An Oath to Live



It is…the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life…
The man who kills a man kills a man.

The man who kills himself kills all men.
As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.
~ G.K. Chesterton

Suicide rates globally have climbed 60% in the past forty five years,
particularly in developed countries where most folks are sheltered and fed,
where daily survival is entirely in our own hands.
Based on the distress and anguish of the patients I see every day,
there will be no slowing of this trend:
this temptation, this contemplation, this resignation of dying, only a passive
“I wish I were dead” or
“the world is better off without me”~
wipes out the worth of the world.

~where there is no oath of loyalty to live, our own or others’,
as stressful, painful and messy as life can be,
~where there is no honoring of the holiness of the created being,
whether unborn, or breathing heavy through daily struggles, or suffering or dying,
~when there is no longer resistance to standing up to the buffeting winds of life,
only a toppling over, taking out everything and everyone in the way,
~then with each suicide, the world also is wiped out,
the value of all people killed in one act of self-murder.

November is Suicide Prevention Month



4 thoughts on “An Oath to Live

  1. Thank you, Emily, for your Spirit-filled compassion and your professional wisdom in adding an important and,
    in the course of time, healing thoughts to consider in the grieving process of death by suicide. “An Oath to Live,” with all that this implies, as you mention here, can add an important dimension to the healing process – a process that is
    so crucial for those who have suffered such an agonizing loss.

    “The Oath” struck me personally because of a painful recent event in our close-knit family. On Sept. 9 at noon
    my 49-year old beautiful niece Maura went out to a small porch in her condo, sat down, and put a small
    caliber pistol into her mouth and fired one bullet, instantly ending her once-promising life. Her 17-year old daughter
    Morgan was due to return from school at 3:30. Those are the immediate facts as the police began their

    The one saving Grace that preceded Maura’s suicide was a phone call that she had received an hour earlier from her
    lifelong friend Stephanie in California who later recounted the conversation to police as their investigation continued.
    Stephanie told the police that Maura had sounded ‘strange, not like herself,’ and that she had ended their
    conversation by saying, ‘Please tell Morgan that I love her.’ Stephanie was deeply concerned and intuitive enough
    to call the police in Maura’s hometown.

    When police arrived shortly thereafter, they found Maura dead. They found one note she had left openly on a
    table that is still in police custody pending finalization of their investigation. A family member with close personal
    contacts in the P.D. was told that the note gave no specific or revelatory information concerning Maura’s motive.
    The police had called her former husband who immediately went to Morgan’s school to intercept her and to
    bring her to his home. For the past several years both parents have shared custody, an agreement that seemed
    to work out well for Morgan.

    As seems to be the case in so many suicides, there were no prior overt signs, verbal or non-verbal, that the
    person was contemplating suicide. This void compounds the terrible grief that is suffered by the survivors
    of this violent unnatural act. Emotions expressed by family in my personal account here include immediate
    disbelief and denial; anger at Maura’s ‘selfish’ act by abandoning her daughter (especially at such a crucial
    age); un-assuaged grief felt by Maura’s family and close friends that she is gone from their lives forever;
    and, most often felt, the ‘if onlys’ — those haunting thoughts and recriminations of possible actions or
    intervention that might have been averted this tragedy.

    As Chesterton points out, ‘The man who kills himself kills all men.’
    And as you so prophetically remind us, “…with each suicide, the world also is wiped out…’


  2. oh Alice, thank you for sharing such a difficult story of tears, but thank goodness Stephanie recognized that something was wrong and sent the police, sparing Morgan that experience of discovering her mother. This is a story that repeats every 12 minutes in the United States, with all the nuanced differences when the names and circumstances change, but yet still that final awful decision that can’t be undone, and how it ultimately affects us all.


  3. As your previous commentor implies- the one committing that final act of death on their own life- is not themselves. It is this final thought I must play out in my own mind when pondering the death of 2 close people in my world that took guns to kill themselves. I will never think it is selfishness on their parts. I miss them so. May we learn to love deeper, stronger, and with more passion.


  4. I lost a brother to suicide almost 10 years, and it is an eternal wound. I can say eternal because I know Jesus still has his wounds . . . My brother was a good, good man with a giving heart but obviously suffered mentally in ways that were hid from us.

    I just became aware of this program at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital which gives me hope for those who suffer from this temptation:

    Thanks for writing on this, Emily. It means a lot to me.


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