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What we’re reading: “Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide”

Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s book Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide is timely around the holidays, but not for the reason you might think.

Suicides don’t increase at Christmas—that’s a myth—but they do spike on New Year’s Day, a warning of things to come.

“In the coming year, ten million Americans will ponder ending their life,” Sleeth writes. “It is almost a certainty that someone you love has thought, is thinking, or will think about suicide. What will you say to them? How will you deal with suicidal thoughts if they cross your own mind?”

Sleeth, a medical doctor and a Christian, will help you answer those questions in a way that offers hope for the 47,000 Americans a year who commit suicide.

Why pastors should read this book

It’s full of practical wisdom and spiritual principles about suicide, including chapters devoted to pastors and the church. A toolkit at the end of the book includes a sample church policy on preventing suicide. 

The big takeaway

Although Sleeth writes that he doesn’t know whether people who commit suicide go to heaven, he makes this clear: “Jesus is for life. Satan is always on the side of death – either directly or through the hopelessness, desperation, and choices he encourages that lead to death.”

In their own words

“Whether you are a man or a woman, you are made in God’s image. You are not an accident or a mistake. You are exactly what God intended you to be. Moreover, you don’t have to choose between science and God, fact and faith. God invented science, and science is just catching up to God.”

“For well over a century it has been known by the medical community that a belief in God has a protective effect when it comes to suicide. Thirty-five years ago, even though I attended one of the most secular medical schools in the nation, we too were taught that a belief in God and involvement in a church had a protective effect when it came to suicide. Innumerable studies since then have confirmed this fact.”

“The greatest thing for all of us to have an interest in is others. Depression can drag its victims into a solitary place where it’s difficult to think of anything but themselves. The goal of every Christian should be not thinking less of ourselves but thinking about ourselves less.”

Read the introduction