Tag Archives: suicide

A broken tree bears fruit: Christians tackling suicide

Warren and Vann“In God’s garden of grace, even a broken tree bears fruit,” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said. Indeed. Rick and his wife Kay are collaborating with a variety of organizations, including the Catholic Diocese of Orange, to begin a serious ministry to those plagued with mental illness. The Garden tended to by God and His Church recognizes the presence of Mercy among broken branches and exposed roots. Read about the initiative here.

Rick and Kay lost their son to suicide. And is an alarming number of people who take their lives, even in the clergy. In 2013, a newly ordained priest in the Harrisburg Diocese took his life after years of darkness that he could not bear. In the last a few years I have been sad over hearing of priests facing death by their own hands. The Christian response is not to run away from death by suicide but to face it squarely in the face. The question of suicide has to be discussed and worked on in broader Christian community as a matter of faith and human ecology. To absent from this widespread darkness is tantamount to pastoral negligence.

The collaboration of the three sponsors is linked in this website: Mental health and the Church.

The goal of the Saddleback Church, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County and the Diocese of Orange is to engage in a sustained campaign to tackle mental health issues in their faith programs and from the pulpits in America. Recently, a gathering worked on topics like “Christianity and Depression,” “How to Launch a Support Group and Counseling Ministry in your Church,” “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time” and “Food and The Body: Three Steps to Healing Eating Disorders through Community.”

Erika I. Richie of the O.C. Register said, “Warren and Vann say they not only want to help those suffering, they want to empower church leaders. The goal is to equip pastors and churches nationwide in ways that will bring professional help and relief for those tortured by mental illness.”

The Catholic Information Service of the Knights of Columbus have a booklet, “Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Response” which I would thrown in the mix of resources available.

The Door-to-door death opens wider

“I do not want to live on as a shadow of myself” and “I also don’t want to be sent off to a nursing home … If I have to decide myself, please abide by my wish” or “How much longer will my life be liveable in dignity?”

Such are the thoughts of a Catholic priest and theologian, Father Hans Kung, now 85. If you don’t remember the protagonist here, let me remind you. Father Kung is famous for his relentless agitation for ecclesial reform, even it may be said reduction. With all the reforms and renewal happening following the Second Vatican Council, where this Swiss priest theologian was an adviser/expert arguing for a decentralized church authority, a married priesthood and contraception and abortion etc. The Church did not adopt these ideas. Since 1960, Kung has been a professor at Tubingen but he taught there without a license to teach Catholic theology since 1979. But as John Paul said, he didn’t remove Kung’s baptism. It was Kung, as you may remember, got the young theologian named Joseph Ratzinger his first job teaching. Soon after being elected the Roman Pontiff, Pope Benedict invited Father Kung to dinner.

A friend posted a disturbing story of Kung thinking about ending his life. I am shocked that a Catholic priest would consider such. I can’t help but be sad for Kung and others who believe suicide is a dignified way to go to the next life. Here is the article that talks about Father Kung’s consideration of suicide.

This a long way of saying that the issues of euthanasia and the people considering this way of living and ultimately dying.

The Telegraph’s writer Tim Stanley wrote about a distressing embrace of euthanasia in an article “Door-to-door death units: Belgium and Holland abandon humanity as they embrace euthanasia.”

Stanley’s article is worth reading in detail and is provide you some grist for the mill of prayer today. He paints an ever crisis of being human, and the beauty of living. Stanley many of the fears people face when considering suicide as a reasonable option. Though living is not easy for some people.

Despair is real; depression and addiction is a crisis of the separation from reality as it is given. There is a fundamental recognition of need to live with dignity in each person; there is a capacity in each to love and to be loved; to be in relationship with others and with God. That is, we are hardwired to live in community with more than just the self. But suicide rejects this dignity and become encounter with selfishness and hopelessness; it rejects the fullest sense of freedom.

We are now seeing a growing trend of people voting in favor of euthanasia. It is now legal in countries like Belgium, Switzerland , the Netherlands, Luxembourg and four states in the United States of America. Connecticut and Massachusetts are among the states who have already proposed making assisted suicide legal. The desire for acting in favor of death is being entertained more and more. We are now facing squarely the fruit of the philosophy of nihilism now so linked to secularism and its standard of judgement.

Teen suicide: how do we cope?

The tragic death of Michael Blosil, 18, son of Marie Osmond, the other day brings light to the sad reality of teen suicide. Noted by friends and family of the Osmonds, Michael had been battling the demons of depression.

The seriousness of the problem is seen in the statistics by the National Conference of State Legislatures:
19.3 percent of high school students have seriously considered killing themselves.
14.5 percent of high school students made actual plans for committing suicide.
900,000 youth planed their suicides during a major depression episode.
The Center for Disease Control said that suicide is the third leading cause of teen deaths between the ages of 15 and 24 behind accidents and homicide. And it is the fourth leading cause of children age 10-14.

For those interested in the subject, the Catholic Information Service published a booklet on suicide, Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice. You can also listen to the booklet as a download.
This booklet provides a helpful look into defining suicide and it helps the reader to identify the signs while giving some helpful resources.
May the saints lead Michael into paradise.

Coping with a Suicide: 2 events bring to mind the need for love

A friend of mine in Utah asked for prayers for the soul of a young woman, wife, and mother of 2, who took her own life after struggling with depression. Today, Bishop Walsh mentioned the New York University student who leaped to his death on Tuesday. Billie and Andrew are in need of prayers.

The NYU student’s mom started a blog to her process her unconsolable grief.
Pray for this tragedy to stop. Bring your petition to the BVM so that she can assist those considering such a deed, the grace to change their mind.
A handy resource may be of assistance for those who want to help people understand suicide:

Suicide and Catholic help: Being aware of the signs in order to help

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 cis@kofc.org.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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