Saturday, October 01, 2011

Suicide, Faith, and the Young Filipinos

It is not only disturbing, but sad, to hear that suicide rate in our society is becoming more frequent among our young adults and teens. Some TV shows, local as well as national, have of late been giving some significant time slots on the matter, giving account on the increasing number of its frequency, and then, asking questions that could unsettle our social conscience. Is it true that three out of five young Filipinos have already in one way or the other been contemplating of ending their lives in the face of their problems?
Life is a precious possession , a gift that has to be appreciated, cared for, and defended. For a Christian, human life is sacred. He knows full well that life is not his, but God’s. From its inception it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end ( cf. CCC 22258). God is the Lord of life, its sole owner. Hence, no one has the rightful claim under any circumstance to snuff off his own life.
It is interesting to note that many of those who have thought of committing suicide are young individuals who have no more grounding in God, or, who have left behind the practice of prayer. Forgetfulness of one’s connection to the Transcendent One may not be the only cause of suicide. But for sure one who does not take his faith in God or friendship with Jesus seriously is bound to recoil unto himself in times of crisis. Without God man feels himself to be the centre of the universe. But such a mentality is precarious even for the mature and the experienced among us. For, existential problems that come into man’s life are simply too staggering for any self-centred individual to face without succumbing to helplessness and despair. There is no Other to hang on to; no Transcendent Being to assure him of that promise: “Do not be afraid.”
Many of our young people today are caught up with the modern culture that has gradually deleted man’s awareness and direct connection to God, replacing Him as the ground of his being and acting. Soon his decisions and moral values are being sourced from his capricious whims and personal desire and no longer from the Will of the Creator. No, it is not true that he is no longer a Church-goer. He appears still to be a good member of the Catholic Church, an obedient son to his parents, respectful to others, faithful to Sunday Masses. But deep inside his soul is emptiness. The Commandments of God and the friendship with Jesus do not have anymore influence in the way he makes the decisions. What is profitable, what promotes his ambition, what is convenient has become the basis for his actions and behaviour. His world is the here and now, a life that is mapped out by the playboy philosophy of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” A pleasurable life on doubt, but a flat one, boring due to its shallowness.
To get back our young to their senses we need to bring the Good News to them, proclaim to them again that Jesus is the answer to their life. It may sound naive, simplistic. But there is wisdom to this activity in as much as it is based on the nature of man and God’s loving plan for His people. Man simply cannot be satisfied with the things of the earth; his longing is eternal. Devoid of the eternal, man succumbs to restlessness, to a feeling of meaninglessness, to boredom. There exists within man an unquenchable fire that burns him ever to restlessness, making him incapable of ever settling him down to full peace; a desire that cannot be satisfied. In a language that is consonance to him as a poet, Plato described this state of man’s restlessness thus: “We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the divine.” Augustine is simpler in his declaration: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
The restless soul of our young can only find rest in Jesus. For this, he needs to listen again the proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News.