Father vs. father

A capital letter some times means a whole lot.  My father was born in 1936 is a pretty self explanatory statement.  “Our Father which art in Heaven” speaks of someone totally different.  What I have observed through the years is that our fathers so often have had more of an impact on our lives than our Father has.  For the person who hasn’t come to a personal relationship with God the Father through the completed work of Jesus that is not difficult to understand.

At the same time there are many of us who do have a relationship with God the Father where that same statement holds true.  Having lived that life I would not share that truth with anyone in a way to condemn.  Neither would God.  I share that truth simply as a statement of fact.  There is one who would seek to beat us up with many statements of fact and that is the enemy of our souls, satan.

Revelation 12:10  And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night

Satan has been busy through the centuries seeking to run roughshod over us.  He is tireless in his efforts and employs the help of his minions in seeking to accomplish his goals.

He also works well in using other people to do what he can to hurt us in any way possible.  Those people include friends, strangers, and even our own parents.  For many of us our father’s were the source of much pain and sorrow in our youth.  That pain came in various forms which I need not list here.  Yet the damage that was done in our youth has left an indelible imprint on our spirits.  Some of us have experienced victory over that damage while others have yet to.

Ephesians 6:4  And fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they be discouraged.

Many of us were not brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Many of us were discouraged because of our fathers.  As a result some of us have always had a distorted image of who we are in Christ.  Instead of seeing ourselves as new creations we managed to maintain untruths about ourselves.  These untruths are deep seeded and God would desire to set each of us free from the shackles of our past.

Matthew 11:28  Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29  Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Matthew 11:30  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

The above verses in Matthew were primarily for the Jews who struggled under the heavy burden of the law.  I don’t see that Jesus restricted who could come to Him for the rest He alone can offer. All are invited to come and all are promised rest.  We see the same admonition in the book of Psalms.

Psalm 55:22  Cast your burden on Jehovah, and He will keep you; He will never allow the righteous to waver.

In Matthew, Jesus invites us to give up one yoke for another.  One we were never meant to carry.  The other is very light.  Jesus says to learn of Him.  As we learn about Jesus we will also learn about ourselves.  Much of what Jesus has to say is for us and as we become familiar with His words we see His infinite love for us.

One thing we come to learn as believers is we are a part of one huge loving family made up of others just like ourselves; sinners saved by grace through faith.  God has placed each of us in this body to carry out specific tasks.  What should a family be to one another?  We should be a source of help and encouragement.  We help one another sacrificially.  We utilize our gifts to build one another up just as God intended.

The pain many of us are experiencing is not something to be carried in silence.  If others don’t know your pain how can they seek to help you?  Sadly, some have shared their emotional pain only to be shot down with platitudes meant to encourage but in reality rub salt in an open wound.  Do not throw the baby out with the bath water!  Maybe this is the time God would have you reach out for the first time?  Maybe He’s asking you to reach out again?  Do know there are people in the body of Christ who care deeply for you.  If it be His will I pray you would seek out someone soon.

There are too many stories for my liking of father’s who did not carry out their duty as a parent.  Instead they abused that authority to varying degrees.  Some in unspeakable ways.  What some have experienced I will never be able to comprehend and I will never seek to say I do.  My heart goes out to you though.

Some visit this blog as a result of events from their youth.  There are wounds yet to be healed.  What I can do is point you to the one who suffered more than any of us ever have or ever will.  And out of that suffering He made provision for us to become children of the living God and recipients to ALL of the promises He has left for us.

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:2  looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:3  For consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in your minds.

Many of you are burdened and weighed down.  I so wish I had a magic formula to take your pain away.  Yet I realize that very well isn’t the will of God for you.  We are in this thing called life together even if through a blog.  There are no barriers for God and He can work through a place such as this.  Why?  Because He is God.

Many have been hurt by the one who should have protected us.  For many, including myself, those experiences colored how I related to our Heavenly Father.  I pray that God would do more than we might dare to imagine as we cling to Him with what faith we have.

I would like to close with a song from years ago.  It’s the song a father wrote for his son.  Keith Green and his son Josiah died in an airplane crash before the song was released.

Thoughts On Suicide: Larry Taylor

Suicide is not a comfortable topic for any of us.  Yet it is a grim reminder of the reality of the world we live in.  Written in 1990 this article is still relevant today.  Larry speaks with the experience of having lost his oldest son to suicide in 1986.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Their website is located    HERE.  The National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH)  has more up to date statistics located   HERE.

