The news last Sunday that Gary Speed chose to end his life was both tragic and sad. A successful football career in the premiership, a bright future as manager of Wales and a beautiful wife and children made his sudden and surprising death all the more pointless and hopeless. Gary Speeds last public appearance was the day before on the Football Show. He spoke elegantly and talked of his hopes as manger of Wales in the 2014 world cup. No doubt, as any loving husband and Father he made plans for Christmas and had dreams for his children – but in less than twenty four hours he had ended his life.
Of course the question we all ask is why? Not just about Garry Speed but every suicide that we hear about all too often in the news.
While there are no easy answers I do think that suicide is a search for Grace, even though it might not be recognised as such. The fact of Gary’s death tells us that not even his closest friends or family knew what he was struggling and suffering with deep inside. What ever he faced in his personal life, death, it seemed was the only means of escape. While we may not agree it is certainly very understandable. The reality is we live in a very broken world with broken lives and human answers are very often insufficient and incomplete. Whatever Gary experienced we can say that he longed for peace, hope and an end to his pain. And that’s what Grace offers us. Grace is God’s intervention into this broken world and our disordered lives. God sees that we have not got the inner strength or resources to change our circumstances or transform our lives and so he offers us Grace. That Grace comes through a person, Jesus Christ who enters into our struggles and suffering offering hope and freedom.
While we do not know the full story behind any suicide it seems that the suffering and struggles of an individual remain deeply hidden. External pressures mean we must appear strong and so we cover up our suffering. Internal pressures mean we must prove to ourselves our ability to cope so we push down our struggles. All the time the longing to be ‘set free’ intensifies. Grace enables us to be open and honest without fear or shame. We can come as we are with all our weakness and admit to our suffering and struggles. Rather than crushed we are cleaned, rather than broken we are restored. We find forgiveness, a fresh start and a new life. Of course it does not mean an end to our suffering and struggles but we find one who identifies and gives a way out while not losing those most dear to us, our family and friends.
Community of Grace
How do we help and how can we respond? We need to create communities of Grace. A place where people can tell the truth and not be condemned, where we can admit weakness and not be shamed, where we can ask for help and not be rejected. In short we need to live the gospel, where Christ welcomes us and creates a place where we can come as we are to experience his forgiveness and freedom.
May God pour his Grace into the family and friends of Gary Speed.