Europe

Suicide in Europe

Out of the ten countries in the world with the highest suicide rates, nine of them are in Europe.  In 2011, the suicide prevention line in Ireland got 99 phone calls a day!  According to the most recent data available (from the WHO website), in Europe 123,853 people commit suicide every year.  That’s an average of 339 people per day!  The highest suicide rates are reported among people aged 65+ (21.9 per 100,000 population) and 45–59 (21.5 per 100,000 population). Suicide is not a respecter of age, race, gender, nationality, or socioeconomic status.  A really good friend of mine had made his first $1 million before he was 21.  He had so much money and power.  Everything he wanted, he could buy.  Even though he seemed to "have it all," at the end of the day, life seemed totally pointless to him.  There was really no purpose to his life.  So one night he started writing his suicide note.  That same night, for the first time in his life, he prayed to God (whom he didn't believe in) that "if you are real, show me!"  Literally the next day, he was engulfed in a community of Christians who would love him like he’d never known love, and he encountered God in a real and authentic way.

As a former Youth Pastor in Minnesota, I have been to more funerals of suicide victims than I care to count.  If you talk to people who have thought about committing suicide, or have survived suicide attempts, the number one reason people want to cut their life short is because they feel hopeless.  They don’t believe they have anything to live for and they can’t imagine life getting any better.  For them, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

For many Europeans, this is their reality.  339 of them literally feel hopeless and daily take their own life.

State of the Church in Europe

The continent which boasts some of the worlds most beautiful cathedrals, now is one of the spiritually darkest regions on the planet.  In the past 30 years in Germany, the percentage of people who believe in God has dropped from 72% to 43%.  In the Czech Republic, only 30% of people believe in God.  So 2 out of every 3 people you meet in the Czech Republic don’t believe in God.  And only 15-20% of Europeans would say that God is an important part of their life. In college, I got to live and study in Copenhagen, Denmark.  It’s one of my favorite places in the world!  Only 9% of Danes believe religion (of any kind) is important – 1 in 10 people.  When it comes to actually going to church, in 2008, 14% of Europeans attended church weekly.  In Germany, only 6% of people go to church on a weekly basis.

Back in 1980, 23% of Europeans said they had a great deal of confidence in the church (so, at most, 1 in every 4 people you met), but by 2008, only 11% of people had any confidence whatsoever in the church.

Europe’s cathedrals used to be packed out!  They were not simply built so big to God's glory, they made them so big so that everyone could fit in them.  But today, most of them literally stand empty and a lot of them have even been sold and turned into businesses, schools and stores.

Did you know that hospitals were started in Europe by Christians?  At one time in history, Christians were the only people willing to care for the sick and poor, even, and especially, during the bubonic plague.  Today in Europe, there are countless people who truly do not know a single Christian...