2000 by Lawrence Russell Taylor, Ph.D

Suicide is not a subject anyone much likes to think or talk about, and whenever we suicide survivors bring it up, we are thought to be obsessed by people who wish we would “just get over it and move on”; and simultaneously thought to be less than edifying by fellow believers. Assuredly, we are moving on with our lives in ways that are hopefully meaningful, and, as ministers of the Gospel, it is certainly our desire to uplift the Body the Christ. However, edification of the believers does not involve ignoring and refusing to address the problems in society; indeed, our biblical mandate is to directly confront society’s ills with the healing of Christ. There may be no balm in Gilead, but there certainly is in Jesus. Those of us who have lost loved ones to suicide are not obsessed or unable to move on, we are personally aware of an area where the church has historically failed to minister appropriately and biblically. Our concern is no different than the concern of those who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, had a child killed by a drunk driver, or who are involved for personal reasons in the American Heart Association or in promoting cancer research and cures. We are seeking to comfort others with the same comfort with which God has comforted us, and we are simultaneously seeking to educate those not touched by our tragedy so that, cognizant of the need, they can respond biblically.

Suicide is a monumental problem in American society, and the epidemiological information becomes particularly poignant when we take the time to realize that every suicide statistic represents a wasted life and a death that left behind scores of hurting people. Death certificate information from the National Center for Health Statistics, coupled with population based psychological autopsy studies, show that suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States (as of 1999 – the last year for which statistics are available), up from ninth place five years earlier, and now ranking behind heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, accidents, pneumonia and influenza, and diabetes mellitus. In 1999, there were 30,535 deaths by suicide, which is an age-adjusted death rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 population – a number that is probably lower than reality because suicide is sometimes underreported to protect the reputation of families. Suicide rates are highest in the mountain areas of the western United States, with Nevada having the highest overall rate, and Alaska the second highest; they are lowest in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Speculation abounds as to why the western area of the country is higher than the rest of the nation in suicide rates, with theories including the ready availability of firearms, western individualism, displaced families and lack of support systems due to transience.

Although women attempt suicide more often than men, men complete suicide far more often than women because men generally choose more lethal means, usually firearms, while women more often attempt suicide by poisoning themselves with medications which allow for medical intervention. Nationwide, about 60% of all suicides are completed using firearms. The highest rate of suicide in African-American, Native American and Native Alaskan populations occurs in men between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine. The rate of suicide among children and adolescents has risen dramatically over the last forty years – quadrupling between 1950 and 1990; it is the fourth leading cause of death (after accidents, cancer and homicide) in adolescent and young adult females, (age 15-24), the third leading cause of death among males age 15-24 (behind accidents and murder), the sixth leading cause of death (after accidents, malignancies, congenital anomalies, homicide, and heart disease) in girls age five to fourteen, the fourth leading cause of death among boys age 5-14 (after accidents, cancer and murder), the fifth leading cause of death among female 25 to 44 year-olds (after cancer, accidents, heart disease and HIV), the third leading cause of death among males age 25-44 (after accidents and heart disease), the ninth leading cause of death among women age 45-64 (after cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, accidents, liver disease, and pneumonia/influenza), and the seventh leading cause of death among men age 45-64 (behind heart disease, cancer, accidents, cerebrovascular disease, liver disease, and diabetes). Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death among African American children age 5-14 (after accidents, murder, cancer, congenital anomalies, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV, and anomies.); the third leading cause of death among black people age 15-24 (after murder and accidents); and the seventh leading cause of death among African Americans age 25-44 (after HIV, heart disease, accidents, murder, cancer, cerebrovascular disease). The rate of suicide in older adolescents has doubled in the last few years. It is the second most common cause of death among white males ages 15-44 (behind accidents), the second leading cause of death among white females age 15-24 (after accidents), the fourth leading cause of death among white women age 25-44 (after cancer, accidents and heart disease), and the third leading cause of death among white boys, age 5-14 (behind accidents and cancer).

A “one size fits all” approach to preventing suicide will not work. The causes of suicide are ubiquitous, and in the professional literature appear to include the increase in alcohol and drug abuse, the increase in depression, the increased availability of firearms, increased rates of divorce and family dissolution, increased numbers of working mothers, greater family mobility which cuts people off from larger extended family support systems, societal pressure on adolescents to act “grown up”, the breakdown of predictable support systems, the stratification of the social classes, society’s tolerance of violence, and the decline in religious practice and observance. In addition to suicide, other self-destructive behaviors are proliferating in adolescents – alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, self-mutilation, eating disorders, and dangerous and demeaning sexual practices, to name a few. Although suicide cannot be predicted in many instances, nor, sadly, prevented in all, it can be prevented in some.

