A local farmer committed suicide recently and the news has caused me to consider the cultural shift in the American (Catholic) Church’s response to suicide.
I’ve heard (no references) that suicide was once taught to be a mortal sin, not just because it violates the Fifth Commandment, but also to deter others from considering it as an escape to suffering. I was told suicide occurred so much, somebody in the Church’s hierarchy deemed it a mortal sin to deter others from considering it (fear of hell is one good way to stop terrible actions).
Now, we’re very aware Catholics and many others no longer fear or maybe even don’t believe in hell. None of us want to hear someone who committed suicide is doomed to hell because the thought causes anguish for the living family and friends. We promote celebrations remembering a person’s life to combat the sorrow and pain of death and are often angered when one refers to the suicidal as going to hell.
What are your thoughts? I see the validity of both sides regarding suicide and hell: alleviating continued suffering for the living vs deterrent for the suicidal.