David Nasser, vice president of spiritual development for Liberty University, shared a moving tribute Wednesday morning to the late Jarrid Wilson, who took his life late Monday night, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day.
Speaking during the university’s mid-week convocation service, Nasser referenced a tweet Wilson posted just hours before he ended his life. In the tweet, the 30-year-old pastor said Jesus “doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” but nevertheless offers us “companionship and comfort.”
“This was his tweet two days ago — so true,” Nasser told students. “I think we honor him by letting him preach that sermon to us right now. It is so true.”
“And I think if we would let Jarrid have the mic today, he would say, ‘If you are struggling with the thought of suicide, you’re not alone. You’re not alone,’” he continued. “And so, rather than Jesus juking you with a big Bible verse for the moment — listen to me, look at me — just find community. Find a friend.”
Wilson was a recent graduate of the Lynchburg, Virginia, college.
In January, he announced via Twitter he he graduated with a degree in theology and biblical studies from Liberty’s Willmington School of the Bible.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m thrilled to say that I stuck with it and completed my degree program,” Wilson tweeted at the time, just months after praising Liberty for extending his scholarship so he could complete his seminary degree.
Wilson, who served for 18 months as an associate pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, the megachurch founded in 1973 by Pastor Greg Laurie, was very transparent about his struggle with mental illness, even revealing his own history with suicidal thoughts.
Last summer, during an interview with Faithwire, he shared details about his decision to become a Christian in 2007. At the time, he was contemplating suicide while sitting alone in his car.
But, as he was searching the internet for “painless” ways to end his life, Wilson said, “This flood of emotions and wisdom and guidance and God’s presence just began to infiltrate my life.”
“I started remembering the things I’d heard from [Pastor Greg] and the passages of Scripture I had memorized, the Bible studies I had been to, devotionals I had read, and the conversations I had with my family,” he continued.
During his comments Wednesday, Nasser made clear it’s OK to love Jesus and still struggle with mental health and suicidal ideation.
“If you’re dealing with that today,” he said, “you don’t have to be alone in this. Tell a friend.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, or you just need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re looking for counseling services in your area, consult the Christian Counselors Network.
Wilson leaves behind his wife, Juli, and their two young sons, Finch and Denham. If you would like to donate to a Go Fund Me campaign set up by a family friend, you can do so by clicking here.