Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz. DENNIS EUDELA - CBCPNEWS

Philippines: Archbishop Calls on Church to Confront Suicide

‘As church, we are called to cultivate the culture of presence’

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Suicide is a “horrible act” that both the church and community must confront, a church official said.
Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz stressed the need for the “culture of presence” as he expressed alarm over the rising suicide rates, particularly among young people in the archdiocese.
“As church, we are called to cultivate the culture of presence,” Advincula said in a pastoral letter issued on July 3.
He said that church leaders will never have all the answers as to why suicide happens, but they can still provide comfort to their flock.
“Being present with anyone, letting them feel that we are with them especially when they are burdened would matter so much,” he said.
The archbishop primarily emphasized the role of families in preventing suicide from happening.
“This can be done if parents journey with, if they give quality time to, and if they listen to their children and other members of the family,” Advincula said.
“When children see and feel the love exists in their family and homes, they realize more the value and beauty of life,” he said.
He also said that the government and schools should strive to be an extension of the family “where everyone feels that they belong, are accepted and are loved”.
He called on school administrators to address bullying and for the government to strengthen suicide prevention programs and interventions.
“When we know of someone who is experiencing depression, we should reach out to him,” Advincula added.
“Even if we are not mental health expert, often what depressed persons need are people who are ready to listen without judgment,” he also said.
In 2014, the bishops’ Commission on Culture organized a conference on suicide where the need to counter the problem by a culture of presence was emphasized.

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