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Spread Hope, Help Save a Life This September

September 7, 2021

From the Office for Social Ministry

Beginning this month, many advocacy groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) are asking for your support to help raise awareness and hope for those suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities (NCPD) also reminds us that “good pastoral practice demands that the family members and other survivors of suicide be treated with the utmost compassion and care.”

Suicide is often stigmatized as dark and “taboo”, but is nevertheless, an important subject that needs to be brought to the light. As the 2nd leading cause of death in the nation for young people ages 10-24, we must all do our part as a faith community to address the underlying issues that cause this alarming statistic. During this pandemic, many people are experiencing mental health issues or trouble coping with COVID-19 challenges and other life traumas; and it is not uncommon for some to turn to a parish priest for help. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)  affirms that faith communities are a natural and appropriate setting to assist in suicide prevention. Spiritual beliefs and practices tend to increase a sense of hope and purpose in people’s lives, so we encourage all parishes to pitch in by providing more opportunities to develop positive relationships and offer support during difficult times. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2283): “We should not despair the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”

When a failed attempt occurs, the National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities (NCPD)recommends “great care and love can be offered by family, friends, and professionals to assure the person is loved and can find help in coping with the source of their pain.” Other recourses can be found on the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers website, which has produced two important resources by Ave Maria Press:

  • Responding to Suicide: A Pastoral Handbook for Catholic Leaders
  • When a Loved One Dies by Suicide: Comfort, Hope and Healing for Grieving Catholics

Both books may be purchased online at this link.

Let’s all do our part to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to the struggles of those around us. Maybe it’s that one interaction with a person in need that could just save a life. For more information or to seek help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.