Re: Suicide (was PCA statement on end of life decisions)

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Tue Apr 05 2005 - 13:18:55 EDT

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments.

One thing that seems to strike me is that in the USA it seems to be far
easier to get a psychiatric professional involved than in the UK. There is a
complex procedure called "sectioning" whereby the subject is detained in a
psychiatric hospital against their will under Section 4 of the Mental Health
act. It requires (I think) the agreement of two independent doctors. It's
sometimes possible to get admitted voluntarily to a psychiatric hospital,
but it seems you have to be virtually on the brink of suicide to do it.

Don, I think you've hit the nail on the head talking about depression. Never
having suffered from it myself, I can never really imagine just how bad it
can be, and how, when in the depths of it, all you can think about is means
of killing yourself to end the mental torture.

I think when I posed my third question, perhaps it wasn't quite specific
enough. As a Samaritan volunteer, I would never try and talk a caller out of
suicide - the idea is that we are approachable and won't try to guilt trip
people out of it. The hope is that by providing a 24/7 service of people who
care with no pressure, people can find the strength to go on. However, as a
personal friend of someone, knowing all the details, the likely effect on
family or loved ones etc, it is very different. You can, for example try to
encourage the person and negate some of the negative thoughts, which you
can't with a stranger because you don't know anything about it. Having said
that, as Don says, a depressed person will always see the down side. I
suppose the question I was more interested in, since it was prompted by the
PCA statement was:

Is suicide murder?

and as a rider

Is the answer to the above in any way different if the person is
depressed/suffering from a mental illness?

As I understand it, the Catholic Church has changed its position - it is not
a mortal sin if the person is mentally ill. That in itself begs the question
how do you decide if someone is mentally ill enough not to be deemed


On Apr 5, 2005 10:13 AM, Don Winterstein <> wrote:
> Concerning your third question: A large fraction of suicides is by the
> mentally ill (depressed or schizophrenic). The appropriate action is to
> protect them from themselves. In California anyone caught attempting suicide
> is required to be hospitalized for at least 72 hours; and similar
> confinement may be appropriate even for those who threaten.
> Generally, anyone who threatens suicide should be evaluated for
> depression. Sometimes medication seems to take care of the problem.
> There may be exceptions, but I suspect most of the time it does no good
> to try to talk someone out of suicide, and in fact practically anything you
> say may simply make the person more determined. He will look for and find
> compelling reasons to think your words of encouragement don't apply to him,
> and then he will sink deeper. The mentally ill especially will often not
> interpret what you say in the way you intend. (I've had to deal with people
> like this.)
> Get a mental health professional involved asap.
> Don
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Iain Strachan <>
> *To:*
> *Sent:* Monday, April 04, 2005 12:00 PM
> *Subject:* Suicide (was PCA statement on end of life decisions)
> Just thought there should be some questions perhaps to focus the
> discussion rather than a general trawl for views ..
> (1) Is suicide the same as murder? (as indicated in the PCA statement in
> the link posted by jack)
> (2) Is suicide a "mortal sin" (instant ticket to Hell, as my Buddhist
> friend suggested).
> (3) If you were confronted with someone who was very suicidal, would you
> try to talk them out of it, or accept that was the way they feel? Or both?
> What if such a person was also a Christian? ( yes, this situation is
> currently true in my life).
> Iain.
> -----------

There are 3 types of people in the world.
Those who can count and those who can't.
Received on Tue Apr 5 13:20:21 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Apr 05 2005 - 13:20:23 EDT