In a recent paper entitled “Can Suicide Be Prevented? A Professional Journey” by Pamela Cantor, Ph.D., republished in the Harvard Medical School “Guide to Suicide Assessment and Intervention” (Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., Editor, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1999), Dr. Cantor, a lecturer in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School, former syndicated columnist for the LA Times, and a renowned expert on teen suicide, lists twelve likely factors involved in the possible prevention of suicide, viz.:

  1. Having a specific plan that is lethal combined with the availability of the means to complete suicide makes a person at very high risk. Somewhere between 18 and 38 percent of those who commit suicide have made a prior attempt, yet 90% of those who attempt suicide do not die that way.
  1. The more impulsive, anguished and agitated a person is, the greater his risk of suicide.
  1. Those unable to see any solution to their problems are at risk for suicide because they feel overwhelmed and have lost hope.
  1. Access to a lethal weapon, especially firearms (and most especially hand guns) increases the risk of suicide dramatically. In England, a popular method of committing suicide was by asphyxiation with home heating gas. By changing the lethal coke gas to a less lethal natural gas, the suicide rate dropped 33%, proving that suicidal people will not often switch to another means of killing themselves when their method of choice is denied them. Removing access to weapons, especially from the hands of impulsive teenagers, would most likely save lives just as the epidemiologists claim.
  1. Depression carries a lifetime risk of suicide of 15%.
  1. The suicide rate for those with panic disorders is high.
  1. Schizophrenics have a 10% lifetime risk of suicide.
  1. Borderline Personality Disorder carries a 7% lifetime risk.
  1. Alcoholism carries a 3% lifetime risk.
  1. Anyone who has identified with or witnessed someone who has committed suicide is at risk – the so-called “copy-cat” syndrome that occurs when a rash of suicides follows the suicide of a classmate or rock star.
  1. Post-traumatic stress disorder carries an increased risk of suicide.
  1. Anyone abusing alcohol or drugs is at high risk for suicide.

In other words, a person is at risk for suicide if she has no inner psychological strength to cope with problems, cannot envision a brighter future, and is convinced suicide is a viable option to end the misery. The suicidal person may be frustrated, angry, depressed, anxious, mentally ill, physically ill or disabled, but not necessarily. Her risk increases if she has a history of suicidal behavior, a family history of suicide, has witnessed a violent death, and has access to lethal weapons. The combination of being impulsive and angry is deadly in adolescents.

Although the scientific literature does not yet support my conclusions because few if any controlled studies have been done, I am convinced that other risk factors for increased suicide besides those mentioned above include suicidal music, occult oriented games like “Dungeons and Dragons”, occult and violent “slasher” films, the demise of the family unit and of organized religion, and the pervasive philosophy of biological science that asserts a naturalistic, mechanistic, materialistic view of the universe.

While recognizing that many suicides defy explanation and others do not fit into any specific categories, it appears, based on the best available evidence that the most common causes of suicide include:

  1. Agitation, anger and/or anguish coupled with impulsivity.
  1. The collected stress of difficult circumstances out of which the individual can see no hope of relief.
  1. Depression.
  1. Mental illness.
  1. Drug and alcohol abuse.
  1. A family history of suicide.
  1. Occult/violent games and themes in literature, music and entertainment.
  1. Access to lethal weapons.

How then can we help those around us who may be suicidal?

  1. First, determine the lethality of the one to whom you are speaking. If a person has a viable plan with which to kill themselves, as opposed to a vague unspecified death wish, and has the means to carry out that plan, they are highly lethal and should not be left alone. Instead, accompany them as quickly as possible to a mental health clinic, psychologist or psychiatrist who can assess the need and take appropriate action.
  1. Next, remove any means of committing suicide as much as you are able – clear the person’s home of guns and lethal weapons, alcohol and drugs, for example.
  1. Third, make the person aware of the sinfulness of her decision, and of its devastating and life-long effect on loved ones.
  1. Fourth, give them hope in the form of the Good News of Jesus Christ, who alone can fix any problem, and turn around any life. He is able to restore, forgive and redeem in the most adverse of circumstances.
  1. Help the person locate, afford, get involved with, and stay committed to high quality professional psychological and/or psychiatric intervention, including the diligent use of prescribed medications.
  1. Over the long term, be a friend – supportive, caring, listening to feelings, concerned, and forgiving of wrongs without allowing the suicidal individual to become unhealthfully dependent on you.
  1. Finally, involve yourself in the greater community-wide effort to reduce the number of suicides.

What then are the practical steps individual Christians and congregations of believers can take to help reduce the number of people who choose to end their lives?

