Psychiatry & Catholicism: Part 4, The Sanctity of Life


2280 Everyone is responsible for his/her life before God Who has given it to them. It is God Who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for His honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of. (2258)

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. (2212)

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. (1735)

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to Him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives. (1037)

-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000, (2nd Ed., p. 550). Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

We commend them, all the departed, and ourselves to the infinite mercy of God.

“A sense of God as the creator and author of life is necessary for understanding and appreciating these doctrines and moral teachings. The Catechism begins this section with an affirmation of our responsibility before God for our own life, which is a gift from God. This responsibility is grounded in our human freedom, another gift we have been given as rational, spiritual creatures. Our happiness and salvation hinge on the good use of our freedom. In order to be saved and to become holy, we must respond to and cooperate with sanctifying grace. We freely act as stewards, not as full owners or dispensers, of the life God has entrusted to us. To attempt to dispose with this life on our own terms is to act wrongly and irresponsibly, as though God did not create or redeem us.

By faith in God’s revelation, we know that we are persons created in His image and likeness. Even apart from the supernatural gift of faith, our human reason can perceive that God is the source of life and that we have a natural inclination to preserve and perpetuate our own life. This universal human inclination is inscribed in our biological constitution: the fundamental will to survival underlies many features of human psychology and be-havior. One feature that indicates how serious and unhealthy severe depression can be is the fact that it so often inclines a person toward suicide — an objectively disordered, unnatural, and irrational act. Aside from other considerations, this feature of depression should be sufficient for the depressed person to seek immediate medical, psychological, and spiritual assistance.

The Catechism explains that suicide is contrary to love in three ways. First, it is contrary to love of God, for the reasons just described. Second, according to the natural moral law, it is contrary to a proper love of self, also for reasons just described. Appropriate love of self includes the desire and intent to preserve one’s own life, even in the midst of suffering or hardship. Third, suicide is contrary to love of neighbor. Even if we are suffering, we continue to have obligations toward our family, nation, and society. Anyone who has tried to comfort loved ones in the wake of a suicide can see clearly the unimaginable suffering that suicide causes for those left behind. Grieving after a suicide, as discussed in the last section of this chapter, is tremendously painful and almost unbearable.”

-Kheriaty, Aaron; Cihak, Fr. John (2012-10-23). Catholic Guide to Depression (pp. 100-101). Sophia Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

Love, prayers, life,

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