Prayers for Suicide Prevention: a N.H. Vet’s Project

Matt Mayberry is a familiar face to anyone who’s been active in New Hampshire Republican politics in recent years. What you might not know is that Matt is a military veteran. Like too many vets, he has faced depression and the temptation to suicide. He is calling on his fellow Granite Staters to join him on May 7 for a statewide prayer effort dedicated to suicide prevention.

He’s looking for 100 churches and 20,000 people to participate. I think we can get there. Having lost my sister to suicide, I understand the need for what Matt proposes, which is just another way of calling on God to help us value and respect life.

Matt visited the recent Culture of Life conference in Rochester to share some information about the project. He handed out a letter describing his goal. It was written for pastors, but it really speaks to all of us. Here is his letter in full. Thank you for reading and sharing it.


Dear Friends in Faith:

Recently I have been trying to find a way to help others like myself: a veteran who suffered from depression and considered suicide. I spoke about my personal struggles with mental illness in a few very public forums (a political convention and an interview with the Union Leader). I fundamentally believe that if we talk about mental illness, even a little bit, it may help one person who is suffering feel a little relief.

I rely daily on God helping me through my struggles and challenges in life. I, like you, understand and value the power of prayer. From my days of working for the White House to organizing large scale events here in NH, I wanted to create an event that would galvanize the religious community for a one day, one moment event and I hope to solicit your help. I don’t want your money. I do, however, ask to be included on your prayer list.

On Sunday May 7th I am organizing a state wide Prayers for Suicide Prevention-NH. I am respectfully asking that on this day you ask your congregation to say a prayer for those suffering from depression and contemplating suicide. We want our brothers and sisters to know that they are loved. The 2nd leading cause of death amongst NH children 10 to 14 years old is suicide. Every 70 minutes in America a veteran has committed suicide. I’m asking your congregation to pray that this trend will stop.

A little known fact: Spring time has the highest rate of suicide deaths in America, not the holidays….spring time, thus the timing of this prayer outreach.

This is a grassroots effort primarily through social media and a statewide network of friends. Myself or one of my friend will be calling you and asking for you to participate. We will continue through a media push to hopefully have 100 churches and 20,000 people praying to end suicide.

Please join us as a prayer partner. There is no guideline about how you address this issue with your congregation. You can develop a whole sermon or simply when taking prayer requests talk about the statewide moment of prayer and add it to list of prayer recipients that day. We will be posting updates through Twitter (@prevsuicideNH), Facebook (Prayers for Suicide Prevention NH) and email.  I am also very open to suggestions! Although not required, Prayer Partners are asked to sign up through Eventbrite (eventbrite.com/e/32056399554) for immediate updates and to keep track of our partners.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Matt Mayberry, Dover NH

[Contact information omitted here, since I’m not sure how much personal information he wants to circulate; you can reach out to him via the Facebook page.]


Noted: report on effect of assisted suicide laws on overall suicide rate

Alex Schadenberg speaking in Nashua, NH, September 2015. Photo by Ellen Kolb.
Alex Schadenberg speaking in Nashua, NH, September 2015. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is drawing attention to a recent study on overall suicide rates in states where physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is legal. The conclusion of a team of researchers: a state’s legalization of assisted suicide is associated with a 6.3% increase in total suicides in that area. The study looked at suicide rates between in Oregon, Washington State, Vermont and Montana, where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

Bear in mind that official statistics on euthanasia are squirrelly things at best, usually relying on self-reporting by prescribing physicians (sound familiar?). Researchers and statisticians looking at PAS are stuck with that limitation.

Read Schadenberg’s post and the abstract of the Southern Medical Journal’s study.

Schadenberg refers in his post to a decision earlier this year by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding euthanasia. The Carter decision is as sweeping regarding euthanasia as Roe v. Wade is regarding abortion. The legalization of assisted suicide in Canada will go into effect in 2016, barring further legal action.

Related news, provided by EPC: “A California group called Seniors Against Suicide, who opposed the California assisted suicide bill that was signed into law by Governor Brown on October 5, filed papers with the California Attorney General’s office to put the issue of assisted suicide on the State ballot in 2016, as reported by the Associated Press.”


Also by Alex Schadenberg:

 

Pass it on: a statement of solidarity during Suicide Prevention Month

emblem from suicidepreventionlifeline.org

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and allies in the anti-euthanasia coalition have something to say about that. They invite you to consider what they’re saying and perhaps add your voice to theirs. Reject the idea of better-dead-than-disabled.

