Saints who Confronted Suicidal Thoughts

by Meg Hunter-Kilmer, Aletia  |  09/12/2020  |  ACMHM News

Mental illness does not mean a lack of holiness, as these saints’ lives richly attest.

There has long been a stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly among those Christians who insist that depression is a sign of faithlessness, rather than the result of mental illness, physiological conditions, or past trauma. Some have viewed suicide in particular as irremediably sinful, a final act of despair. Such beliefs are both untrue and dangerous, causing those who are suffering to refuse necessary treatment (such as counseling or medication) and even to conceal their struggles, ashamed at their purported weakness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, while reiterating that our lives are not our own to dispose of, and suicide is “gravely contrary to the just love of self,” also states, “Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide” (paragraph 2282) and goes on to explain that the Church prays for those who have taken their lives, knowing that God’s mercy is boundless.