Yesterday there was a story that caught my attention at the Catholic News Service (CNS) site: “Father’s suicide attempt leads Catholic family to help others.” The odd thing for me is that yesterday I put out in the parish vestibule a booklet on suicide (see below) thinking it might be helpful to some of the parishioners because the topic seems timely and since a young man accidentally committed suicide last year here.

Facing our own human frailty and that of others confronts us daily. Few escape serious impact of personal issues which belong to us, or of those of others, especially if you are pastoral care worker, teacher, nurse, doctor, priest, etc. Mental illness, the various forms of depression, emotional issues, un-processed feelings and the like all impact our lives in ways that may or may not be known to us. Certainly, some people attempt suicide to get attention, others involuntarily commit suicide while still others actually intend to do that desperate act. My first experience of suicide was during my high school years when a teacher of mine committed suicide. Over the years I’ve known of others –through pastoral engagements– who wanted out of life and others who were playing a game and one-thing-led-to-another. The fact is, suicide is a reality in our lives and we have to deal with it sensitively and competently.
When I was at the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus I edited what I think is a helpful booklet to assist students, parents, clergy, pastoral care workers, teachers, really anyone interested in helping another understand the reality of taking one’s life and how to be attentive to suicidal signs. It is not enough to parrot the Church’s teaching and point someone to the necessary resources; you have to act like Christ and be knowledgeable enough to respond humanely and spiritually. Professionals have their work to do and friends, family and other friendly people have theirs.
Read “Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice.” You can order a hard copy by sending an email to