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Found 1 result

  1. prisonchaplain

    People Still ”Commit Suicide”

    The article below is one I am considering posting on a professional social media venue. However, it is a sensitive subject, so I thought I would vet it here first. Thanks buddies! Kevin Caruso, of Suicide.org, says that since suicide is not a crime we must stop saying that people “commit suicide.” (http://www.suicide.org/stop-saying-committed-suicide.html) Is he right? What does it mean to say that suicide is not a crime? In the United States, suicide is not illegal. So, as a civil matter, Caruso is right. However, suicide is broadly considered sinful—a spiritual crime. Both Catholicism and Protestantism (especially more conservative denominations) call suicide “mortal sin,” or even “self-murder.” Islam and Judaism generally concur. Dharmic traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) also consider suicide a negative and unacceptable act. Caruso dismisses all such considerations, and insists that, “Suicide is not sin!” (http://www.suicide.org/suicide-is-not-a-sin.html) Instead of saying one commits suicide, Caruso prefers “death by suicide." He says the former term must be expunged from our vocabulary, because it is insensitive and stigmatizing. No and yes. It is not insensitive to state what a person did. It may be disheartening and sad, but not insensitive. Is it not more thoughtless to remove the deceased’s sovereignty and volition, by making it seem that suicide is somehow visited upon them? On the other hand committing suicide brings stigma. They violate spiritual tenants, and they deprive loved ones of spouse, child, parent, or even lover. “Well, they must have been crazy, so it’s not their fault.” There is a measure of truth in the statement. 30-70% of suicide completions involve depression or bipolar disorder. Of course, this means that 30-70% do not. Even amongst those who suffer from mental illness, we wonder if disease forces them to kill themselves. How much of the act is uncontrollable and how much is choice? Nobody wants survivors to experience unwarranted guilt. Likewise, broad brush condemnations and shaming have no place in suicide-survivor counseling. Jesus warned us not to judge, and we do well to leave the assessing of departed souls to God. Still, should we not discourage suicide attempts? Alcoholics suffer from an organic predisposition to their addiction. Nevertheless, we condemn alcohol abuse, because we know it leads to impaired driving and to verbal, mental and physical aggression. Likewise, even though “committing suicide” is not a felony, we must continue to say that it is wrong, bad, immoral, and that it hurts survivors. The way to love sinners is not by dismissing the sinfulness of what they do. Instead, we love them for who they are. Then we encourage them away from self-harm and towards the better expression of their God-given potential.