  1. We can arrange our own homes, and encourage others to arrange theirs, so that no child, teenager, or impulsive, depressed, or mentally ill adult can ever have any access to any firearms. We need to be certain that not only are our homes gun-proof, but that the homes our children and teenagers visit are as well.
  1. We need to clear our homes of any Internet, television, video, musical, or other reference to the occult, suicidal ideation, and violent material.
  1. Together, we can campaign for and politically support candidates and legislation that will restrict the access of lethal weapons by teenagers and children, reduce the graphic violent content of music, videos, games, television and the World Wide Web, and increase suicide prevention interventions in communities.
  1. We can use our influence as family members, clergy and coworkers to strongly urge those around us who appear agitated or depressed to seek medical intervention and faithfully take any medication prescribed. Medical researches have recently discovered that low serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxy-indole-acetic acid (5-HIAA) and homovanillac acid (HVA) levels in the cerebrospinal fluid are associated with violent and aggressive behavior, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and suicide. Although psycobiochemistry is in its infancy as a science, these discoveries are almost certain to lead to effective medications that can be used to balance the brain chemistry of some suicidal people and thereby prevent death in some instances. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression) have long been successfully treated with medications.
  1. Together, we can campaign and lobby for an ubiquitous variety of effective interventions ranging from advertising and educational campaigns to treatment options, targeted at reducing substance abuse, particularly alcoholism.
  1. On the local level, we can influence the public and private schools in our neighborhoods to open their doors to suicide prevention and anti-violence education taught by both experts and people who have been personally affected by suicide.
  1. We can strive for more solid marital commitment to prevent divorce and family dissolution, teach coping techniques to married couples, and increase our involvement in the community of believers we call the church.
  1. We can teach our children and the adults in our churches the sinfulness of suicide, and its devastating effect on those left behind.

Indeed, suicide is a dreadful sin – it is probably the single most self-centered act a person can commit; an act that devastates innocent spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and relatives, and breaks the heart of the God of life. As believers, our response to the sin of suicide needs, however to reflect the love and infinite grace of the Cross by tenderly and effectively ministering to the broken and hurting, rather than condemning those weaker than the majority. The church’s response to suicide has historically been dismal. In the middle ages, the Church had accepted the doctrine that salvation came via good works and that therefore a person who committed suicide, because he did not have time to receive last rights, would be forever tormented in hell. Those who committed suicide were denied church funerals and burials, their property was confiscated, and their families were banished in disgrace. The Protestant church after the reformation did little to correct these errors, but instead continued with many of the same practices. Both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have since corrected their doctrine, but the disgrace of suicide remains in society today. It is precisely that disgrace that causes the powerful stigma associated with suicide and ruins the reputations of bereaved families. In formulating a Christian response, we first need to explore what the Scriptures say about suicide.

It is noteworthy that there are seven instances of suicide in the Bible that are recorded without comment as to the wrongness or sinfulness of the action, and with no mention in any case of what happened to the suicidal person’s soul after their self-imposed death. They are:

  1. Abimelech, a judge of ancient Israel, was mortally wounded when a woman of Thebez dropped a millstone on his head, and then asked his armor bearer to kill him so that he could avoid the disgrace of being killed by a woman. (Judges 9)
  1. Samson, blinded, defeated and bound by the Philistines due to his own rebelliousness to his Nazarite vow, killed himself by pulling the pagan temple down on himself and his enemies. (Judges 16)
  1. King Saul, defeated by his enemies, given to insane fits, fighting to maintain a position he should have resigned, fell on his own sword. (1 Samuel 31)
  1. King Saul’s armor bearer likewise fell on his sword out of loyalty to his master. (1 Samuel 31)
  1. Ahithophel, David’s counselor, was disgraced after he betrayed David to the usurper Absolom who then did not follow his advice, so he hanged himself. (2 Samuel 17)
  1. Zimri, a wicked king, died when he burnt down his own palace. (1 Kings 16)
  1. Judas, having betrayed Jesus, went and hanged himself, then his body fell and was broken on rocks below. (Acts 1)

Nowhere does the Bible indicate that a person who commits suicide is in hell; in fact, the eternal salvation of a person is not determined by how he dies, but by the atoning death and resurrection of Christ. Our salvation depends on what Jesus did, not what we do. Probably most believers die with some unconfessed sin of which they were not cognizant (and some they were aware of). Salvation is by grace, a free gift, not determined by a person’s ability to understand and confess sin. That is not to imply that suicide is all right; conversely, it is a hideous and selfish sin that wounds hearts deeply, but it is not an unforgivable sin. The only sin God cannot forgive is the refusal to be forgiven. In seeking to prevent suicide, I do not tell people they will go to hell if they kill themselves (who am I to make that judgment in any case?), but I do point out to them how deeply such an act will wound the innermost heart of God and all the people around them, and, if they are parents, how such an act will forever teach their children to escape life’s difficulties with self-violence. When I talk to those left behind after suicide, I can assure them of God’s infinite omnibenevolence and mercy, of His profound understanding of all the factors that go into the making of a particular human being, and that He is ready to forgive and embrace both here and in eternity on the other side of the veil of death.

