By Dick Kunnert
Yeshua Board Member/Master Facilitator
September slipped past me as Suicide Prevention Month, but the issue is just too critical to put off until that month rolls around in another year. I’m compelled to comment on the issue of suicide prevention from a Catholic Christian perspective -- particularly as it relates to youth, where suicide is epidemic.
When we look at the phenomenon, the problem emanates from two classic sources: nature and nurture.
In the case of suicides emanating from nature, we are dealing with illnesses transmitted through our DNA. The person is dealing with something they either inherited or which came about as a genetic mutation. Certainly the presence of serious mental illness doesn’t sentence the person to suicide, but inclination toward suicide is something many people, young and old, with serious mental illness need to address.
Medication and the development of a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) can be critical in maintaining a healthy attitude when fighting off feelings of depression and questions of self-worth. But suicides do occur with these folks. While medication and treatment help, it will happen on occasion.
The second source of suicide is tied to nurturance. The tragedy here is that the human organism does not suffer from an organic illness but acquires one nevertheless through life’s negative experiences. These phenomena are especially tragic because under another set of social circumstances they could have been averted.
And it is here where we Christians have an opportunity to reduce suicide. After all, our mission is to love God and one another. That there are so many people young and old who feel alone and unloved is something we can address. So, for example, we can:
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they are loved.
- Reduce the number of people who have never heard they have worth.
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they have something to contribute to the society around them.
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they matter to God.
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they are made to image a likeness of God.
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they are unconditionally loved by God.
- Reduce the number of people who have never been told they are not an accident and they have God-given gifts to develop and share.
- Reduce the number of people who have never heard that health and happiness are tied to serving and sharing ourselves with others, no matter who they are.
Everyone should matter
Scripture and Catholic teaching give meaning to life, but we need to draw it out and preach and talk about it.
Each and every one of us should matter.
If we commit ourselves to be a “People of God,” we will commit ourselves to a healthy and happier life where we seriously reduce anyone’s desire to hurt themselves.
We could do this in all our Christian communities … and we should.