest recorded volume was about 700,000 gallons per second. Its speed is estimated to be 68 mph as it hits the jagged boulders with multiple tons of pressure.

On the lighter side: As I read other information about the five Great Lakes, the Niagara River, and the Falls, I leaned back and laughed. For an unknown number of centuries, the Laurentide Ice Sheet covered Canada and a portion of the Northern US. According to one theory, the last ice age ended about 18,000 years ago, and the ice sheet which gouged out the lakes began receding.

I read: “20,000 years ago, earth started to warm, and the Laurentide Ice Sheet began to disappear. By approximately 10,500 BC, the Niagara Peninsula was free of the ice.”

This is why I laughed. Man is accused of causing global warming, but man wasn’t capable of generating substantial local heat until about 1500 BC, and no substantial regional heat until the 1700s AD. But the ice sheet began melting around 18,000 BC.

If man wasn’t the culprit 20,000 years ago, what caused the global warming back then? For that matter, what caused the earth to warm and freeze to generate the multiple theoretical ice ages? If the earth can cool and warm by itself, why blame man now? This is simple logic and easy to think through.

Back to Niagara Falls.

Carol and I spent the next four hours looking at the beauty and wondering about the power of nature on this spot on the map in northwest New York. Standing on the observation tower several hundred yards away or at the railing a few feet from the water’s edge, the sight of the water plunging over the edge and the roar of the cascading water crashing on the rocks was almost mesmerizing. Is that what prompted the man to take the leap? Or was it sorrow, loneliness, embarrassment, or emotional pain that prompted him to end his life?

The Niagara Falls is called The Honeymoon Capital of the World, so why do so many people end their lives here?

For the western mindset, the thought might be, I just can’t take the pain any longer; I’ll end it all. For the New Age or oriental religions, the mindset might be, This life hurts too much; perhaps it will be better next time.

But suicide neither solves nor ends any problems; it only creates more. Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “Just as everyone must die once and then be judged, so Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of the people. And he will come a second time, not to offer himself for sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Suicide will not help anyone, but Jesus can help whoever asks Him for help. Turn to God, and to friends, for help, comfort, and direction for life, because you are loved. Your life is valuable, and people need you.

John 3:16: For God so loved the [people in the] world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Enjoying Life

When we lived in the hills in northern New Mexico, we had two dogs and a cat. Both dogs were larger than the cat, but the cat was still in charge. They grew up together and had no traditional cat-dog animosity. In fact, they loved each other. The dogs were Flicka and Tyke (Flicka was Tyke’s mama), and the cat was Tiggy. The family called her Tig. I called her Critter, but today we’ll go with the family name.

One day when I returned home from work, I saw Tig stalking something – or someone. I slowly got out of the car and crept up to look over the white picket fence.

The cat’s eyes were intensely focused, her belly was barely touching the ground, and her tail was twitching as she ever-so-slowly inched her way forward. Her target? A hapless Tyke, taking a nap about 22 feet away.

I almost held my breath, waiting to see what Tig would do.

Suddenly, like an F/A 18 Super Hornet being catapulted from the deck of the USS Reagan, Tig bolted toward Tyke! Reaching the sleeping victim in a second, she leapt over him, smacking him on the rump with her right front paw as she flew over. As she touched down, Tyke, jerked out of sleep, was up and after her. He instinctively knew the game.

But Tig had it all figured out. Her attack was not intended to include a chase this time, but to show superiority. By the time Tyke could get out an obligatory bark, but before he could generate any momentum, Tig was up the tree that was five feet away.

I can still see it: Tyke standing on his hind legs with his front paws against the tree, vociferously discussing things with the cat; while Tig, hanging onto the tree by her needle-sharp talons about eight feet off the ground, looked down and issued a gentle hiss at the dog. The hiss is translated as, “I win – again.”

 In a few minutes the game was over. Tyke asked for his evening dinner while Tig enjoyed a few minutes in the arms of her adoring owner: our daughter, Rebecca.

Do you enjoy life like that? No, I’m not inferring that you are an animal. Do you take time out of your busy life to have fun?

With all the stuff going on in the world – for example: one mighty nation invading a much smaller peaceful neighbor, people committing murder in the name of their religion, people manifesting intolerance while demanding tolerance from others, people insisting on political correctness while simultaneously distaining common sense, and more – it is sometimes difficult to find time to enjoy a happy moment; but it is possible, and necessary.

Some years ago dad and mom came to visit us. On the second day a gentle breeze was blowing, and dad said, “The temperature is just about right; how about a game of tennis? I’m here to take a break from my hectic schedule.”

