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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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55 Responses to 710

  1. David says:

    Philippians 1:21 (New International Version)

    21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

  2. Lisa says:

    My mom committed suicide when I was 4. Growing up, I heard from church members that all those who commited suicide were in hell. I can’t wait to see her again. Thanks for this.

  3. jonbirch says:

    lisa… thank you ever so much. i was genuinely concerned, as i was many months ago when i did cartoons on self harming, not to upset or offend anyone for whom this was an issue close to home. i very much appreciate your comment. people can be cruel or unthinking, but i’m glad you’ve found you’re way forward despite this. i hope you have the best reunion party ever! :-)

  4. Forrest says:

    “Church People” can be so cruel. We cannot imagine what unbelievable hurt and hopelessness lead a person to suicide. Mental illness can do same.

    We also can only barely imagine how God handles the matter. What’s that line about his ways are not our ways.

    Don’t know how to explain it, but I don’t see it as selfish.
    What is that is selfish about collapsing under a load of incredible pain and despair with no apparent end or solution????

    What might the “spectators” there not have done to love Mr. Smith on account of being all wrapped up in their own lives??

    Some people respond to love, some are too far gone to keep alive.

    Once read a fantasy novel “Planet of Tears” – yep, this is. And sometimes the anguish behind those tears drowns and buries hope so far down it is not salvageable.

    And when a person sees his own life as not salvageable, what other outcome can be expected?

    Do not judge and condemn those who have commited suicide – you can not be certain that you can not come to that place.
    And it is arrogant to assume yourself invulnerable.

    love those who have had un-livable hurt and their families.

  5. jonbirch says:

    couldn’t agree more, forrest.

    btw… it was robb prompted me to do a cartoon on this subject. i am grateful he did.

  6. The Millers says:

    That God would even look on me… I can only imagine his mercy is boundless. But if such a large amount of mercy could increase, I could see God increasing it for the most desperate (not decreasing it).

  7. beckyG says:

    I had a friend commit suicide when I was a senior in college. I hated the catholic priest who officiated at her funeral as he couldn’t tell us she was in heaven. I had lost my parents by then and took great comfort in knowing they were at peace with God. Then I had a Freudian psychologist cousin who said it was her parents fault. Not helpful either.

  8. Wulf says:

    I totally agree with Becky. We are always so very eager to find someone who we can blame.
    I once did an interview with a lady who’s husband had willingly infected her with AIDS. Not only did people blame her for her sickness (note: AIDS is ALWAYS a punishment from God), the readers of the Christian magazine that published the interview also wrote angry letters because we had not condemned the woman.
    I think, judging others is a seriously dangerous games. And yes, of course I do it myself …

  9. dennis says:

    reminds me of a pink floyd song that always touches me, goodbye cruel world.
    Powerful cartoon Jon.

  10. miriworm says:

    Anyone know the scriptural basis for thinking suicides don’t get to heaven? I don’t.

  11. Wulf says:

    I think it has to do with the sixth commandment: You shall not murder (including yourself)
    So suicide would be on the same level as not keeping the Sabbath holy ;-)

  12. AnneDroid says:

    What a moving cartoon.

  13. miriworm says:

    #11 Obvious really I suppose but does that mean I can take revenge on myself OT style for doing it? :-)

  14. Robb says:

    Yeah, I asked Jon to do the cartoon because I wanted to explore the issue.

    I was asked what my opinion of suicide was and I only had one answer… I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it.

    On my 17th birthday we buried a girl who was in my close social group at school. As far as we knew she was the as happy go lucky as they come. On the day that she took her own life she had one of our other close friends clear out the garage so that the car would fit in “as a suprise for her parents who had been away for the weekend”. Her parents came back to find the car running in the garage.

    Our friend who helped clear the garage was distraught.

    The people who knew her didn’t know what to do or what to say to each other.

    Everyone in the local took the opportunity to have a mass outpouring of grief for someone that they didn’t know. People who had never met her went to the funeral and had a good cry, wailing in the aisles. People who did know her didn’t know what to do with that. Most of us were just numb. bet that is how Prince Harry and William felt as their grieving was taken away from them by the public hysteria.

    Then I went for my first driving lesson…

    So thanks Jon for letting me hear what people think about it.

  15. Robb says:

    BTW – sorry if it Bums you all out.

