Dear Dr. Graham:

My high school is in shock, because last week one of our classmates took his life. He always seemed like a nice person, although I guess he didn’t have many friends. What could we have done? I feel guilty for not helping him somehow.

— J.J.

Dear Reader: Whenever I answer a question about suicide in this column, I am deeply aware that someone may be reading this who is considering taking their own life, and I take this very seriously. I only wish I could put my arm around your shoulder and assure you of my love — and most of all, of God’s love for you. No matter how desperate or depressed you may feel, with Christ there is hope. Reach out to him, and also to someone who can help you with your problems.

Without exception, suicide is always a profound tragedy — always. Not only does it cut short a person’s life, but it inevitably leaves behind it a trail of heartache and guilt. This is especially true when a young person takes his or her life, and I grieve over the way this has become a growing problem in our society. God will not hold those guiltless who glamorize or encourage suicide.

May this tragedy cause you and your classmates to be more sensitive to those who seem lonely or alienated — not just now, but for the rest of your lives. What difference might one of you have made in this young man’s life?

Most of all, may God use this to remind you of the seriousness of life, and may this cause you to turn to Christ and commit your life to him. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. ... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).