When God leaves, Suicide, Depression and Death Come in

The girl hugged her father happily and showed him the drawing of the Holy Family that she had just painted. He took the mimeographed paper and asked, in a temper, pulling the girl out of his arms: Where did you get this?  

Newsdesk (12/12/2021 4:42 PM, Gaudium Press) According to the World Health Organization, suicide represents one of every hundred deaths in the world, and is the fourth leading cause of death for young people between 15 and 29 years old.

What does science say about it?

According to the medical field, most suicides are related to depression, which is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as “the presence of sad, empty, or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual’s ability to function.

Characterized by deep and persistent sadness, depression can affect thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and well-being, causing people afflicted by it to feel anxious, hopeless, empty, worried, powerless, worthless, guilty, angry, hurt, or restless.

Not all people who suffer from depression commit suicide, but virtually all people who commit suicide suffer from depression.

Origin of Depression

Although it is considered to be the evil of the century, contrary to what many people imagine, it is not a new disease. Initially called melancholy and, in the most extreme cases, madness, depression is an affective disorder that has accompanied mankind throughout its history.

In the early 19th century, French physician Philippe Pinel classified melancholia as a disease and highlighted the predisposition of patients affected by it to commit suicide.

The term depression began to appear in medical dictionaries around 1860 and, since then, it has been divided into several categories, and treatments have varied greatly, without, however, finding a cure or containing its spread.

The disease of the soul

The more it is studied, the more aspects are discovered about the disease, which may involve physiological factors such as chemical imbalance in the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medication use, alcohol and drug addiction, seasonal variation, and other health problems.

There are no tests to detect depression and the diagnosis is restricted to clinical evaluation and its limitations. The doctors themselves admit that even if the symptoms are well described, they face difficulties in treating something that is not well understood.

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Although the body suffers the consequences of depression, it is a disease of the soul, located in a place that the scalpel and laboratory tests will never reach.

Common factor

The subject is complex and medical professionals, although they know the symptoms that allow the diagnosis of depression and the drugs used to try to minimize its effects, have no answers to the question: Why do people kill themselves?

Considering the issue of suicide, besides the symptoms that usually precede consummation, and that vary little from one individual to another, is there a common factor between these occurrences?

Yes, there is a common factor. And, to talk about it, I will narrate a short episode from real life. I will call its protagonist Maria.

Innocence Violated

The little girl was fascinated by her father, whom she held as her hero. She must have been no more than seven years old that afternoon when she hugged him after he came home from work and happily showed him the drawing of the Holy Family that she had just painted. The father took the mimeographed paper and, pulling the girl out of his arms, asked, in a temper: “Where did you get this?”

The girl explained that she had gotten it from a friend who was in Catechism classes, and before her father had time to say anything, she had already asked him to enroll her in the Catechism classes for her First Communion.

The father’s attitude, and the hatred present in the look he directed at her, marked her like a tattoo of fire. Tearing the paper, he first shouted at his wife, accusing her of letting her daughter get involved in Church things, knowing that he would not admit that in his house.

Then, seeing the little girl trembling with fright, he pulled her close to him, sat her on his lap, and explained at length that God was an illusion, a lie created by men, and, without considering the child’s limited vocabulary, quoted to her one of the best-known slogans used by his idol, Karl Marx: “Religion is the opium of the people!”

When I met Maria, in the company where we worked, she was already close to 40 years old, and the damage her father’s attitude had caused had left a trail of misery in her life. I can say that I have rarely known greater suffering.

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Our identification was immediate, because we had a common history, depression, from which I had managed to emerge and she was still immersed. She used to take sick leave after sick leave, so we hardly ever saw each other at work, but we developed a great friendship, outside the professional environment.

A soul in conflict

The first gift she gave me was an image of Our Lady of Aparecida. She explained that she wanted to give it to me because she knew I believed, but she did not. She had obtained the image from a friend who had brought it from Aparecida. She justified that she didn’t have the courage to throw the image away out of consideration for her friend. It was on this day that I noticed the conflict of that poor soul…

To summarize, in moments of stronger crisis, I tried to help her with what I have: faith and the Catholic religion. I managed to get her to accept the visit of a priest, but, dominated by the evil spirit that imprisoned her soul, she tried to get into a philosophical discussion with him and convince him that Marx was right and Jesus wrong.  In fact Jesus did not even exist; he was an invention of the Church!

She destroyed the image of Our Lady

Other crises followed, several suicide attempts, conversations with other priests. She herself told me about the indoctrination done by her father. He was already dead when I met her, but even if he were alive, I believe that not even he would be able to undo the harm he caused his own daughter, persuading her to become an atheist like him, in a chant that was repeated throughout her childhood and adolescence.

The mother, an embittered lady, still kept the remnants of her faith, symbolized by an image of Our Lady of Fatima, brought from Portugal, more than a metre high. Her husband accepted the image, provided she kept it hidden in a small corner. After his death, she dared to give a prominent place to the saint, placing it on a piece of furniture at the entrance of the house, flanked by two flower vases.

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The image of Our Lady was the last bastion of resistance inside that house marked by anguish and suffering. In a fit of rage, Maria threw it on the floor, breaking it into several pieces. Later, she called me, crying, in despair, saying that Our Lady was not to blame. “Well, she doesn’t even exist!”, was my answer, because I always poked her with a short stick to try to bring her back to reality.

The only thing she said to me was, “Please don’t talk like that!”

The summary of that episode was that she spent a fortune with one of the most renowned restorers in the country to remake the image.

In this period, another priest entered the plot, but, she also repelled him. She by now admitted that God could exist, but said that he was sadistic and cruel, for allowing so many social injustices. Her interior battle was immense.

What could pull you out of that abyss?

Last Saturday I received the sad news: Maria committed suicide. Amid tears and sobs, the only image that came to my mind was that of the little girl running to meet her father, with the beautiful picture of the Holy Family that she had just coloured…

To close this account, I want to say that the common factor among all people who commit suicide, whether they are atheists or practice a religion, is the lack of God. Because when God leaves, death enters.

If you have been contaminated by the ideology of atheism, know that you have been lied to. And if you have children, even if you have fallen into the disgrace of not believing, don’t commit the moral violence of taking it away from them.

Depression has always existed, and in all ages people have committed suicide, but since it has become fashionable not to give children religious training and to leave them to decide about it when they are adults, many parents are crying in front of a grave.

What else can prevent or pull them out of this abyss if not God?

Afonso Pessoa

Compiled by Roberta MacEwan

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