Suicide Among Youth Troubles the Church in France

Second Cause of Death Among People Ages 15 to 20

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PARIS, FEB. 4, 2002 ( A French bishops´ panel has published pastoral reflections on the prevention of suicide among adolescents, appealing to Christians to give the “answers of faith to the suffering” caused by this phenomenon.

The document by the episcopal conference´s Social Commission states that “with some 1,000 cases every year, suicide is the second cause of death in our country among youths between 15 and 20 years” of age.

The bishops emphasize that the reasons for the phenomenon must be thoroughly examined, while acknowledging that “a certain anxiety is inseparable from the human condition,” especially in adolescence.

“Believers have the responsibility to help youth to find a proper spiritual attitude in life and to support them, without giving them false consolations when anxiety is present, so that little by little they will learn to understand its meaning,” the episcopal statement explains.

The four-page document urges those in charge of pastoral care to reflect on the words and rites for the funeral of a person who committed suicide.

In particular, they appeal for special attention to “relatives, dear ones and friends.” They also suggest contacts with the psychological support team of school institutions, “so that the religious expression of the tragedy will be the most appropriate one possible.”

The bishops explain that it is necessary to be careful so that “death, which all too often fascinates youth,” does not become an obsession at funerals. The bishops remind their audience that “the Church continues to reprove suicide, while proclaiming God´s infinite mercy toward people.”

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