This weekend, the bishops of Ireland ask us all to join with them and with the church across the UK in a special prayer. Each year, the bishops dedicate this Sunday as a Day for Life and they propose a different but related them each year. This year the theme for our reflection and our prayer is the difficult topic of suicide.
I’d like to say at the outset that I don’t want to say anything that would heap more hurt on families or individuals for whom this subject is already too painful. On the contrary, maybe people can get some support and hope from knowing that the Church doesn’t want people to be alone in this pain. So our first challenge is to be sensitive and compassionate as a community and as Catholics.
The Bishops’ letter says that “attempting suicide is typically the act of a person who is desperate and it should be greeted with compassion rather than with blame”
God’s compassion for each of us urges us to understand, to forgive, to heal – just as God does with us.
Thankfully, it is becoming easier for people to talk about difficulties in life. We might have all kinds of reasons for giving out about the mass media but this is one area where the media can play a really valuable role. People can see and hear that it is possible, it is acceptable and it is good – to talk about even the most painful things and the most private things (This week’s Late Late leaves us in awe of some people’s courage and helps us see that the road of talk, hope and professional help is the way forward.]
So we urge people to have hope, to never feel that there’s something that can’t be talked about. And that’s a message that needs to be constantly reinforced.
It’s also worth reiterating that there is nothing that someone can’t bring to God, to his church, to his people, to his priests.
It also challenges all of us to be sensitive to others, to make time for people, for family, neighbours, work colleagues, all those with whom we are close. Our state and our wider community also needs to provide more and better services for mental health, and each of us needs to make time for the things that matter.
We also need to have a special care for families who are bereaved and for families who are caring for loved ones whose health is poor. And between them, that’s most of our families. Like so many things, the answer to the pain of suicide is in strengthening our bonds of love and care between one another. That’s what the Lord is asking us to do. We cannot do it without his good help. So let us pray for that.
Some web place to find out more and / or get help and advice:-
If you are concerned about someone with suicidal feelings,
phone the Samaritans or consult your GP.
Samaritans: 1850 60 90 90