Skip to content

Many are close to suicide—without our knowing

By Joy Le Page Smith, MA, BCC

Years back Gary and I hired a man with great tree expertise to trim the trees about our home. We chatted frequently and he became a friend while beautifying our trees. He told of his “past life” as an executive with an office in a high rise within a big city.

While sitting at his desk one day he looked from his 7th floor window and saw a tree-trimmer at work. He thought, “That’s the life I want to live.” So after studying how best to do this earthy art, he started this new endeavor of trimming trees–and became superbly good at it.

Then a disabling accident found him depending on a doctor’s prescription for pain medications. He functioned well although everything about life was hard for him. Then came the time when opioids gained national attention due to their overuse by millions of people whose doctors were not closely monitoring the use of them. Many doctors, as well as our friend’s doctor, started warning their patients, as much as possible, about their prescription usage.

Our friend, now living on a “minimal amount” of the opioids as compared to what his doctor had permitted previously, found it far from adequate for managing his constant, agonizing pain. He called me, “Joy, I think as a chaplain you may be able to answer a question for me. What do you think God will do in my case if I take my life?”

I felt tremendous compassion for his plight. Then, without hesitation I told him that we have a merciful God, a loving God—and added that I believe we are to see our challenges on earth as opportunities to grow in our strength and through God’s help to be able to handle them. Yet, there are instances wherein a person has formidable pain and their back is against the wall to the point they can no longer tolerate living and breathing here on earth . . . some do make that final, momentous choice to end their life. Who can know if in that veracious moment the person takes his or her cause to the throne of God in prayer. I would like to believe that our Creator comprehends all and that person who is so sick goes straight into the loving arms of God. Yet, life is such a gift. And all judgement belongs to God.

Our friend was one who talked with us frequently about His love of Christ and of his prayers to be faithful. We prayed with hearts brimming with concern for him. Two years passed when we received a call informing us that our friend had ended his life.

Upon knowing of his choice I thought back on my words to him and prayed to always be helpful, not harmful. Still, in my heart of hearts, I want to believe he is in God’s loving arms and that we will see him again in Heaven. Clearly, there are sicknesses that some of us will never encounter. Therefore some circumstances can only be judged by God.

Life on earth can bring huge challenges, but God’s help is here for us on terra firma. Proverbs 18:10 say, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” The name of Jesus holds power far greater than any other name we can speak. When we ask, the Lord of heaven does hear and He can extend strength beyond any we could have had without His help. Trust it. Try it. Believe!

Her website at carries her blog and books along with an animated video of her children’s book.