September is Suicide Prevention Month
A rapid increase in suicide in our time is cause for alarm among pastoral workers and, of course, family members and other survivors of this tragedy. The depths of depression can rob a person of his or her desire to live. Over 90% of all deaths by suicide are a result of depression, implying a person is not in their “right” mind and therefore not capable of making a rational and moral decision. With the knowledge now available about suicide, about what precipitates the act itself and also the act’s tragic effect on survivors, the church takes a much more compassionate stance on this issue than it has in the past.
The following resources can assist you in increasing awareness and providing pastoral care.
Helpful Pastoral Tools:
- The section on suicide from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (a program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago)
Mental Health Ministries
For more resources, visit the National Catholic Partnership on Disability.
Litanies and Prayers for Suicide Prevention
Prayer litany for Hope
God our Creator, you give breath to each person you made.
You treasure the gifts of each unique person. But when life becomes a burden rather than a gift, God of life, hold us.
When darkness strangles the will to live, when days become endless nights, God of light, shine on us.
When no one seems to understand, when we walk and wait alone, God of love, embrace us with your presence.
Where there is despair, bring hope; where there is shame, give value and worth; where there is emptiness, bring fulfillment; where there is suffering in mind and body, bring healing.
God of hope, hear our prayer for life.
Prayer Litany for Suicide Prevention
God, we celebrate the gift of life for each person. We commit to nurturing the wellbeing of each person here. We know for some, life is a burden filled with suffering. Help us to talk about our fears, our anger, and our despair with someone we trust.
We celebrate that life has purpose and meaning. For some, purpose and meaning are like dry bones, dead and lifeless.
Remind us that You know us by name. You know our place and purpose in this world. We are created to live in community. Some feel alone, unloved and disconnected.
Give us courage to reach out with love to someone who needs us. May we be Your presence with them. Teach us to be gentle and non-judgmental.
We remember those who ended their life before it was time.
Comfort those who grieve and bring healing.
Blessing (Each of us longs to be blessed. This blessing brings comfort and the strong reassurance to not be afraid when life is so uncertain.)
God go before you to lead you,
God go behind you to protect you,
God go beneath you to support you,
God go beside you to befriend you.
Do not be afraid.
May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid.
Prayer for someone contemplating suicide (Suggestion: Keep sentences short and simple. Their minds may be troubled and confused. Perhaps they will remember one thought from the prayer.)
God of compassion, you know and love (Name). Walk with her/him during this dark time. Be her/his friend. Clear the confusion in her/his mind. Show her/him your love and concern. Give her/him strength to live. Amen.
Note: Except for the blessing, all of the above were written by Cindy Holtrop, Secretary, Pathways to Promise