Year: 2021 Source: Reigions. (2021). 12(4), 238. SIEC No: 20210281

Although suicide has been unfortunately stigmatized unfairly through the ages, we should not make the mistake of going to the opposite extreme and valorizing it. We should not forget that the major role of health care professionals is to prevent suicide when possible and to invigorate the underlying life force in the person. Suicide is often the ultimate outcome of a tragic and pessimistic view of life. It was prevalent in ancient Greek writing. Indeed, over 16 suicides and self-mutilations can be found in the 26 surviving tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. In contrast, only six suicides can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, and only one suicide in the Christian Scriptures. In addition,
the Hebrew Scriptures present numerous suicide-prevention narratives that effectively provide a psychological instruction for people in despair which seems unavailable to figures in the writings of the great Greek tragedians. Unfortunately, some religious traditions tended to go to the opposite extreme in stigmatizing suicide rather than understanding it and trying to prevent it. This paper examines evidence regarding seven evidence-based risk factors for suicide: (1) Feeling depressed and isolated; (2) Feeling one’s life is without purpose; (3) Being a refugee from one’s homeland; (4) Feeling unable to express oneself with others; (5) Being adopted; (6) Feeling abandoned by one’s
child leaving the family nest; and (7) Feeling doomed by a dysfunctional (indeed incestuous) family of origin We contrast biblical and Greek narratives regarding each of these factors, respectively: (1) Elijah against Ajax, (2) Job against Zeno, (3) David against Coriolanus, (4) Jonah against Narcissus, (5) Moses against Oedipus, (6) Rebecca against Phaedra, and finally, (7) Ruth against Antigone. These biblical figures thrive across risk factors while their Greek and Roman counterparts kill or mutilate themselves or provoke others to do the job. All these contrasts should demonstrate to psychotherapists, counselors, and clergy alike as to how Greek narratives lead to self-destructive
behaviors while biblical narratives provide a hopeful positive psychology, and a constructive way out these dilemmas. My colleagues (Paul Cantz, Matthew Schwartz, and Moriah Markus-Kaplan) and I call for a biblical psychotherapy for positive psychology, suicide prevention, and indeed life promotion. Where hope is locked up in Pandora’s urn after she has released all the evils unto the world, the biblical God places hope into the sky as a bow after Noah and his family and all the creatures on the ark disembark to land after the receding of the flood.