In 1986, my oldest child Elliott killed himself at home with a 22-caliber rifle. He was not insane, had no history of mental illness or violent behavior, and gave no warning to his friends or family. His death was sudden, shocking and impulsive, and resulted in years of heartache, intrapsychic pain, familial trauma, social stigma, confusion, depression, anxiety, phobia, anger, sadness and grief for his siblings, parents, extended family and friends. Elliott’s decision to end his life while a junior in high school was a tragic, sinful, self-centered, hateful, wrong decision, but it was his decision, for which no one can take blame but him. Sinful as it was, however, it was not an unforgivable sin – his family has all forgiven him even though he wounded us deeply, and we are certain God has forgiven him also. After all, God’s willingness and ability to forgive far outshines ours.

One day, some months after his death, I was standing at his graveside weeping and hurting more deeply than I could have imagined possible, when I became somehow mystically aware of a holy Presence – Jesus was with me. I did not see or hear anything, no hallucinations or visions occurred, it was more an inner feeling than anything else – a feeling a skeptic would attribute to my parental grief. Nevertheless, in my heart I know the Presence was real and that my Lord was sobbing with me, doubled over with His arm about my shoulder, He wept like He did at Lazarus’ tomb, and in that instant, I knew that Elliott’s tragic decision had wounded the heart of God as deeply if not more deeply than it had my own. In a profound yet ineffable way, I understood that the universe was hard-wired in such a way that prevented God from preventing such tragedies, but that, far from aloof, He was touched by the feeling of our infirmities, a Man of sorrows and personally acquainted with grief who participates with us in our suffering with an empathy that is deep and lasting. At that realization, I stopped ranting against God for His failure in preventing Elliott’s death, and began to accept the participatory fellowship of His love.

In spite of our best efforts and most fervent prayers, some suicides will not be prevented and loved ones will be left behind to cope as best they can. When a person in your circle of acquaintances loses a loved one to suicide, you can help by:

  1. Being present with the bereaved person – just be there; you do not need to know what to say, in fact, you do not need to say anything, just be there and stay there; hold them, cry with them, hug them, weep with those who weep.
  1. Doing little things to help. When a loved one dies suddenly and tragically, we often feel overwhelmed and in a state of shock that makes even the most menial tasks difficult to accomplish. Having someone there to take out the trash, fix the meals, wash the dishes, do the laundry, pay the bills, and change the oil in the car, can be a great comfort.
  1. Knowing the stages of grief. Bereaved people universally feel hurt, sorrow, sadness, loneliness, loss, emptiness, isolation, confusion, anger, intrapsychic pain, fear, anxiety, numbness, seasons of denial, self-blame, victimized, and hopeless. Because everyone is an individual and no one had precisely the same relationship to the deceased other than the particular bereaved, everyone grieves differently – some feel all of the motions listed above intensely and profoundly, others feel them sequentially, others seem to major on one for long periods of time, some show their feelings, others hide them well; but, unless there was no love, all grieve. It is normal for bereaved parents who have lost a child suddenly and unexpectedly to feel these feelings intensely for at least five years after the death of their child. Spouses typically feel these losses for at least three years. There is no time-limit on grief – people need to feel whatever they are feeling for as long as they feel it, and they need to have someone with them for the journey who accepts the validity of those feelings, is nonjudgmental and forgiving, and can offer more love and support than hollow answers or well intentioned Bible verses.
  1. Speaking of the Bible, I have discovered personally and seen it confirmed in the lives of others, that most often believers are most profoundly affected by the Book of Psalms as they journey through the difficult work of grief, because the Psalms contain the entire spectrum of human emotion without religious platitude.

If we are willing to courageously face the problem of suicide directly and collectively confront it politically, pedagogically, sociologically, psychologically, medically, and religiously, we will positively impact our world with the healing ramifications of the Gospel by which we live, and in the process save lives and alleviate the suffering of the bereaved around us.

(Statistics and professional information for this article were taken from the Harvard Medical School “Guide to Suicide Assessment and Intervention” (Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., Editor, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1999) and from the National Center for Health Statistics of the United States government, “National Vital Statistics, Volume 47, Number 19, June 30, 1999”).

NAMI Survey Results: Depression: Gaps And Guideposts

NAMI has just released results of a general public 2009 survey concerning Depression.  I am sharing the results here to give you a window into how people view this illness.    There is much for all of us to learn.  Allan


This information is reproduced with permission from NAMI.

Highlights & Comments

While many Americans do not believe they know much about depression, they are highly aware of the risks of not receiving care, according to a survey conducted on behalf of NAMI by Harris Interactive Inc. released in November 2009.

The survey provides a “three dimensional” measurement of responses from members of the general public who have never known anyone living with depression, caregivers and individuals who actually live with the illness.