  16. Pingback: Suicide « Muffinmn0302’s Weblog

  17. Caroline Too says:

    I do wish that we could learn to grieve and lament rather than
    having to explain…

    the origins of so much of our judgementalism is our need to
    explain why… hence, usually, a need to blame…

    why don’t we just grieve? lament? give ourselves some time to feel

    anguish, (that we probably didn’t realise…)
    guilt (that we could have done something to help…)
    anger (at the pain of others left behind)
    compassion (for a soul in such torment…)

    there’s such a muddle of feelings,that we hide behind the
    need to explain why… to know why… to apportion blame…

    it takes time (and we have so little time) it takes emotion (and
    that’s scarey) if only we could grieve.

  18. John Davies says:

    Thanks for tackling this difficult topic. I’m a vicar on a Liverpool housing estate; last week we held a funeral service for a mum who had taken her own life. At the start of the service we made it clear that we don’t hold with the judgemental view of suicides which others might; we didn’t get the impression that many – if any – there did. The church was packed and there were a couple of hundred outside too. At the end, as Janette’s coffin was processed out, all these people spontaneously applauded. Fascinating to contemplate what that applause may have been saying; it was clearly not saying, ‘we condemn you': far from it.

  19. jonbirch says:

    john davies… wow!

  20. jonbirch says:

    caroline too… i refer you to cartoon no. 704. ;-)

    it is interesting how different ‘brands’ (wrong word) of christian, respond so very differently to this issue. compare the reaction of christians in comment 8 to the reaction of christians in comment 18. are these really the same religion? the principles and behaviours demonstrated lead me to think not, at least not in anything other than name. the difference is breathtaking.

    reading the compassion in these comments is a tonic. thank you.

  21. grace says:

    I think it’s always refreshing when Christians dare to begin to discuss suicide. It’s something that few are able ever to consider with out being forced to think a little more deeply…

  22. Steph says:

    I’m a Christian and I’m in this place, knowing it’s wrong but it’s still a fight to stay alive each day.
    My Christian friends have been amazing, so caring and compassionate and the complete opposite to the attitude portrayed. There’s hope for us yet!

  23. Caroline Too says:


    such a priviledge to read your story, thank you.

    I’ve walked that ‘precipice’ road myself, and I’m delighted to read
    that your christian friends are keeping you company. I call it the
    divine plod: ‘when in doubt, plod on’, sometimes that is achievement

    hurrah, for you Steph!

  24. rebecca says:

    I don’t actually know anyone who’s killed themself, although I know a few people who have come very close to doing so. Including me.

    The message about being 59k in arrears made me think of this story (which I’ve previously used as an argument against junk mail!)


    Speaking of the Guardian, the Guardian style guide advises against the use of the term “commit suicide” — because it suggests that suicide is a crime which someone “commits”. Their point is that it can cause extra distress to the bereaved to suggest that their loved one has committed a crime! (Perhaps it would also cause distress to the dead person if they knew about it?)

  25. jonbirch says:

    hurrah, for you, steph! indeed…
    may grace hold you close to her and may love enfold you. your honesty is a blessing to us all. thank you. :-)

    yes, rebecca. suicide should not be viewed as a crime. the real crime is that people should have to deal with such deep, deep sadness. thank you.

  26. miriworm says:

    Anyone called CSI just to check? :-)

  27. beatthedrum says:


    I frequently cry over people and situations that are removed from me. Often when I am in the car listening to radio 5 and a piece on a subject comes up I often find myself crying for the situation and for my Father to bring healing / peace/ love into the situation.

    I never did this before I became a christain but do so not. Sometimes the spirit can move us to tears of these things.

    On suicide I do not know of any verse that ‘sends someone to hell for suicide’ It may be there but i have not come across it.

    I guess the real issue here is that we need to spend more time loving people in these sorts of situations not judging them.

    Thanks jon and Robb for this cartoon

    Brilliant as ever.


  28. Andy M says:

    “But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!”
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

    I have a hard time to really understand what would lead someone to suicide, but it really grieves me that there are so many people at a point in their lives that they would possibly commit suicide. I would guess that the word “commit” is used because to end your life is the ultimate commitment, there is no turning back.

    I hope that through my life that I would show people enough love, and help them see a purpose for their lives, that they see the hope for the world that I see. Because, isn’t suicide the loss of all hope? People can endure the most horrible of things, if they have hope of a better world.