Not Dead Yet, the disability rights group that has played a huge role in beating back assisted suicide legislation, has issued A Statement of Solidarity in Observance of Suicide Prevention Month. Here are some excerpts:

The concern of the disability, military and veterans, and aging communities in suicide prevention is understandable in view of research regarding rates and reasons, which consistently show these groups at increased risk….[We] Believe disability is a natural part of the human experience and a form of human diversity, and we reject the notion that disability is a fate worse than death. [We] Believe dignity is innate in every life and eschew the notion that dignity can only be achieved or reclaimed by extinguishing life.

The statement is well worth reading in full. (While you’re at it, peruse the rest of the Not Dead Yet blog.) This is not crisis intervention; it’s an invitation to attitude adjustment. If you wish to add your name to the statement, email Not Dead Yet at NDYOutreach@gmail.com before close of business on September 25.

“Do yourself no harm, for we are all here”: the Lifeline Against Suicide Team

A new ministry of prayer is underway for all who are affected by suicide.

Another small project affirming life is underway. I hope it grows into a big one.

The title of this post quotes Paul’s reassuring words to his suicidal jailer, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Those are the words that helped inspire earlier this year the formation of LAST, the Lifeline Against Suicide Team. It’s not a crisis line; those already exist. Instead, LAST is about daily prayer devoted to particular intentions: preventing suicide, praying for those already lost to suicide, and praying for the surviving families and friends left to cope with grief.

A spiritual work of mercy, in other words. The world could use more of that.

This sounds a very personal chord inside me. I lost my sister to suicide sixteen years ago. The anguish she unwittingly left behind is still with me, to say nothing of what my parents endured. To this day, it hurts to contemplate the pain she must have been in as she took her life thinking no one could help her.

LAST is a ministry of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love, known for caring for troubled children at the St. Charles Home in Rochester, New Hampshire. In the introductory blog post about LAST, the sisters have written
LAST is for all people not just for Catholics. Please unite with people all over the world who are praying for these people who are suffering so grievously. Your prayers will help to open the door to God’s overflowing love and mercy!

So how about it? Calling for mercy and consolation in union with people from all over the world is surely a life-affirming act. Check out the blog at http://lastacts1628.blogspot.com/. If you’d like to join the effort, send an email to Sister Mary Rose at lastacts1628@gmail.com.

One more thing I want to add – again, very personal: suicide carries a stigma, even these days. I remember my mother’s distress at the prospect of the word “suicide” being used on my sister’s death certificate. (Mom fought that, and by ways known only to her she prevailed, at least on the document I saw.) There was a time when some thought the jaws of Hell stood open to receive the souls of those who had taken their own lives. Enough already. “God’s overflowing love and mercy,” as the Sisters say, is surely the best way to counter such a despairing belief. Show that love and mercy to the survivors, too. Believe me, it helps.

Five reasons (so far) to watch NH legislators in 2014

New Hampshire State HouseJanuary’s still three months off, and as of this writing 355 proposals for bills have been filed in Concord. The complete list of these LSRs, or legislative service requests, is here.  It’s always interesting to get a preview of coming attractions. This is a simple list of sponsors and topics; the texts of the bills haven’t been prepared yet. Other sponsors will undoubtedly sign on to these proposals later in the drafting process.

Abortion. Rep. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) is proposing bills regarding licensure of abortion facilities and collection of abortion statistics. An aside: A post I wrote recently mentioning the lack of a stats bill in NH drew an objection from a reader, who said I had no statistics about abortion’s effect on women to support my concern that we need statistics to measure abortion’s effect on women. Got that?

Death penalty. Rep. Robert “Renny” Cushing (D-Hampton), whose father was murdered in 1988, is once again introducing a bill to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire. I oppose the death penalty, after years of being ambivalent about it. I have attended hearings on death-penalty bills before, and I am always struck by how many abortion advocates oppose the death penalty and how many defenders of the unborn support it. Time after time, the most consistent voice, defending the right to life for preborn children as well as for condemned murderers, comes from representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

Another Dominick’s Law? Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has an LSR to “include ‘fetus’ in the definition of ‘another’ for the purpose of certain criminal offenses.” Another fetal homicide bill, perhaps? If so, recall that in 2012, only a last-minute desperation move by abortion advocates prevented an override of Gov. Lynch’s veto of a similar bill.

Suicide. Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter) wants to see suicide prevention programs in schools. Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) has submitted a pair of LSRs relative to suicide, including one to create an affirmative defense for a person who aids or assists someone to commit suicide. Interesting juxtaposition there.

Establishing a committee to study end-of-life decisions. Rep. Charles Weed (D-Keene) is back. Recall what one of his colleagues had to say the last time Weed sponsored an “end-of-life” bill.

Stay tuned for more clues about the 2014 session. At this point, no LSR has been posted online about repealing New Hampshire’s parental notification law.