Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"You May Want This"

Those were his last words, as reported by the AP.  It's a very sad story:

A man shot and killed himself in front of a cross inside televangelist Robert H. Schuller's Crystal Cathedral on Wednesday as a nearby volunteer told a group of visitors about the church's suicide-prevention program, police and church officials said.

His name was Steve Smick, he was 48 years old, and moments earlier he had handed to a volunteer a folder containing his driver's license and the location of his truck in the parking lot. This is curiously considerate behavior for a man who is planning to do something terrible (and wicked) in your church soon afterward.  It's a strange but touching detail.

Nothing glib here, because although the story is odd, it isn't funny.  We feel very sad for Mr. Smick. We don't know his story, and suppose we never will, but we wish that he had spoken to somebody -- the Crystal Cathedral program at (714) 639-4673, the national suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433, a psychotherapist or an old friend -- who could have helped him find some other way to banish the demons.  

We wish that, instead of handing his folder to the guide, he had simply told her what was on her mind.  We may have some concerns about Robert Schuller and his ministry, but we'll bet there was somebody nearby who would have done whatever it took to keep Mr. Smick alive.

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