Wayne Rogers, left, visits with Jerry Weyrauch on June 1. Weyrauch and his wife Elsie are the founders of the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network, a grass roots effort to prevent suicides through advocacy and action.

Interesting concept! Just what does it mean, “Breaking the Silence?” Some parents pray for silence while others are satisfied to accept whatever that is being said as just part of the growing up process.

My question to you, can silence be detrimental to ones health? Can silence be deadly? My answer to you, you mothers and dads. My answer to you, you brothers and sisters. My answer to you, you Sunday School teacher, you pastor and basically everyone else who has contact with others. Honestly, this message is for anyone and everyone who has contact with others they care about. Is that you?

Many of you may be surprised at what I am about to say. You know that I am a man who loves the Lord, ordained to the gospel ministry, who has served as chaplain to the deputies and staff at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. At the same time a man who has experienced the greatest pain a parent can experience.

What is that? The premature loss of a child, especially when that loss came as a result of his/her own doing. “suicide” Oh, I can hear you now. Wayne, you were a bad parent, you didn’t love Patrick enough, maybe I didn’t even give him everything he needed. But I did my best.

My question to each and everyone of you, are you doing your best? Do you love you child enough? Heaven forbid, are you a bad parent? Are you sure? Just how would you know? That’s okay, your okay for now! Or are you! Am I crazy? Don’t I or didn’t I know that talking about suicide only implants that idea in someone’s head.

My answer to that question after living for 23 years following Patrick’s forever decision (oh, did I happen to mention Patrick was 23 years old the day he died) is “I wish I had said something, anything, to make a difference in that forever decision.” I wish that I had “broke the silence.” But, I’m not totally to blame. Maybe there is enough blame to go around. Who else shares some of the blame. Let’s answer that question momentarily.

Suicide affects every segment of our society today. I would bet, if I were a betting man that the vast majority of you have been affected also. Some of you were probably surprised when I included the community of faith, you teachers, preachers and so forth.

Didn’t I mention that I was an ordained chaplain, may I add that I taught Sunday School for 15 years. Do these two efforts qualify as being part of the community of faith?

On June 1, Christine and I were honored to welcome an old friend to our home.

Jerry Weyrauch, age 93 1/2, did I say old, came to Douglas County with a very specific task.

Jerry and his wife Elsie are the founders of the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network, a grass roots effort to prevent suicides through advocacy and action.

Their plans involved bringing together the collective strengths of the multitudes who have been so adversely affected by the devastation of suicide. The Weyrauch’s lost their 34-year-old physician daughter Terri.

Did I mention that suicide affects every aspect of our society? His purpose, to ask me to pick up the banner and continue another proposed plan to save you from experiencing what I have painfully experienced.

What should be very evident, seeing that the suicide rate in America has continued to rise for the last 23 years, is the problem, the epidemic is continuing to rise.

As an example, the rate of deaths has risen annually from 32,000 to 45,000 confirmable suicides.

Consider these scary statistics, from the year 2000-2013, deaths due to heart disease decreased 14%, prostate cancer decreased 14%, breast cancer decreased 2%, colorectal cancer decreased 9% and HIV/AIDS decreased an astounding 51%.

Amazing, then consider deaths from suicides increased 48%.

For survivors of suicide, the passion is there. The missing element, the community of faith.

I am reminded that in my Bible found in Luke 8:26 and following Jesus casts out demons from a man who had been possessed for many years. The demon-possessed man cried out “what have I to do with you Jesus, Son of the Most High?” Many of you do not believe in demon possession.

May I ask, do you believe in alcoholism, mental illness, drug addiction, and suicide? These issues are considered by most experts to be the primary causes of suicide today.

How can the community of faith step up and love like Jesus did in his day?

1. It starts in the pulpit. Pastors can preach suicide prevention and promote advocacy.

2. Church members can ask their primary care physicians to screen all of their patients for depression.

3. Church members can learn how to identify and help a suicidal person.

I can help with the third point now. For all of my 23 years, I have been presenting a prevention course. To date, more than 8,000 have attended. The course is 1 1/2 hours long and there is no cost.

To schedule a class, contact me at 470-559-1436. I am ready to serve.