Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rick, Kay and Heartbreak

Life is harder for the children of successful parents.  

When you add to that the special pressures on preachers' kids and an underlying genetic vulnerability to a mental illness, the outcome is precarious.  

Prayer may or may not result in healing.  

My heart aches with Rick and Kay Warren in the loss of their son Matthew a week ago.,0,1152255.story

"There but for the grace of God" all parents can go--but the whole tragedy of Matthew taking his own life is drenched in grace.  Apparently the grace of God did not--could not?--prevent this outcome.  

Nevertheless, God's loving care, forgiveness, and redemption are found throughout this story.

Matthew was raised to know God's presence and forgiveness.  Rick has chosen to grieve and reflect publicly, on Twitter and Facebook, to help others facing similar tragedies.

We do not live alone, even in the bleakest moments.  The grief I feel can touch the despair someone else feels.  

For years I have been worrying about my adult children and praying that Jesus would speak the words "Talitha, cumi" to them--that they would hear those words and rise from their beds, as did the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:41).

This prayer was surely close to Rick and Kay's hearts for years, yet the recovery they prayed for did not happen, as least not on earth.  

I met Rick Warren a few years ago after attending a worship service at Saddleback Church in Orange County.  Afterward, he sat on a cement bench in the patio talking with people.  

At the time, I didn't know he had problems with this son similar to those I have been facing with my daughters, but I did sense his genuineness.  He was accessible, not condescending or remote.

I've concluded that children who grow up with moderately successful parents--in our case, an editor at the Los Angeles Times and a college professor--face more pressure to succeed in academics and in a career.  Many political leaders and celebrities have lost a child to suicide.  

A first-generation college student or a hard-working child of poor immigants faces different kinds of challenges, but the possibility of not doing as well as their parents is not threatening them.

Matthew's death will bring attention to the number of suicides per year among young, white males--and the role of easy access to guns in those deaths.  Good may come from this attention, and perhaps lives will be saved.

There were 34,598 deaths by suicide in 2007 in the U.S.

Consider these statistics for young men in the year 2001:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15-24 years old.

73% of all suicide deaths are white males.

80% of all firearm suicide deaths are white males.

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