[Diocese of Western New York] Residents of Randolph, New York, awoke May 20 to a village-wide rash of vandalism. Buildings had been spray painted with graffiti — some malicious and some an apparent cry for help.
Across the side of Grace Episcopal Church was painted a question of the second type: “Can I still get to heaven if I kill myself?”
As the Cattaraugus Sherriff’s Department spent the day investigating, the Rev. Tom Broad, Grace Church’s priest, pondered what the church’s immediate response might be. His idea was an unconventional one.
After conferring with two of the church’s lay leaders, he borrowed a can of spray paint from a neighbor and added the church’s reply: “God loves you with no exceptions!”
The question is a very real one in this town that has had its share of teen suicides. According to the CDC’s National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) 2011 survey, 19.3% of female respondents and 12.5% of male respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the 12-month period preceding the survey. The YRBS monitors priority health risk behaviors that
contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. The national YRBS is conducted every two years during the spring semester and provides data representative of 9th through 12th grade students in public and private schools throughout the United States.