Major depression is a serious medical illness involving the brain. It affects 15 million American adults, or approximately 5-8 percent of the adult population in any given year. Unlike normal emotional experiences of sadness, loss or passing mood states, major depression is persistent. It interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity and physical health.

There is no single cause for the illness. Psychological, biological and environmental factors may all contribute to its development. Life events, such as the death of a loved one, a major loss or change, chronic stress and alcohol and drug abuse, may trigger episodes of depression. Some illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, and some medications also trigger episodes. However, it is important to note that many depressive episodes can and do occur spontaneously and are not triggered by a life crisis, physical illness or other risks.

  • Scientists have found evidence of a genetic predisposition to major depression. One striking finding from the survey is that almost 50 percent of caregivers in the survey, who may be parents and siblings, have also been diagnosed with depression, although only 25 percent were engaged in treatment at the time.

No one is immune from depression and the survey provides “guideposts” for individuals and families who confront the illness for the first time-helping them to learn from the experiences of others. It also reveals the need for greater public education.

The survey’s release coincides with Veteran’s Day 2009 and comes a few days after the release of the nation’s latest unemployment rate (10.2 percent)-the highest level in more than 25 years. It also coincides with Congressional debate over national health care reform. Its findings are relevant to veterans, active duty soldiers and their families and people in economic distress. It identifies needs and concerns relevant to health care reform at all levels.

The survey produced a wealth of information that to be considered over time. There were some surprises.

Depression: Gaps & Guideposts

Summary of Findings

Public Attitudes

  • Most people in the public sample — 71 percent — say that they do not know much about depression, but over two-thirds are aware of the consequences of not receiving care. 84 percent know that suicide is a risk.
  • Eighty percent or more recognize that depression is a medical illness affecting people of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups and that it can be treated. Sixty-two percent said they know at least some symptoms.
  • Ninety-one percent would want to know if a family member or friend was diagnosed with depression and 72 percent of people with the illness are willing to tell them.
  • At the same time, stigma endures. Almost 20 percent of the public consider the illness a sign of personal weakness and 23 percent would be embarrassed to tell others if a family member were diagnosed with depression.
  • Fifty-five percent of the public sample would be uncomfortable dating a person diagnosed with depression.

Age at Onset, Diagnosis & Early Treatment

Gaps exist between the times that symptoms of depression first appear, when they are actually diagnosed and when leading treatments, psychotherapy or counseling and/or medication are first received.

  • Thirty-four percent of people living with depression reported that first experienced symptoms of depression before age 18. Across the life span, the difference in discernment was a mean of 12 years.
  • Almost 20 percent of people living with depression reported being diagnosed before age 18. Almost 30 percent were diagnosed between the ages of 18-29 and 30 percent between the ages of 40-49.
  • Twenty-four percent of people living with depression reported that they first received psychotherapy or counseling before age 18; 21 percent between ages 19-29; and 18 percent between the ages of 30-39.
  • Fourteen percent reported first taking psychiatric medication before age 18; 24 percent between ages 18-29; and 23 percent between ages 30 – 39.

Treatment Strategies

  • Almost 60 percent of people living with depression rely on their primary care physicians for treatment rather than mental health professionals. This has implications for professional education, particularly in prescription and monitoring of medications.
  • Approximately two-thirds (67 percent) of people living with depression currently use psychiatric medication as their primary treatment compared to 16 percent who use psychotherapy or counseling as their primary treatment. However, two-thirds use psychotherapy and counseling overall.
  • One-third report they receive a “whole health” approach to care, but only eight percent receive a “family centered” approach.
  • Over one-third (35 percent) report being extremely or very satisfied with current treatment; however, a similar amount (33 percent) report dissatisfaction.
  • “Alternative” strategies are reported to be very helpful. These include prayer, physical exercise, animal therapy, art therapy and yoga. Although only about 20 percent of people living with depression have used animal therapy, 54 percent found it “extremely” or “quite a bit” helpful.
  • Five percent of people living with depression currently use nutritional or herbal remedies, but of the 27 percent who have tried them, only 8 percent have found them very helpful. However, this contrasts with 23 percent of the caregivers who believed they were helpful for the person in their care.

Depression: Gaps & Guideposts

Summary of Findings (continued)

Treatment Discontinuation

Fifty percent of people living with depression have found medication to be “extremely” or “quite a bit helpful” and 36 percent have found psychotherapy or counseling to be helpful as well.

When a person discontinues treatment-any treatment-the reasons can be complex or pose cause for concern. It is worth taking a closer, comparative look at some of the top reasons reported for discontinuations of each treatment. The responses were revealing measuring relative proportions between factors such as choice, cost, effectiveness, side-effects and social support.

