SCRANTON – Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for nearly 46,000 deaths in 2020. This is about one death every 11 minutes.
In observance of Suicide Awareness Month in September, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will celebrate a Mass for Suicide Healing and Remembrance on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. All are welcome.
The Mass will serve to remember loved ones lost to suicide and to promote healing for those who grieve their passing. During the Mass, those attending will be invited to bring forward a flower to the altar in remembrance of those lost.
“This ritual is a way for all of us to acknowledge and remember those who have died by suicide and to symbolize our commending them to God’s love, mercy, and care,” Jennifer Housel, Executive Director for the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, said.
Suicide affects all ages. In 2020, suicide was among the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10-64. Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and 25-34.
“This Mass is an important opportunity for our Church to offer particular comfort and healing for those who are grieving a loved one who has died by suicide. It is also important to have this Mass in order to reduce the stigma that still surrounds suicide and to increase awareness,” Housel added. “Too often in my years of ministry I have encountered both Catholics and non-Catholics who do not know the Church’s current teaching about suicide.”
Suicide and suicide attempts affect the health and well-being of friends, loved ones, co-workers, and the community. When people die by suicide, their surviving family and friends may experience shock, anger, guilt, symptoms of depression or anxiety and may even experience thoughts of suicide themselves.
“Suicide is a tragic reality in the lives of our faithful and in our surrounding communities. Rather than remaining silent, it is important that we open our hearts and listen to the stories people want to tell, may need to tell, about the loved one they are grieving. Talking about suicide helps to reduce stigma and can allow the opportunity to share resources that may be helpful,” Housel explained.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, states the following, “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.” (CCC 2283).
Suicide is preventable. All people are encouraged to recognize the warning signs and identify ways to talk to someone who may be at risk.
Mental Health is of great concern not only for our faithful but also for those in our communities who we are called to serve. Numerous resources are available to everyone, no matter their circumstances.
First, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling or texting “988.” The Lifeline is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
In addition, the Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line is also available to connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text. The number is 1-800-273-8255, Press 1.
The Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers website, located at catholicmhm.org, allows people to view resources by topic, including resources related to suicide.
The Diocese of Scranton’s Mass for Suicide Healing & Remembrance will be broadcast by CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and livestream on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.
For more information on the Mass, visit dioceseofscranton.org or call (570) 207-2213.