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Pastor’s suicide shocks North Carolina church

September 29, 2009

David Treadway was found dead in his car last Sunday morning.  This article tells about this pastor who apparently took his own life in Hickory, NC. His wife discovered his body as she prepared to leave their house for church. It is a very sad outcome about a minister who was struggling with depression on the inside but on the outside was leading a growing congregation that was impacting its community for Christ. My heart goes out to his wife who will have to not only deal with this devastating loss but also try to explain this to the children.

There are a number of thoughts that come to my mind about this story, but I won’t go into all of them right now. However, it is worth mentioning that before we start judging or criticizing this man for this life ending act we need to realize one simple truth: this could happen to anybody.

Yes, I realize that is somewhat of a sweeping generalization but the reality is that there are any number of individuals who are wrestling with troubles that are sufficating them. Some can literally see no way out of their despair and they are suffering in a quiet and real way with a smile of their face. My primary interest rests with fellow pastors and other ministers, many of whom are dealing with pressures related to church, health, and home life. It’s a never ending juggling act and I can definitely relate to someone who gets to the point they can’t go on anymore. Not every minister has an adequate support system within the church and also equally important friends outside the church who can offer an understanding and non-threatening presence during a critical period.

I don’t have the medical expertise to offer comments about clinical depression, and it appears that is an issue in Treadway’s death. According to the ABP story, he had informed his congregation that he was receiving treatment for this condition. It’s hard to understand how someone could be experiencing depression when it seemed like things were going well. From what I have read and been told by those who do struggle with this condition, life experiences don’t always have an affect on whether or not someone is suffering from depression.

One final thought relates to this issue of suicide itself. It has to be difficult to officiate at a funeral of this nature, and there are many emotions stirring among family and friends. There are many questions that will never be answered, but it is important not to allow an act carried out in the last remaining moments of a person’s life to overshadow the entirety of that person’s life up to that point. Sometimes good people make bad decisions, and it is hard to figure out something like someone killing himself especially when it appears things are going well. We must tread carefully and softly when we don’t know all the details, and most of all believe that God is a gracious God who loves his children and will take care of us even when we don’t understand.

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