Cost is a common factor (i.e. 27 percent of the time in the case of psychotherapy or counseling and 21 percent for medication, pointing to the need for greater access to coverage), but it is not the dominant factor


  • In the case of medication, physical and sexual side effects are significant (26 percent), which points to the need to ensure that individuals have a range of choices to select the one that works best for them as well as for improved medications with fewer or no side effects.

Psychotherapy or counseling

Didn’t feel like it was working 35%
Too expensive; couldn’t afford it 27%
Got better and didn’t need it anymore 24%
Wanted to see if I could “make it on my own 20%
Didn’t like my health care provider 19%
I couldn’t find a good health care provider 14%
Preferred alternative form of treatment 13%
No support from family or friends 6%


Wanted to see if I could “make it on my own 35%
Physical or sexual side effects 26%
Too expensive; couldn’t afford it 21%
Didn’t like taking a pill every day 17%
Didn’t feel much of a difference 16%
Never felt like I received the right medication or dosage 16%
Got better and didn’t need it anymore 13%
Provider recommended it 7%
Increased thoughts of death/suicide 7%
No support from family or friends 6%
Preferred alternative treatment 4%


Almost half (48 percent) of caregivers have been diagnosed with depression, although at the time of the survey, only about 25 percent were engaged in treatment. The survey did not explore reasons. Less than 20 percent of individuals living with depression reported receiving specific assistance from caregivers. But caregivers identified these most common forms:

Help with household chores 53%
Transportation 38%
Meal preparation 34%
Medication monitoring 34%
Money or financial support 33%
Money management 27%
Housing 20%

Caregivers also reported major challenges, including:

Managing time effectively 33%
Finding time for themselves 33%
Finding time to take care of their own health 31%
Making ends meet financially 29%
Feeling taken advantage of by the person 24%
Finding specialized services 24%
Accessing the health care system 23%

Show Love: Streams In The Desert, November 29th

“Put on as the elect of God, kindness” Colossians 3:12

There is a story of an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and if he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. And thus he passed through life lubricating all hard places and making it easier for those who came after him.

People called him eccentric, queer, and cranky; but the old man went steadily on refilling his can of oil when it became empty, and oiled the hard places he found.

There are many lives that creak and grate harshly as they live day by day. Nothing goes right with them. They need lubricating with the oil of gladness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness. Have you your own can of oil with you? Be ready with your oil of helpfulness in the early morning to the one nearest you. It may lubricate the whole day for him. The oil, of good cheer to the downhearted one–Oh, how much it may mean! The word of courage to the despairing. Speak it.

Our lives touch others but once, perhaps, on the road of life; and then, mayhap, our ways diverge, never to meet again, The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off of many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable and ready for the redeeming grace of the Saviour.

A word spoken pleasantly is a large spot of sunshine on a sad heart. Therefore, “Give others the sunshine, tell Jesus the rest.”

“We cannot know the grief
That men may borrow;
We cannot see the souls
Storm-swept by sorrow;
But love can shine upon the way
Today, tomorrow;
Let us be kind.
Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are broken,
We live in vain who give no tender token.
Let us be kind.”

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” Romans 12:10

Beautiful Christian Music: Praise & Worship, November 28th

Song List

1.  By Your Side-  Tenth Avenue North

2.  Praise You In This Storm-  Casting Crowns

3.  He’s Alive-  Don Francisco

4.  Do You Hear What I Hear?-  Third Day

5.  Little Drummer Boy-  Jars Of Clay

6.  Holly Jolly Christmas-  Burl Ives

7.  How He Loves Us-  Kim Walker/Jesus Culture

8.  Open Hands-  Matt Papa

9. Beautiful-  Vineyard UK

10.  Come, Now Is The Time To Worship-  Brian Doerksen

11.  Eden-  Annie Moses Band

Outsourced Prayer Lines Confuse Callers

Special report from Joel Kilpatrick of   LARK NEWS.


