I wrote about this movie in late July when the star of Exit: The Appeal of Suicide Ray Comfort appeared on the David Barton’s Wallbuilders Live show. I didn’t think highly of what they had to say about depression at the time but withheld judgment about the movie because I hadn’t seen it. I watched it recently and cannot recommend it. On balance, I don’t believe it is a helpful movie about suicide or something I can recommend for those who might be contemplating suicide.
The first thing a viewer sees is the image above. The movie never identifies the “many experts” or provides any evidence for their alleged belief that the vast majority of cases aren’t organic. In fact, some cases are probably not organic but the cutting edge of research into depression involves genetics, neuroscience and adaptation. The adaptation aspect of the picture does involve experience but the prevailing view is that depression is the result of many factors operating differently for different people (source). For many people, depression arises without warning or environmental trigger.
However, for the most part, Comfort and crew ignore all of that. Comfort converses with several depressed college students and eventually turns the conversation to their sinfulness in an effort to get them to convert to his approach to Christianity. I say “his approach” because a couple of the students seemed to have some religious background. However, they didn’t answer Comfort’s questions according to his liking and he persisted in pressing for a conversion.
I had planned to review this movie more extensively. However, after watching it, I don’t see the point. Comfort’s answer to depression and suicide is for the depressed person to get saved. If depressed Christians watched this movie, I don’t know what they would come away with. I suspect many Christians watching this movie will question their faith at just the time they need it. I can’t see how that would be helpful.
An Evangelism Tool
In the end, this movie is an evangelism tool. Comfort wants to make converts and he has used depression and suicide to set the stage for his evangelism pitch. In the end, Comfort and crew offer disclaimers and offer an option to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255). However, the message had already been made very clear. The answer for depression is to become a Christian the Ray Comfort way.
I suspect Comfort and his mates mean well. They don’t want people to hurt or be depressed and I suspect they really believe that Christian salvation is required to be free of depression. However, this is an inadequate assessment of the situation.
Although depression is multi-faceted and for some might be improved by making a spiritual commitment, this is not the case for many others. Devout Christians experience depression without any obvious triggers. For some, their moods simply do not follow a normal course of regulation. Their lows are too low and/or their highs too high. While Christian salvation might help them feel more grounded and connect them to the supernatural, it won’t touch the causes of their mood disorder. Having Christians tell them to pray harder or accept Christ more sincerely is unhelpful and may indeed cause such despair that the efforts become harmful.
Because this movie so badly misses the mark, I can’t recommend it.