Distressed man with suicide thoughts

I am currently an exchange student in Japan. A couple of weeks ago, on Christ the King, a man suddenly contacted me after Sunday Mass and asked me to do something together, like eating dinner, me visiting his home or going to Tokyo together. I immediately realized there was some problem with this guy (some kind of mental disorder), but since the gospel of that Sunday was the one about “whatever you have done to the least of these who are my brothers, you have done for me”, I supposed I couldn’t just ignore him. So I talked with him for a long time after Mass, and we went together to a burger’s shop.

The next Sunday he wanted me to visit his home, and asked me to come directly after Mass instead of helping with the big cleaning of the church which otherwise everyone else helped with. This guy is 43 years old but lives with his parents since he doesn’t have any work and didn’t finish school. His dad apparently just lies on the floor all day reading the newspaper or something, while his mom is out somewhere. I tried to take the opportunite to teach him about the Christian faith, but since I am not that good at Japanese yet, it’s not very easy to conversate. He asks about the best method to make new friends and how to make sure you go to heaven after you die, and is very eager to know when I can meet him next time. I started to feel quite uneasy about this.

The Sunday after that I sang with the choir in the Christmas consert after Mass, and after that there was a small assembly for just the choir members. However, this guy didn’t want to part even though I said good bye to him after the consert, and went uninvited to the choir members’ assembly. Because of this, the other choir members obviously noticed that there was some problem with this guy. So I asked the priest what to do about it, who have also had some contact with this man. The priest gave me the advice not to meet this man anymore, since he need some professional help which either he nor me can provide. This made me feel very relieved.

Last Sunday, I tried to explain to this man that we couldn’t meet anymore outside of church. When he understood this, he said to me that he has thought about committing suicide. As a first step, he smokes all the time in order to die quickly. I tried to explain that you definitely can’t go to heaven if you commit suicide, and it made him dissapointed to hear that “that’s what they teach in your country, too”.

The next time I see him, I will give him the phone number to the mental health care, but he says he has already been in contact with them and that they only let him speak to them for five minutes, whereas the priest lets him speak for an hour.

What can I do, really? Is it my responsibility to make this guy happy? How can I harshly turn him down when I know that he might commit suicide if he continues to feel that nobody wants to be with him? And how are any of us supposed to be able to celebrate a happy Christmas, knowing that there are this kind of desperately unhappy persons in our neighbourhood?

In answer to your question it isn’t your “responsibility to make him happy”. We are responsible for our own happiness. The mistake that’s often made is that people expect others to make them happy. It happens a lot in marriages, for instance. He has tried to make you responsible…which is understandable as he isn’t managing his own life well.

His situation is desperate enough that he may drag you down in your attempts to do what you cannot…and you must respect your priest’s advice.

If you see him of course be courteous, but as your priest said, he needs professional help. You have his word that he hasn’t received tthe time or help. Perhaps as your priest if anything has been done to direct him to suitable care, but not consult the man himself who may be prepared to downplay the possibilities for help as he sees you as a prop at this stage…but that’s not going to work in his state. It will only confuse and wear you out.

It all sounds very painful for you, and complicated…but you are not responsible for his choices and you mustn’t be manipilated by his talk of suicide, it isn’t helpful to either of you if he finds he cab use that with you.

Your responsibility is primarily to pray for him now that your priest has advised…and remember, no matter what, that his choices are his choice, not your fault or your responsibility.


Adding my prayers for you, and for this man to receive the help he so desperately needs.

That IS very sad. I think the best thing any of us can do is pray, pray, pray. Ask the Lord to help him. There is only so much one person can do for another. Yes, we all would like to help each individual who is hurting, and we try as best we can. But, we cannot “live” another person’s life. I will pray for this man and that God gives you peace of heart/mind for your kind soul.


Ahlman, I am praying for this situation.

Thank you, everyone who are praying. I consulted the priest once more yesterday, and it seems like the best thing to do is to not completely ignore this man but be kind and courteous to him, but at the same time not spoil him with attention. Since it seems hard at the time for him to be able to make any friends by his own or get a work due to the way he is, hopefully we can at least make him feel at home at church and possibly convince him to try to get a hobby like reading books, listening to music, taking walks or anything.

Let us this Christmas not just pray for this man but for everyone who are leading lonely lives and are starting to run out of hope.

Still praying!

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