DES MOINES — Last month, Lori Danes, 43, called the prayer line of a major television ministry and requested prayer for her mother’s persistent ulcers. But her prayer representative, who called himself “Darren,” prayed in a strong Indian accent that “all the gods would bless her mightily.”
“I was stunned,” Danes says. “It was like I’d called a demon prayer line.”
The manager of India Prayer Solutions, located in Mumbai, India, apologized for the incident and fired the employee who, he said, had not been properly trained. But dozens of similar incidents have rattled U.S. callers since major ministries began outsourcing their prayer lines to India. The ministries insist they are overwhelmed by the growing number of calls for prayer.
“There aren’t enough Americans willing to sit in the prayer tower and take calls anymore,” says a prayer coordinator at a major ministry which jobbed out its prayer lines last year.
But the interactions have left many callers baffled.
Rich Douglas of Orem, Utah, called a prayer line for the first time this month, requesting prayer for his wife’s cancer. His prayer partner, “Stephanie,” took him through a series of prayers that felt “pretty clinical,” says Douglas. “I definitely didn’t sense the Spirit. It sounded like she was reading from a script.”
“Stephanie,” whose real name is Reha Jain, is a Hindu woman who works at a call center in Mumbai and has prayed with “many satisfied prayer customers,” she says. “It’s like my old job at a Microsoft call center. The caller is happy if you deliver quality customer service.”
Her fellow worker Rajneesh Tuwalla likewise had never heard of a single U.S. ministry, but was “sick of working at the Sprint call center,” he says. “The customers always got angry about their bill.”
Tuwalla landed a job at a prayer center and learned to pray “Christian prayers” by watching Kenneth Copeland.
“All the TV preachers pray good, but Copeland prays the best,” says Tuwalla, who mimics Copeland’s style on the phone with callers. Like many service reps, he uses an American name while on the job. In Copeland’s honor, Tuwalla calls himself “Ken.”
Tuwalla has heard the rumors that U.S. ministries may repatriate their call centers. He hopes it isn’t true. At his Sprint job he would have to “run around the block and maybe pull the head off a stray chicken” to settle down every night because of the stress he felt serving demanding U.S. customers. But the prayer center job is more relaxed.
“The callers are very nice,” he says. “I like my life again.”•

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, Novemeber 27th

Mathew 6:25  Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Mathew 6:26  Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are?
Mathew 6:27  Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature?
Mathew 6:28  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin,
Mathew 6:29  but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Mathew 6:30  Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths?
Mathew 6:31  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed?
Mathew 6:32  For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
Mathew 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Mathew 6:34  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it.

Lest you think otherwise I have no problem with folks who take advantage of Black Friday or any other means to save money.  Allan

New Prayer Requests

Linda Lynch–  Please pray for me and my family, For happiness and peace, And pray for my oldest sister that had a stroke that she will walk again and be able to use her right side again. Please pray for my son and his family that they will find God and get there family back together.

Margaret Mace–  I need prayer for myself and my brother ken hudson, that the will open up new doors for us,I need a job so I can get a place to live, I am living with someone right now but they want me to leave, so i need a job to do that, I can not live with my brother because he is living with some one else also, there no room.I went to Ft. Rucker Al for job and need the lord to open up that door so I can work there.Also we need financail blessing from the lord , also please prayer for peggy newman that lord will give her financail blessing also she is going through alot right now, also I would like the lord to speak to me and show me that he is working everything out for us.If he can send me a sign were I need to be living and working to take care of myself.I am disability and I took care of my parent’s until they die one year ago, they help all the time but my parent’s didn’t have any money to leave us, so we are trying the best we can, also my son is with the lord too,so I have been through many thing’s in my life for 55 yrs old, i keep hope thing’s will look better, becuase I am trust the lord will fix thing’s for me.God Bless You

Past Prayer Requests

Okie Preacher–  His daughter Rachel is hospitalized due to her Bi-Polar Disorder.

Okie Preacher–  Battling unknown physical problems and depression.  “I have a physical problem that the doctors have not been able to identify. It has been characterized by severe muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, fatigue, shortage of breath, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and coughing fits that almost cause me to pass out.”

Allan–  Pastor John Duncan is hospitalized as the result of a motorcycle accident. His leg was severely damaged. Please pray that John’s leg would heal completely. Update:  John is now home and recovering.  Still needs much prayer as he is dealing with severe pain.

Long Term Prayer Requests

Allan–  Oden’s six month old son had a liver transplant.  Pray that his body doesn’t reject it and that he recovers swiftly and completely.

White Horses- Prayer for anxious thoughts and worrying.

Allan–  My mother is going to need bypass surgery on both legs.  She has Peripheral Arterial Disease.

Shaun Sells–  Keep Shaun in prayer for wisdom as he seeks to continue his ministry to those with mental illness in his church.

Dusty– Continued prayer for deep depression.

Rachel–  Continued prayer as she struggles with bi-polar disorder.

Natalie Tan–   She is battling an eating disorder and has a tough battle ahead of her. There is a new article posted that is about her. She puts a face to eating disorders and is a young woman that will need prayer.

Allan–  Our nephew’s wife has M.S.

Dorci- I would love it if people could pray that our son Eric would fall in love with Jesus and would follow Him with all his heart. Thank you.

miniErunner- Please pray for my best friend’s father. He was just diagnosed with throat cancer and will be starting intense chemo within the next few weeks. Please also pray for his wife and 2 daughters. Pray that they will stay strong through all of this. Update – Surgery was done and his voice box was removed.  He will now undergo further treatment.