We went to the court and began the contest. But within fifteen minutes it began raining. Not a gully-washer or a torrential downpour, but a gentle, refreshing drizzle that encourages rosebushes and lilies to blossom.

“Oh, goodnight! There goes our tennis game.”

“Why, dad? What’s wrong with playing with a wet ball? And with our new shoes, we won’t slip on the court.” Dad relented and we continued playing.

We played hard, and those balls looked like a sideways Saturn as the water spun off. After a half hour, the rain let up and the clouds parted.

“I haven’t had this much fun playing tennis in years. Where’d you learn to play in the rain?”

“You probably enjoyed it because you beat me.” I replied. “But you taught me long ago not to let little things bother me; and this rain was not a bother but a joy. We need the rain.”

“Thank you for learning and thank you for feeding it back to me. I needed the lesson, and YES! I enjoyed beating you.”

We laughed, got dried off and I treated dad to a chocolate milkshake. That was the price for losing. But spending time with dad was never a waste of time. We enjoyed being together.

Do you know that our Heavenly Father enjoys it when we spend time with Him? Hebrews 13:5 quotes Jesus saying, “I’ll never leave you.” That statement alone should give us a great sense of security.

There is nothing we can do about many problems in the world, but we can place our trust in Jesus. Then no matter what happens in the world, when we die we will be with Him forever. Rain or shine, enjoy the time with God as you study the Bible and honor Him in everything you do.

Memory & Mental Health

In 2018, Carol & I were in Young Harris, Georgia, at the USS Yorktown CV-5 Survivor’s Club Reunion.

The purpose of a reunion is to socialize with friends and family, help us remember an event, or to celebrate the life of a person. The original purpose of the Yorktown reunions was to give the survivors of the USS Yorktown at the Battle of Midway (June 3-7, 1942) opportunities to share memories of life on board the ship – including experiences of the hell that erupted during battle – as well as memories of life’s experiences after the war.

Dad was stationed on the Yorktown from 1939 to June of 1942. In 1953 dad reentered the US Navy as a chaplain, and after retirement became chaplain of the CV-5 survivor’s club. I had the privilege of attending several reunions with dad and enjoyed hearing the ‘war-stories’ the men told.

Although most of the Yorktown veterans endured horrific experiences during the bombing, strafing, and torpedoing, those who freely shared their memories with others suffered much less mental anguish about it. The freedom to talk about the events often reduces PTSD. Visiting memorials and sharing memories with others is therapeutic, and aids in positive mental health which, in turn, can remove the need for long-term counseling.

Years ago, a man racing a 595-pound, 1200cc Kawasaki motorcycle at 95 mph plowed broadside into a Datsun (predating the Nissan) that our son, Ron, was driving. The wreck splintered the bike, killed the biker, destroyed the Datsun, and sent our kids to the hospital.

Ron was 16 years old and I didn’t want an emotional scar to develop, so I encouraged him to talk about what he experienced. As Ron initially related everything he remembered about the accident, we took many pictures of the aftermath; and every day for two weeks, I asked him to talk about it. At first, it was difficult. Then we discussed the event several times a week for a month. He relived, analyzed, and discussed the incident until he could narrate the event objectively – without emotional pain

The result? He has clear memories of the event and is sad about it, but he has no emotional scars and no mental trauma to overcome.

Those who will not talk about or share their feelings should at least write them down. Write out your experiences in as much detail as you can.

A good friend up north was having severe marital problems, but he would not violate his vows and did not want to hurt the children. Not willing to talk about it to anyone, he quietly, secretly, and in great detail, wrote his anxieties, emotions, bitterness, and frustrations as letters to himself. After writing each letter, he read it to himself – sometimes tearfully and in pain – then sealed it in an envelope and hid it. Each week he sealed another envelope, and never opened any of them again. Although he didn’t share the letters or his feelings with anyone else, he continually asked God to help him.

After several years he overcame the problems that plagued him and he was healed. He didn’t forget the problems. In fact, refusing to bury or hide them, he acknowledged his emotional struggles and communicated to God about it all. Then he asked the Lord to help him forgive his wife.

The situation improved and years later he died a happily-married man. As a side note: his wife didn’t change much. It was the process of opening up and releasing the problems – and forgiving her – that enabled him to accept his wife as she was and receive his healing.

Sharing memories with others can release emotional pressure and help maintain or regain positive mental health. But be sensitive to others. Don’t badger or bore them. Be willing to listen as well as to speak.

Forgiving and not holding grudges, and talking about problems in a positive manner, is similar to disinfecting a wound: the memory bank is cleansed and emotions are healed.

But also consider Philippians 4:6-7; “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

So spend time with family and friends, develop good memories as you enjoy life. Your happy memories will be one of your most important blessings in later life.

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