August 13, 2014

The Suicide Phenomenon

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Suicide or self-murder is an ancient phenomenon, which is often accompanied by the phrase "desperate step", declaring it an act of despair, that is, a lack of rationality and hope. Suicide is essentially a lack of meaning for life, an identification of life with small goals, with economic goods, and shows an aimless life.

Recently the number of suicides has increased, which is why several articles have been written analyzing this phenomenon. In the newspaper To Vima (7/8/2012) Joanna Soufleris addressed this issue by answering the question: "Why so many suicides?" She found that: "Suicides have become a daily occurrence in the Greek crisis."

Among other things she cites the view of psychiatrist Kyriakos Katsadimos that "in 2008, when the beginning of the world economic crisis began, the barrier of one suicide a day was overcome," meaning in Greece. "Thus our estimates today show that there are 2-3 suicides a day." 

Yet suicide does not only come from the economic crisis, because according to the psychologist and psychotherapist Myrto Nielsen "a person who commits suicide refuses the gift of life, and states emphatically their belief that their life has no worth. This is a premise of ultimate failure." Hence, that which motivates the suicide to hurt themselves is "loneliness", "the feeling that they do not belong somewhere".

The Church believes that life is a gift from God to man and therefore man cannot discard it, rather God has exclusivity to it. It is a great sin which therefore shows that a person is distancing themselves from God, they do not sense Him to be their Father and they live far from the Church, which they should sense as their mother and their true family. Therefore, those who move towards suicide either do not believe in God, or they are ill and have a confused mind.

The psychiatrist Kyriakos Katsadimos, in the same publication, says: "In olden times the attitude of priests towards the families of those who committed suicide were condemning. Today we see a huge change, which is confirmed in priestly conferences in which I have participated. Indeed, I feel the need to give a 'bravo' to the Church for its work in supporting those who want to commit suicide. There are not a small amount of people who at some point wanted to commit suicide that have come to me through the Church. Often they are people who have gone to confession and there they have expressed a desire to put an end to their lives. At the initiative of the Church we see these trends and they receive our own care along with the support provided to them there."

Finally, we must look at what the Church offers not only when it comes to food and financial support, but also in psychology, especially in the field of spirituality. The Church is a spiritual hospital that gives meaning to human life.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Τό φαινόμενο τών αυτοκτονιών", July 2012. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.