An Afternoon on Campus

A couple of weeks ago a young international student at one of our local colleges committed suicide.  I was at the scene as Fire Department Chaplain, and on behalf of the department attended his on-campus memorial service this afternoon.  It was a remarkable event.  On this “secular” campus the ballroom was oversubscribed.  Around fifteen adult members of his family were present from half way around the globe. Readings from scripture and remembrances from friends and professors were tasteful and poignant.  There was a well done photo-tribute to his young life projected on a huge screen.  Then came three remarkable moments.  The photo-tribute ended with a very well crafted poem written by the family and attesting to the power of their Christian faith as their hope in this most terrible of times.  His father rose to give thanks to the college for being with them and for them at this time, and then offered a very moving and appropriate testimony of the faith shared by the entire family that was carrying them through.  The event closed with the entire family singing the Aaronic Blessing in perfect four part harmony. There were few dry eyes in the room and nothing but awed respect for the presence of a faith that many, if not most, either took for absent minded granted or rejected altogether.  So why would a young man from such a strong family commit suicide?  I have some knowledge and a little insight into the matter but it will have to remain with me alone for the time being. 

2 thoughts on “An Afternoon on Campus”

  1. It sounds like that was a very moving experience. I have had several friends that have committed suicide. Many of their families were also quite spiritual in nature. What I have found, more often than not, that although God, Christ, or whatever spiritual vocation that someone may subscribe to, nothing can take the place of action, empathy, sympathy and reaching out.Faith aside – people need people, that is human nature. Warning signs are always there and sometimes praying is not enough.

  2. As Fire Chaplain I am involved at some level in many of the suicide investigations around here. I\’m not so certain that there are always clear warning signs, except, perhaps, in hindsight. In any case, this June I intend to do a study of our records on suicides over the last several years to see what they might reveal that could be helpful in doing a better job at prevention.

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