Jovan's Tragic Journey
Imagine: Jovan is on top of the world – athletic football star, first string starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, father of a beautiful three-month-old daughter. But a rash decision during a heated argument forfeits it all. And today, two lives are tragically snuffed out – a young, new mother violently murdered and a hotheaded "hero" … by suicide.
But, how could this horror have even happened? Financial issues, strained relationships, changing family dynamics – sound familiar? Actually, everyone must contend with these stressors at some point. And while they are difficult for everyone, for some, they are deadly. Add alcohol, immaturity and a gun ... and a catastrophic concoction has just been created for NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher, causing him to commit the murder/suicide that drew worldwide headlines.1
The Prevention Plan
If you are in the midst of a turbulent relationship ... if you are seriously wanting to harm someone ... if you are contemplating suicide, plan now to avoid making the same type of impetuous, overpowering choices that can only cause immeasurable pain – choices that are irreversibly permanent. Before you are tempted to take violent action, decide now … 2
1. I will not:
• Act on impulse or act rashly
• Take any action that is harmful or even potentially harmful to myself, others or property
• Drive my automobile if there is a possibility of driving recklessly
"Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways'" (Haggai 1:5 NIV).
2. I will pray:
"In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame ... come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me" (Psalm 31:1-2 NIV; pray verses 1-9, 14-24).
3. I will claim God's promises:
"My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life" (Psalm 119:50 NIV).
4. I will recite Scriptures aloud:
"Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed" (Psalm 57:1 NIV).
5. I will question myself:
• "Why do I feel the need to hurt myself – or others?"
• "What do I think I will accomplish through this?"
• "What impact would this act have on those who care about me?"
• "Would God approve of this?"
• "Would the people I love approve of this?"
• "Would the people who care about me approve of this?"
"The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception" (Proverbs 14:8 NIV).
Yet for Jovan ... it's too late ... He kneels over the bloodied form of the woman he loved and asks forgiveness, but she is already dead – with nine bullets in her body. Then he says good-bye to his mother and infant daughter and drives to Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs' home field. Outside the team facility, Jovan thanks his mentors for their investment in his life, asking them to care for his child. Emotionally devastated by his impulsive crime, he ends his own life.
So ... what lessons can we learn from this lingering tragedy? Do not allow your story to mirror these anguishing scenes of brokenness. Instead resolve …
6. I will make positive affirmations:
• "God loves me and has a purpose for my life."
• "Because God has a plan for me, I will treat the body He gave me with respect."
• "Because God loves all people, I will treat others with kindness and respect."
• "Even though I can't see the future, I will walk by faith, not by sight."
The Lord says, "For I know the plans I have for you ... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
7. I will review encouraging words:
• Read aloud positive letters and notes from friends and family
• Review positive thoughts of why it's worth it to wait ... and heal
• Recall those who believe in me and my growth
• Remember what others have said about why there is hope for me
• Rehearse God's promise:
"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31: NIV).
8. I will listen to uplifting praise music:
"Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name" (Psalm 30:4 NIV).
9. I will consider how special it is to be a child of God:
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1 NIV).
10. I will call for help:
• If I continue to spiral downward emotionally and recognize that I am in a crisis, I will reach out and call others who will be helpful and truthful. They can help me regain perspective.
• I will continue to call until I have reached someone. I will state directly, "I am calling because I am in an emotional crisis."
• I will honestly discuss the feelings and events that led to the crisis and seek possible solutions.
• I will continue making as many phone calls as necessary until the crisis is resolved, no matter what time of day or night.
But who would you call? Having a list already prepared, can be a matter of life and death.
Here is help for compiling a call list:
Crisis Hot Line _________________________________
Hope For The Heart 1-800-488-HOPE (4673)
Suicide Prevention 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV).
Prepare your response before a crisis
Most likely, Jovan Belcher made no preparations for dealing with an emotional crisis, but he absolutely regretted his violent, impulsive behavior and ultimately, saw no way out but to forfeit his own life. This fact is certain: Suicide is never the right response in a crisis … never.
You are a unique creation of God. Your life has invaluable significance to Him, and He has unique plans for your life. Therefore, plan now to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others. Never forget, He promises to give you ... hope for your heart.
2. Ten Steps adapted from June Hunt, Suicide Prevention: Hope When Life Seems Hopeless Biblical Counseling Keys Library (Dallas: Hope for the Heart, 2010) 35-37.
June Hunt, counselor, author, radio host and founder of the worldwide ministry Hope For The Heart, offers a biblical perspective while coaching people through some of life's most difficult problems. June is the author of How to Forgive . . . When You Don't Feel Like It, © 2007 Harvest House Publishers. Learn more about June and Hope for the Heart by visiting hopefortheheart.org/CP. Here you can connect with June on Facebook and Twitter, listen to her radio broadcasts, or find much-needed resources.Hope for the Heart provides spiritual guidance, heartfelt prayer, multi-media resources, and biblical wise-counseling. Call 1-800-488-HOPE (4673) to visit with a Hope Care Representative, 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 a.m. (CST).