  29. Robb says:

    I know what you mean Beat, but when you can’t get into a church to say goodbye to someone you love because of professional mourners…

    Like caroline too said, We are very bad at lamenting the passing of something bad. We aren’t good at dealing with grief. We tend to store it up and then project into other people’s situations (Princess Di for example) because we can’t deal with our own.

    I think that when my friend took her own life everyone went mental about it regardless of whether they knew personally because they couldn’t imagine having to deal with it themselves.

    It struck us as really odd that people came from a town 10 miles away who hadn’t met her and we couldn’t get into the funeral. I stood at the back.

    I’m not saying that is what it is about. Where my seat was is not important, what I am trying to express is a wonderment at the desire of other people to cram up to the front of a church and cry for someone the didn’t know. It made it very difficult for those of us who knew her to grieve over the top of them.

    I remember the run up to it. Not one of us knew what she was going through. She would sit with her best mate and me and my best mate through our lunch hour and write songs [and then endure knocking on heavens door played badly for the zillionth time] with us and yet we knew nothing was troubling her. Still we don’t know why. We don’t know whether she intended her parents to find her as a way of finally telling someone how hard it was for her and what she was struggling with. Just one day we came to school and she was gone.

    I remember at the time I had been through my “going to church phase” where I was “looking for God” and the church didn’t even want to speak to me. Then I was in a different church at the first funeral I ever went to, someone I knew well who took their own life thinking……



    …..surely this shouldn’t be happening in a church. They don’t like that kind of thing.

    Watching a very sensitive service performed by a caring vicar.

    Didn’t change my mind about God but it changed my mind about the attitudes of the church.

  30. Lewis says:

    I don’t think it’s for us to judge who’s going to heaven. At least not now.

  31. émie says:

    it drives me mad the people who condem people who commit suicide. i think i asked my dad about it once (he’s a minister) but i already had my own opinion on it.

    i don’t want to believe in their God, their God who send people to hell like that. i don’t want to follow a God who sends babies who haven’t been christiened to hell either.

    i believe in a God of love, and forgiveness, and compassion, and grace, and mercy. a God who has a never ending suply of it and wants to lavish it on us always. sometimes i think the devil pulls us away from God, and i don’t think it’s our fault, i think the devil knows how to push our buttons.
    and life can get on top of us sometimes.

    in some ways i want to believe the people who have either been abused for most their lives, who have committed suicide just becuase God wants to show them that there is something beautiful, there is happiness, and hope and they are loved.
    but i doubt that’s true.

  32. Kim says:

    Hi. It was me who asked Robb for insight on this issue, as he is indeed a wise and compassionate guy. Its great that he widened it out and I’ve really appreciated the comments. Thanks.

  33. Forrest says:

    Go Steph!
    You’re doing it!
    And the daily, right now, for this moment, ‘doing’ is what works.

    Ya know, will decide to let out some things about me here.

    Some ways I look at it (from a perspective of being bipolar) are:
    – every day I’m here I win the battle that day.
    – if I did that, I’d never get my model railroad finished :-)
    – there’s still some stunt kites I want to buy and try
    – my lame cat would miss me
    – Kathy my wife would miss me
    – who might God use me to help and/or bless that day?
    I’d feel kind of bad about disappointing him since he loves me so much.
    – every day I’m here: that day, I win the fight.

    Admittedly, some days there’s great weariness of fighting, but then, honestly, what keeps things going is I want to be around to get my train layout done!
    And I expect to spend at least several decades on it ;-D And help Kathy with her own.

    Okay, that may not be what “Christians” are “Supposed” to use in that situation, but hey, it works for me! And God ain’t said it’s unreasonable!

    Okay, now it’s evil twisted diabolical inpatient psychiatric humor time –
    Some folks may or may not ‘get’ the following –>

    One time when in the psych ward I got so fed up with being asked if I was suicidal pretty much every time staff interacted with me that just for fun I answered, “No, but next person who asks me that blankety-blank question for the 400th time is going to find out I’m homicidal: and guess what – you’re the next person!”
    The look on her face till she figured out I was being a sarcastic little snot was priceless.

  34. jonbirch says:

    great story, forrest… and honest as ever. you are a good man. :-)
    ps. how big’s your train layout and how detailed?.. and is kathy really making a train layout too? cool.

