April 14, 2010

Orthodox Nun Stops Suicide Surge in Russian Village

Nun Stops Suicide Surge in a Village of the Amur Region

Moscow, 14 April 2010, Interfax - An Orthodox nun managed to stop a suicide surge among the residents of Otvazhnoye village of the Amur Region, Russia.

From the 1970s, the whole families of the village have committed suicides. People willingly killed themselves almost every month. This trend was turned around only when the former agriculturist Galina Neuman had taken monastic vows and established a parish, reports Wednesday a Far Eastern issue of Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Galina Neuman, now Mother Domnikia, came to live in the village about 40 years ago. After her elder son had hanged himself, she began regularly attending the church and decided to establish a parish in place of the dilapidated state farm office. She spent the whole amount of her retirement pension to renovate the building. However, her initiative found no support with her hometown who used to insult her and even spit her in the face.

After the parish was opened, people brought their whole families to take baptism. Those who used to spit the nun in the face were the first to ask for baptism. The residents of the village ceased to kill themselves on their own free will. Only one man committed suicide during the last three years, because he could not stand the agony of cancer.

The original Russian article here also contains the following detail:

Last February a tired traveler strolled into the village parish. He fell before the icons on his knees, prayed for a long time, then asked the nun to give him some water; and as if confessing told his story:

"I am from the next village. I was walking to the rails of the Trans-Siberian Railroad to lay down under a train [to commit suicide], when I saw an Orthodox Cross appear to me. [And I thought] 'my own legs brought me here. Now I will go back, I have two children at home....'

Mother Domnikia embraced him and, for the first time since the funeral of her son, the nun started to weep aloud, remembering those dozens of villagers who voluntarily were snuffed out of life, while she was struggling for years for state farm harvests (crops).

And now Mother Domnikia on her own is struggling with the village moonshiners, who are selling death and tears. [The suicides are primarily alcohol related].

"I visit their houses, and ask, try to appeal, and try to reach their conscience. I pray for them as they don't know what they do. Money won't bring them happiness," Mother Domnikia believes."