Suicide and depression among Christians: What can the church do better?

 Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Article By J. Lee // EEW Magazine Mental Health Awareness

Many of us have heard the statistic that more than 19 million Americans each year struggle with depression.

But, for some reason, plenty of folks believe that individuals within the faith community are excluded from that alarming number released by Mental Health America.

Sadly, they are not.

The recent suicide of megachurch pastor, Andrew Stoecklein, of Inland Hills Church in Chino, California, has forced Christians everywhere to reexamine our views once again.

 Andrew Stoecklein and his family (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Andrew Stoecklein and his family (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Countless believers, in both pews and pulpits are battling in their mind and emotions, and sadly, some are losing.

So then, what can the church do better? What are we missing?

For one, mental illness must be de-stigmatized in Christendom says GRAMMY® Award-winning gospel singer, Michelle Williams, who first revealed her depression fight in 2013.

In July, she confirmed she was doing “better” after checking into a mental health facility to seek treatment for her ongoing battle with depression. According to the 38-year-old singer and mental health advocate, she shares her battle hoping to “normalize this discussion.”

If the church doesn’t open its eyes and move to action, suicides will continually increase with the faith community.

According to The Christian Post, the 30-year-old California pastor, who had severe struggles with anxiety, panic attacks and depression, had taken a four month sabbatical to get better. Unfortunately, he could not overcome his battle.

Pastor Stoecklein attempted to take his life inside the church last Friday. He died the next day from his self-inflicted wounds.

It remains clear that Williams’ advocacy is critical and Stoecklein’s death, though tragic, serves as a necessary wake up call.

Need depression help? 

TheHopeLine.com or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).