  35. jonbirch says:

    kim… thanks. i hope the views, opinions and experiences shared here are helpful to you. :-)

  36. Forrest says:

    my layout is just starting, gave Kathy all my HO “Old Timers” and I started new in Gn15: also tinker in On30, On16.5 in UK terminology.
    Somewhere there’s photos of hers? (ah, Yahoo Group named trains on shelves let me see if can copy them into my blog) Hers is an “L” shaped shelf 18 inches wide and the length of a door each leg.

    Mine will be about 24 inches wide and 12 feet long.
    (okay, see blog link for photos of hers){my Gn15 projects are scattered all over a forum titled GnATTERBOX}

  37. Carole says:

    This is a really tragic one, Jon. Thanks for everyone’s comments. We recently heard that a former colleague of Phil’s has recently taken his own life. They’d lost touch but it is highly probable that he was in debt…and in their job, which is commission based, it is a particularly rough time at the mo with the credit crunch. Awful! :(

    I can relate to what BTD says about feeling for situations removed from you. I get very emotional these days about things I see on TV or hear second hand…either the Spirit or possibly hormones in my case!

    As for what Robb says about the’Princess Di’ factor – I really have mixed feelings about that. I agree that the two princes were not given appropriate respect for their personal loss as the masses claimed their mother as ‘the people’s princess’. We’ve seen it more recently with Jade Goody’s illness and death. I wonder if part of the distaste I feel for it is a British thing – it’s OK for other hot-blooded cultures to respond like this, but we are British and should have more ‘dignity and reserve.’ Would we benefit from throwing ourselves more into public lament? I don’t know. Phil is under strict instructions that if I end my days wrapped around a lamp post and some well meaning but misguided individual sticks a bunch of flowers there with a bit of gaffer tape, it is to be removed immediately. I would hate to be reminded of the spot that a loved one tragically died every time I went about my business. I should think there are enough painful reminders without bundles of dried up chrysanthemums to worry about. No offence intended to anybody here, pavement shrines are just not for me.

    But grief hi-jacking can happen on a much smaller scale. When I was at my mum’s funeral I got a bit annoyed by distant relatives that I spoke to who used it as an opportunity to lament their own griefs. I was tempted to ask, “Whose funeral is it anyway?” But standing back and getting less emotional about it, I figure that there is but one grief, and when the flood gates are opened it will come out. When we go to a funeral, we mourn for everyone we’ve ever lost, not just the person whose ‘life we are celebrating’ on that day. Like I say, I have mixed feelings about the whole issue of expression of grief.

  38. beatthedrum says:

    We forget that morning and grieving are things that are good for us and if you want to put it this way ‘scriptual’.

    We need to morn and grieve for those around us. We also need to bring comfort and hope to those who morn and grieve!

  39. must admit that I’ve been pondering about this for a while. The only thing that’s actually kept me from going through with it, is that, I don’t want to end up in hell (blame it on my Catholic upbringing). If I had the assurance that God would just snuff me out of existence, consciousness then I’d go ahead and do it. But I don’t have this assurance and so continue to live in my version of hell
    Sorry, just had to say it

  40. Robb says:

    Beat – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”!!

    Kim – The African – I’m sorry to hear this. Thanks for sharing with us. It is the sort of cold hard shock that we often need.

  41. theseoldshades says:

    Kim- I don’t know that there is much which can be said to make things ‘better’ but you are in my prayers and there is love flying from Cardiff to wherever you are.

  42. beckyG says:

    37. Carole – i hear you. My grandmother was very popular until she was too sick to throw parties – then pretty much everyone abandoned her. When she died, they turned out in droves. I wanted to smack them for their hypocrisy for crying.

    re: Princess Di – I had an affinity to her as we were born on the exact same day. I remember watching her wedding and thinking there’s NO way I’m ready to get married, what is she thinking? What I loved about her was how she did gestures like touch a man with AIDS in the ’80s and other acts that made many of us around the world feel like she was one of us. So when she died, we all felt a bit sad like when we lose a beloved actor who filled us with happiness. I agree that is hard for the family to grieve in a situation like this – and it seems she had a brother and a few others who seemed to be using the situation for their time in the spotlight, which only adds to the weirdness that goes when someone dies.

