An ask from someone who wishes to remain anonymous:
I was having strong suicidal thoughts a few months ago and told my counselor, who is a Catholic woman. She said (among other, helpful things), "suicide is a mortal sin. Catholics have the lowest rate of suicide because of this" I said, no it's not, to be a mortal sin you have to be in full control of your decisions, and if you have a mental illness you aren't. She said "you're not that kind of mentally ill. You're in control of your decisions, so it'd be a moral sin" I dropped it cause I wasn't there to argue theology and because many years ago the thing that stopped me was thinking "oh you really think hell is better than this?"and so if I didn't think it was mortal, would I have gone through with it? Is she right?
If you are willing, I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'll be praying for your continued health as well
Well she is both right and not right in different ways.
Firstly, the fact that you were having suicidal thoughts that were strong and still brought yourself to therapy shows you still had some hope for getting better, and the fact you were still able to argue with yourself about the pros and cons shows that you were not at the point that you were “out of your mind” with mental illness to the point that you didn’t know what you were doing. And you didn’t kill yourself, further showing that your depressive episode was (thank God above) something you were able to keep from escalating into a crisis that would have ended your life. I think (I hope) that’s what she was trying to say - in the moment you were speaking with her, you were not to that point.
But her saying “If you killed yourself right now it would be a mortal sin” is kind of moot though - you wouldn’t kill yourself unless you reached that crisis point, that’s how mental illness works. People wouldn’t choose it just for funsies. And the crisis point, the one where rationality leaves the building, is what mitigates culpability. So I don’t know what her point was.
I will say, depression or other mental illness, always impacts the full consent of our will to some degree - we will never know to what point and we will never personally know how God in His infinite wisdom and mercy will judge us. So she had no right to make that judgment on you, it’s God’s call. Personally, I think that she was afraid if she agreed with you in any way, you would take it as almost her giving you permission - like “it’s okay to kill yourself because God will forgive you.”
Being in control of your decisions has nothing to do with the fact you have an illness that impacts the decision-making process to the point that you aren’t able to see all of your options in a realistic way. As a kid, the only two choices I believed I had were to continue to live but continue in agony and in the sight of a God who was disappointed and disgusted in me, or kill myself and maybe burn in hell with a God still disappointed and disgusted in me, but maybe I would be at peace, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I need the “now” to stop because the present pain was too much. I had the freedom to choose right? But in the midst of that episode I wasn’t able to have a clear enough picture of reality and my life in order to make an informed choice.
I have no idea what statistics she is referring to in regards to “the lowest suicide rate,” idk if I buy that. So many Catholics aren’t devout. I do know that way of thinking helped me not go through with it though, so who knows.
I will be praying for you! You are courageous beyond what you can see now. I look forward to seeing you reach the other side of this.