There are sadly several times, as pastor, where I have journeyed with families where a person has taken their own life.
Each situation is different, and as can be imagined, always traumatic for those involved. So many questions, so much pain!
Over the past several years insights from psychology has helped change many attitudes with regards to suicide.
Catholic moral theology has developed in many positive ways. These developments and studies, as a result of psychology, have greatly helped in ministering to the bereaved of a suicide.
Of course, needless to say, we need to do everything possible to prevent suicide and to discourage it in any way possible.
We need to continue learning about possible warning signs that might indicate that a person is contemplating suicide.
I know that many families had done their best, their very best, to care for a vulnerable person. Yet, despite their best efforts, tragedies have happened.
There are also many situations where no warning signs were given, and families were left totally dumbfounded!
Of course, we need to keep doing our best to teach and help people to never see suicide as a good solution to problems and other challenges in life.
Many who have taken their own life suffer from a type of mental pain that actually greatly inhibits mature and full moral decision, and hence moral responsibility. This is more and more becoming clearer from very good evidence.
Sometimes it is totally unplanned, and something as a result of a momentarily lack of clear judgement! Sometimes there has been a gradual development that leads to tragedy.
Each situation is different!
This diminishing of moral responsibility also somewhat explains whey they resort to this, even when they know that they are deeply loved.
When I speak with bereaved families of those who have taken their own life, I ask them:
You would do anything to support N?
They answer, of course!!
I say the God I believe in, the God of Jesus Christ, loves them even more then you do!
This God who is love I am sure is doing the best that God can do for them. I believe that they are safe in God’s hands. I believe that they can receive your love, and send you love.
Thankfully, there is the beginning of support groups for families as they journey through this painful grief.
Grief is a journey, and if this affects your life, if you need to, please contact CatholicCare on 1800 899 855, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.