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Leadership And Suicide: When Ending It Seems Like the Only Way Out


by Carey Nieuwhof: It’s so hard to write a post like this.

Hard because it’s something that has impacted so many people and it’s so close to so many of our hearts.

As many of you have likely heard, last week Andrew Stoecklein, the pastor of Inland Hills Church, took his own life at age 30 after a battle with anxiety and depression. That’s a picture of Andrew, his wife Kayla, and their boys, above.

I never met Andrew or his family  nor have I visited his church, but, like so many of you, I’m devastated for everyone involved. His wife Kayla wrote a moving tribute on her blog, and Andrew’s death made national and international news.

That’s difficult enough, and all of us need to pray for Kayla, their boys, family and church. (And please consider giving to this GoFundMe campaign to help support Kayla and the boys.)

The other reason it’s hard to write this post is because I don’t even like to admit I was there too a number of years ago myself.

My story isn’t a long battle with anxiety and depression per se. The way I got to suicidal thoughts was through burnout. And the worst part of my burnout in the summer of 2006 was a season when I thought that ending it was the most logical and least painful way out.

You know how hard it is to talk about this stuff? I’ll tell you how hard. In my new book I have an entire section on burnout and how to overcome it, but I only gave five paragraphs to my battle with suicidal thoughts. Honestly, I was just too terrified/embarrassed/ashamed to write more.

But today, in light of the widespread dialogue that’s emerged over around Andrew’s passing, I’m going to give it a few more paragraphs, because like many of you, I was so saddened to learn about the suicide of a leader who by every appearances had so much going well: a wife who loved him, three sons, a great church and a future.

Let me say it again before we dive into more words: maybe you’ve thought the only way through your pain is to end your pain. It’s not…


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