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How can we as Church do better on suicide?

I was speaking recently to a young woman whose friend had taken her own life. The friend had always been one of those girls with the biggest smile. But one fall she started acting depressed and within a few months the young girl had attempted suicide multiple times, finally succeeding. The family would tell people that their daughter got sick and died, not mentioning the type of sickness.

Back when I was in high school, a friend was hospitalized and put on a 72-hour suicide watch. We had seen him a little off but I couldn’t comprehend how things had gotten that serious. Suicide had always seemed to me like something you read about in books, but not something that might affect me personally.

In the Church, we don’t always talk about suicide and mental health in the best way. Until recently, people who took their own lives were denied a Catholic funeral because suicide (as the taking of a life) is grave matter. But what that old prohibition missed was the degree of freedom in most suicides, or really, the lack thereof.

Depression is a true illness. The majority of people who attempt suicide are suffering from depression, and suicide can be thought of as a fatal effect of that illness. The patient is not making a rational choice but is acting under a compulsion, with little more free will than we have over our reflexes.

Read more at Aleteia. 

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