Cathecism and Suicide- Please clarify my understanding

I read the Cathecism about suicide and am unsure my understanding is correct. My understanding was that if you are so depressed that you take your own life, there is still cahnce to be forgiven and to go to heaven/purgatory? Is this correct?

The issue is whether a person is mentally healthy enough to make a proper choice. A mentally ill person is often not morally responsible for some of their actions as their mental disability may prevent their conscience or impulse control from working properly. For example, a schizophrenic who hallucinates and hears voices is not morally culpable if their altered perception of reality has them commit a morally evil act. The person might, in fact, believe that what they are doing is morally right.

When it comes to suicide, there are many reasons why people kill themselves. The question moral theologians have is: Does the act of suicide prove a person is not mentally competent?

The answer is difficult to discern. I think that in some cases of suicide, the person was so mentally disturbed or their cognitive functions so seriously deficient (even if it would only have been temporary) that they may not be morally culpable for an act of suicide or attempted suicide.

On the other hand, there are people out, particularly in certain cultures like Japan, where suicide is not considered shameful. Such people often consider suicide as a means to regain some level of personal or family honor. In those cases, suicide is not done due to some mental or cognitive deficit, but rather with a cool head and a specific goal in mind.

Now the question of whether any dying person, suicide or not has some brief moment to repent when they know death is either certain and imminent or immediately after death and before the Particular Judgment, I cannot say.

I agree completely with this. I suffer from a disorder known as borderline personality disorder which sometimes causes a condition known as psychosis. If I were to commit suicide during a period of psychosis, I seriously doubt that God would hold me responsible for that sin because of the fact that psychosis generally alters one’s perception of reality. Here is the dictionary definition of psychosis:

psychosis play_w2(“P0636600”) (s Plural psychoses (s A mental state caused by psychiatric or organic illness, characterized by a loss of contact with reality and an inability to think rationally. A psychotic person often behaves inappropriately and is incapable of normal social functioning.

Research has consistently shown a strong link between suicide and depression, with 90% of the people who die by suicide having an existing mental illness or substance abuse problem at the time of their death. The following pages provide general information about depression, other mental illnesses, and how they are connected.

At least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illnesses – such as major depression, bipolar depression, or some other depressive illness, including:
Alcohol or drug abuse, particularly when combined with depression
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or some other anxiety disorder
Bulimia or anorexia nervousa
Personality disorders especially borderline or antisocial

Suicide is an irrational act. The Church, in Her wisdom, recognizes that many factors can play a role in diminishing or completely eliminating culpability. Since research and study show that the majority of suicides are the end result of long and agonizing mental disorders, one can comfortably presume God is merciful with these poor souls.

I always worry, when I see this sort of thread, that the person posting might be considering something, probably because I’ve considered it pretty often myself.

There was a time when the church wouldn’t allow a mass or internment in sacred ground for a suicide, and who knows-- maybe it had the effect of keeping people from doing something rash. But funerals and the like are more for the living than the dead-- they don’t effect the soul of the deceased.

I know for a fact that depression greatly dimishes the rational capacity.

I want to reassure anyone who stumbles on this thread that life is worth living and things CAN change for the better, no matter how impossible that seems. There is help out there, but you have to ask for it. Friends and family are too prone to wishful thinking, too late to wake up to a very real, grave danger. Don’t take their silence for consent, don’t assume God’s forgiveness is the same as permission.

Actually, in the broadest terms, the understanding is that practically anybody may be in heaven or purgatory and not destined for hell, even Judas or Hitler. Some theologians say it’s possible that no one is even in hell. That being said, we should still strive our best to get into heaven.

But, regarding suicide, it would depend entirely on how affected the person’s mentality is. I don’t think depression is a blank cheque for suicide, unless if you have very severe mental illness. Even then, if you have enough mental faculties to simply get help, and if you have the mental faculties to understand how wrong suicide is, then you are still culpable.

Depression is something that everybody sane goes through. Everyone gets sad at one time or another, but it doesn’t give a universal justification for suicide.

And I think that even with most mental illness, the sick still do have consciences, morals, ethics, etc.

I am thinking this because my family works in healthcare, and I get to be exposed to those who are mentally-ill. Mental illness doesn’t turn one into a robot where they do whatever their mental illness programmes them to do – they still have moral and ethical responsibilities.

There are, of course, exceptions, where the person totally isn’t in his working mind. My mom has a dementia patient in very advanced stages of Alzheimer’s. He began asking us to kill him and things like that, but understand, he is in the last stages of it. His mind is truly messed-up. After he begs us to kill him, he says, “If you kill me, I’ll kill you too.” So, there isn’t any lucidity at all. He hallucinates; he constantly thinks he’s at work and he’s always talking about getting his work done. He yells when you ask him to do anything, even to just sit down or shut the door when he’s in the bathroom. This is nothing like what he was before: his family says he never, ever yelled. We’ve had him as a patient for several years, and only a few months ago did he really turn bad like that. He was always quiet and benign before that. He actually threw a glass of water at me, spat food at my mom and threatened to urinate on me.

But, most people with mental illness do are not like that case. They still have consciences, they still have working minds. Understand that there are degrees of difference there. I don’t think depression in most cases qualifies.

If one is considering suicide and there still is a part of that person that compels him or her to ask moral questions about suicide, then he or she clearly do has a conscience, and the person still has the moral responsibility to get through that.

So to break it down:
*]A chance to be saved? Sure. There’s always a chance. For all we know, even the worst people in history might not be in hell. But note those words: chance, might, etc. Those are extreme uncertainties. While it is possible for hell to be empty of souls, it is not probable.
*]Mental illness doesn’t justify it. Generally, the mentally sick still have consciences.

Its off topic to discuss who may or may not be in Hell but I want to say I disagree with you. Jesus made it pretty clear that there are many in Hell.

Sure, I agree with you. Hell is probably filled to the brim. But, even conservative priests often say that it’s possible that there’s nobody is in there. According to them, it’s possible; but I am sure it isn’t probable.

The Catechism does not speak of justification for suicide and nor should we. Something is either objectively wrong or it is not. What the Church speaks to is the issue of CULPABILITY. In this case, the Church, in Her wisdom, understands that mental illness DOES minimize, if not eliminate, culpability.

I’m glad you’re not in charge.:rolleyes:

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

I don’t think you viewed it with proper context. Perhaps I did not choose the right word, i.e., justify vs culpability, but I think the meaning of what I said was clear from the context. I didn’t say that suicide is ever okay, but my point was that mental illness is not a blank cheque.

Get some manners, please.

I will rely on the research of qualified mental health professionals and the Church Herself and I hope others who struggle with the issue of suicide do as well.

For some reason, on these forums, folks like to feel they have the right to discern culpability for mortal sin. Trust in the mercy of God and the teachings of the Church.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

Notice it says “can” and not something like “automatically”. That’s all I took Jesu as saying.

That’s all well and fine and I don’t doubt any of that, but that doesn’t justify your tone.

An apology would be nice.

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