    With my friend’s death not only did the priest not comfort us but the college didn’t hold any kind of a memorial service or even mention her passing in the school paper. She was the ringleader that brought a number of us together – after she died we drifted apart because we couldn’t handle the grief. One gesture that did stand out from my friend’s funerals – as i was about to graduate, her mother sent a number of us small graduation gifts. she said she used the money she would have spent on her daughter on us – that was amazingly touching.

  43. gilly says:

    I’ve been in the interesting position
    of being part of a number of funerals
    for people who have ended their lives themselves.

    I’ve not come across the opinion portrayed here…..for Years now.
    Maybe we’ve just got an especially brilliant minister who takes these funerals in our area….

    A topic that needs airing though. Thank you

  44. HisGal says:

    …feeling odd today and as if I don’t understand anything anymore..yesterday we were faced with a horrific Queensday which is still in my system and makes me nauseous..then after a rough nite with scary dreams about what happened, today was told that one of my co-workers decided that her life was not worth living anymore and jumped off a building..can’t get my head around these ‘issues’ and am totally gobsmacked..my mind just stands still, but at the same time thoughts and images are raging somehow..I know you folks can’t help me, but just wanted to share that I feel lost, ‘out of place’ and am longing for Home..

  45. jonbirch says:

    hi, hisgal… what a horrible couple of days… very hard. i’m not surprised you’re feeling displaced. i presume you’re in holland. where is home for you?
    i’ll be thinking of you.

  46. Sophie says:

    Hi HisGal, also thinking of you. x

  47. Sophie says:

    Thinking about the way that people react really harshly to others, and think that God does too, I can recommend a book called ‘Good Goats – healing our image of God’ by the Linns. It helped me to think about God not being scary, horrid, and a fan of sending people to hell. One of the things they say is that God loves us at least as much as the person who loves us the most, so if your mum/best mate/lover is unlikely to wish you an eternity in Hell it’s pretty unlikely that God does.

    They also say that we become like the God we worship, so we can’t get less judgemental unless we come to an understanding that God is less judgemental.

  48. HisGal says:

    Dear Jon and Sophie, thank you. real kind of you..Holland is in need of healing..

    Home for me is Heaven, Jon..it may sound not all too intellectual and profound, but I sometimes just wanna be with Jesus..physically sitting on His lap being cradled..experiencing the peace of His actual presence instead of having to deal with all these situations which confuse and shock me to the core..

  49. Pat says:

    HisGal – encircling you with love and prayer

    God to enfold you
    Christ to uphold you
    Spirit to keep you in Heaven’s sight.
    So may God grace you
    Shield and embrace you,
    Lead you through darkness
    into the light.

    (words: John Bell)

  50. Robb says:

    BeckyG – I can see why people had an affinity for her as she got involved in a lot of things that got her wide exposure giving the perception of accessibility. She was less keen to come and open a local hospice. After 3 years of being rejected they gave up and asked Charles. He said yes and cleared a space in his diary straight away.

    I doubt there will be the same outpouring of grief for him.

    HisGal – I’m so sorry to hear this!

    Gilly – I suspect that there are lots of brilliant ministers out there. As I say, the minister at the funeral I went to totally turned perception on its head! I think that a lot of the negative vibes are in the popular perception outside of the church.

  51. HisGal says:

    oh dear..tears just keep coming..thank you SO much, Pat..I treasure your and John Bells words..

  52. Pat says:

    Kim @ 39 and HisGal – thinking about both of you as I wind down for the night and hoping that you have both found a still, quiet place somewhere to shelter from your storms. May you both know the deep peace of Christ.

  53. Hannah says:

    Thankyou for this,
    My cousin committed suicide when she was 14 and I was 12, she had been my best friend. She love God, but unknown to us she was clinically depressed – a mental illness. Sickness cannot be sin, and I’ve been an advocate of that viewpoint eversince I lost her.
    love and peace

  54. jonbirch says:

    bless you hannah… and thank you. ;-)

  55. bambam says:

    absojesus keeps me from doing this to myself, and keeps me from abandoning god, and keeps me in the realization that even when i can’t perceive his presence that he is closer than next to me, he is inside me with his holy spirit. thank you for making me feel not so alone abso. and i am almost completely alone from a worldly view. see you on the other side, but probably not today or tomorrow. one of these days though. i don’t know about heavenly protocol but i am going to run and jump up into my abba daddy papa’s lap and give him a big hug and i’m not going to let go.

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