This tragic situation was the focus of the cover story on suicide in the recent Catholic Times. There are indications that society, according to the Catholic Times, is attempting to work together to discover the reasons for so many suicides, to spot the signs of helplessness, and to do something about it.
A seminary professor of ethics referred to statistics from last year showing that 16 out of one hundred persons with mental problems contemplated suicide and 3 actually made the attempt. The Catholic Church has consistently seen the evil of suicide but because of the mental state of the person it is rare that a funeral will be refused. The reasons for the large number of suicides generally given are depression, difficulties in life, pessimism, alienation, school bullying, but it would be unwise to try to select one as the primary cause, since in most cases multiple factors are in play complicating the problem.
Media also does not help matters by the way they tend to sensationalize their coverage of suicides, leading some vulnerable people to take on the same mindset, unwittingly preparing them for copycat suicides. The news, in attempting to present the suicide as factually as possible, often give reasons for the suicide which is no help to those who are looking to overcome their difficulties. For a Catholic, the remedy would be their faith and a strong spiritual life that sees adversity as a part of life, giving them the strength to overcome the adversity with God's grace.
Families of those who kill themselves, it must not be forgotten, are deeply hurt by the tragedy. This is also an area of concern for all those who are working to prevent suicides. In his article, the professor reminds the Church of the important work that needs to be done to prevent these deaths. This will require a great deal of love on the part of the diocese and parishes to help those with financial, emotional and psychological problems. Dioceses and parishes will have to have a safety net for those that need it. It will also require more targeted education of those who will work in this area in order to build a network of talented counselors to provide the help when needed. And at the same time to contribute in changing the values of our society that all too often are a breeding ground for alienation and despair.