Friday, December 19, 2014

Hi Tim! Depression And Suicide. Getting It All Wrong.

Hi Tim,

How are you?  The holiday season has had me so busy that I blipped right over your e-mail on the 15th, regarding the Army chaplain who had been reprimanded for trying to help soldiers with depression.  Sad.  No pun intended.

Turns out that Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn was conducting a suicide prevention training session at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He passed out pamphlets with both religious and non-religious resources that were available to the soldiers.  Someone who had attended the training reported the instant to the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, who then, in turn, lodged a complaint with Champlain Lawhorn’s superior.  Again, sad.  Again, no pun intended.

You stated that Chaplain Lawhorn had been punished for “simply sharing how his faith in God has sustained him during difficult times.”  I’m not sure if I’d call it punishment.  The colonel at the base simply called the chaplain into his office and warned him to be careful in the event that someone could think that he was promoting one set of beliefs over another.  And I think that’s where the problem rears its head…

You mentioned that the chaplain’s pamphlet included biblical references.  Were they only references to the Christian faith, or did it include references to the Jewish faith?  If they were biblical references, I would imagine that would not speak to the soldiers who may be of the Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc., faiths.

Well, it looks as if the chaplain engaged a lawyer, or actually, lawyers.  So I guess it all turned into a big deal.  I’m all about what is right and fair, but maybe we’re overlooking the real concern here:  the soldiers who are having trouble with depression and who are contemplating suicide.  I think that trying to find a solution that would help those soldiers, with the least amount of conflict and hubbub, is ultimately the highest road to take.  But perhaps I’m being too simplistic here.

Myself, I struggle with depression a lot.  I have bipolar disorder, and have been hospitalized for depression and for suicidal thoughts.  No fun.  At all.  But I got help.  And the soldiers should as well.

I checked with my husband, an avowed atheist, as I’ve mentioned before.  He did not one, but two, tours in the Navy.  His take?  He would not have a problem with Chaplain Lawhorn’s pamphlets, as long as they included both religious and non-religious resources for preventing depression and suicide.  That was his take.

I use this phrase a lot.  Much ado about nothing.  Focus on the soldiers.  In Jesus’ name.  No pun intended.

Hope you have a great night Tim!

Yours in Christ,


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