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Arrow Question / Issue:

"What's the best way to help a friend who is suicidal?"

 

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The best way to try to help may depend upon the person's situation, the concrete circumstances & limitations they face, the cause, the person's mental state, etc. While I really couldn't tell you what to say or do for someone who is suicidal, perhaps you may want to consider various item(s) such as... [Note: Such 'life & death' situations can be very delicate and it can be hard to know the right thing(s) to do or say. Remember that items herein are not comprehensive, and that we make no guarantees regarding any item herein. It is possible some item(s) below could be detrimental to some person(s). It might be best to contact applicable professional(s) for assistance before proceeding.]

* Referring them to a suicide prevention hotline

* Referring them to a good priest

* Emphasizing that all things are passing – whatever is troubling to them now might seem insignificant in a week or moth or year...

* Reminding them that others have similar (or even more difficult) challenges, but that they have found positive ways to cope with their problems. Sometimes when we realize that people have problems worse than our own, it can make our burdens seem lighter

* Reminding them that God alone is the master of life and death

* Encouraging them to prayer and to place their trust in God – their loving Father

* Being there for them

* Praying for them yourself

* Reminding them that suicide is gravely sinful and will only add to their problems, not solve them

* Reminding them of the many people that care for them (including yourself)

* Distracting them from the problem with a lawful pleasure that makes them happy (e.g. a wholesome movie, a nice meal, a hobby, etc.), or with prayer (e.g. the Rosary), or some other suitable distraction

* Showing healthy concern for them

* Reminding that suicide is cowardly and does not solve their problem

* Reminding them that they have no right to take their life into their own hands

* Reminding them that those who attempt suicide risk an eternity of severe punishment (and that eternity never ends)

* Reminding them of the Fifth Commandment ("Thou shalt not kill")

* Looking for moral, helpful – and practical – ways to resolve whatever problems they may be encountering (e.g. finding a good doctor if it is a medical problem, finding appropriate companionship if it is a problem with loneliness, etc.)

Also...

* If the situation is due to a sin they have committed, could it be helpful to remind them that the Church can forgive any sin, no matter how grievous?

* If the situation is due to suffering, might it help to remind them that suffering can be meritorious? (For more on this topic, try here)

* If the situation is euthanasia related, might it help to remind them of Church teachings? (For more on this topic, try here)

* Since, IMHO, the devil seems to push suicide, might holy water be of assistance?

If you'd like some Catholic teachings regarding suicide, perhaps the following may be of some assistance...

"...as the truth plainly declares...suicide is a detestable and damnable wickedness" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Life, one's own and that of others, cannot be disposed of at will: it belongs to the Author of life." (Pope John Paul II)

"It is a mortal sin to destroy one's own life or commit suicide, as this act is called, and persons who willfully and knowingly commit such an act die in a state of mortal sin and are [traditionally] deprived of Christian burial. It is also wrong to expose one's self unnecessarily to the danger of death by rash or foolhardy feats of daring." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Moreover if to murder another is the greatest temporal injustice a man can commit against a neighbor, life being of all temporal blessings the greatest and most noble, suicide is a crime so much more enormous, as the charity which every one owes to himself, especially to his immortal soul is stricter, more noble and of a superior order to that which he owes to his neighbor." (Butler)

"And if anyone should be disturbed or become angry at God or at [his] brothers, or if by chance he persistently asks for medicines with a great desire to free the flesh which is soon to die and is the enemy of the soul [should remember:] All this comes from the evil one. [Such a brother] is totally caught up with the flesh and he does not seem to be one of the brothers, since he loves his body more than his soul." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"Do we justly execrate the deed of Judas, and does truth itself pronounce that by hanging himself he rather aggravated than expiated the guilt of that most iniquitous betrayal, since, by despairing of God's mercy in his sorrow that wrought death, he left to himself no place for a healing penitence? How much more ought he to abstain from laying violent hands on himself who has done nothing worthy of such a punishment! For Judas, when he killed himself, killed a wicked man; but he passed from this life chargeable not only with the death of Christ, but with his own: for though he killed himself on account of his crime, his killing himself was another crime." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"It is not without significance, that in no passage of the holy canonical books there can be found either divine precept or permission to take away our own life, whether for the sake of entering on the enjoyment of immortality, or of shunning, or ridding ourselves of anything whatever. Nay, the law, rightly interpreted, even prohibits suicide, where it says, 'Thou shalt not kill.' This is proved especially by the omission of the words 'thy neighbor,' which are inserted when false witness is forbidden: 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'... [H]ow much greater reason have we to understand that a man may not kill himself, since in the commandment,' Thou shalt not kill,' there is no limitation added nor any exception made in favor of any one, and least of all in favor of him on whom the command is laid!" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"But this we affirm, this we maintain, this we every way pronounce to be right, that no man ought to inflict on himself voluntary death, for this is to escape the ills of time by plunging into those of eternity; that no man ought to do so on account of another man's sins, for this were to escape a guilt which could not pollute him, by incurring great guilt of his own; that no man ought to do so on account of his own past sins, for he has all the more need of this life that these sins may be healed by repentance; that no man should put an end to this life to obtain that better life we look for after death, for those who die by their own hand have no better life after death." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Suicide is always as morally objectionable as murder. The Church's tradition has always rejected it as a gravely evil choice...[S]uicide, when viewed objectively, is a gravely immoral act. In fact, it involves the rejection of love of self and the renunciation of the obligation of justice and charity towards one's neighbor, towards the communities to which one belongs, and towards society as a whole. In its deepest reality, suicide represents a rejection of God's absolute sovereignty over life and death, as proclaimed in the prayer of the ancient sage of Israel: 'You have power over life and death; you lead men down to the gates of Hades and back again' (Wis. 16:13; cf. Tob. 13:2)." (Pope John Paul II)

"It is altogether unlawful to kill oneself, for three reasons. First, because everything naturally loves itself, the result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being, and resists corruptions so far as it can. Wherefore suicide is contrary to the inclination of nature, and to charity whereby every man should love himself. Hence suicide is always a mortal sin, as being contrary to the natural law and to charity. Secondly, because every part, as such, belongs to the whole. Now every man is part of the community, and so, as such, he belongs to the community. Hence by killing himself he injures the community, as the Philosopher declares (Ethica Nicomachea v,11). Thirdly, because life is God's gift to man, and is subject to His power, Who kills and makes to live. Hence whoever takes his own life, sins against God... For it belongs to God alone to pronounce sentence of death and life, according to Deuteronomy 32:39, 'I will kill and I will make to live.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

[Note: Various quotes above may have been taken from here or here.]

I hope the above will be of assistance.

May God bless you both.


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