This has been bothering me because someone passed away recently and we are not sure if it was accidental or suicide. What is the Catholic belief about this?
Straight from the Catechism (the parts that I bolded I think are especially important):
*2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.
2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.
2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.
**Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.
2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. ***
Don’t worry about it, but do pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased. Suicide is objectively a grave sin, but the Church now recognizes that many suicides are suffering from serious depression or other mental illnesses which may lessen their culpability. Pray for them and for God’s mercy.
We don’t know. Pray for them.
This is what I would say. Those who resort to suicide are often sick, and so have limited responsibility for their behavior that leads to killing themselves. We cannot judge them, but must pray for their soul.
I knew one young man who killed himself while I was in college. He lived long enough to repent and receive the sacrament of reconciliation. I can only hope that every such person, who break under the pressures of life, has an equivalent opportunity for repentance and reconciliation.
Thank you everyone for your response. No one is really sure yet what happened to this poor young man. He was dead for 5 or 6 days before anyone found him and the family is waiting for the toxicology report. Please pray for his soul and for the family and friends who are grieving his loss.