UPDATE 07/10/2009: A London Telegraph story today features an interview with the Rt Rev Bernard Longley, who explains that “church teaching on suicide had not changed but its understanding of mental health had altered.”
“Suicide is a grave sin, but an individual must be mentally healthy to be fully aware that what they are doing is a sin. When a person commits suicide, they are generally so clouded by confusion and despair as to be no longer in full control of their mental faculties. God does not condemn anyone not fully aware of what they are doing: His mercy is without end.”
Bishop Longley said the families and friends of people who committed suicide suffered “acutely” and suicide should never be romanticised or encouraged.
But he said attempting suicide was “typically” the act of a desperate person and it should be greeted with compassion rather than with blame.
Original Post 07/09/2009: The Bishops’ Conferences of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales are working together this year during the annual “Day for Life” observance to take an in-depth look at the church’s point of view about suicide. According to a press release,
Day for Life — the day in the Church’s year dedicated to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death — will this year focus on the theme of suicide. The main emphasis of Day for Life in 2009 will be on the pastoral dimensions of this difficult and sensitive subject.
It will highlight why the Church believes that every life is worth living and look at the reasons why people contemplate suicide, including acute mental illness and the possible spiritual factors involved. It will also point towards the support that the professional services can bring and hopefully help to reduce the stigma too often associated with mental illness and depression.
The online coverage of the topic includes a blog section featuring posts from “people whose lives have been touched by suicide and mental illness.”
[Editor’s note: Does anyone know if a similar observance is happening (or has happened) in North America? Please comment below.]
[The abridged URL for this post is http://tinyurl.com/DayForLife .]